Compares the development and characteristics of three groups of highly successful British senior executives – self‐made entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, and a group of intrapreneurs who are members of the family owning the company for which they work, but not the company′s founder. One important common factor within the first two groups (which distinguishes them from the third group) is the overcoming of adversity in childhood. This seems to set a pattern of behaviour throughout life which contributes to their success by giving them the ability to cope with and learn from different situations and setbacks during their careers. Other factors which discriminate between the groups are the degree of risk taking, innovation and political style. All three groups have much in common. They are all good communicators who work extremely hard and are intrinsically motivated.
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