How to Find the Right Path: Learn from Experience

Most recently I read that 60% of the students don’t know what they want to become after they graduate. Holy moly, that’s quite a lot of students if you ask me! And I think it’s not only students who don’t know what they want to do, but also most of the young professionals who are just being ambitious and started some career without any clear thought. I have worked for three years as a consultant, and I’ve been there, trust me. But luckily I think I’ve figured it all out.

Management vs. Leadership

Bluntly spoken, you can distinguish between two types of people. There are managers, and there are leaders. Managers like to structure things, to organize chaos and to execute according to plan. Their primary thinking pattern is bottom up; what do I need to do to achieve a certain goal? The biggest pitfall of a typical manager is losing himself in everyday hassle, thereby missing the bigger picture. A manager loves control, procedures and detailed planning.  

On the contrary, leaders like to think big. They don’t bother about the details and they like to take risks. Their primary thinking pattern is top down; where do I want to go and what strategy do I need for that? The biggest pitfall of a typical leader is thinking too abstract, bad communication and as a result going nowhere. A leader loves new ideas, continuous change and taking chances.   

The consultancy firm I used to work for was mainly successful in the field of project management for financial corporates. As a young and fresh junior consultant it was my responsibility to keep track of planning, following the right procedures and delivering detailed progress reports right on time.  I hated it! As soon as I saw a small chance of doing something new or creative I took it. Everything was better and gave me more energy than following all those corporate rules and chitchat. Unfortunately, my main responsibility remained the execution of management-like tasks, while I knew by then that I was in no means a manager, but a leader instead.   


I feel that nowadays almost every Business student wants to become the same thing: management consultant, management trainee or something like investment banker. The same is shown by Forbes, which publishes a yearly list of the most popular employers. They offer typical professions for a manager, but not for a leader. Which of the two are you?

About the Author

Hi, my name is Laurens. I’ve worked as a management consultant for three years before I co-founded my startup Brixer. With Brixer we help students and young professionals to find their dream job. Want to know more? Check it out at www.brixer.nl.