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Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Sørensen on what propelled him to the top

November 20, 2015
Borderless Leadership

Ask chief executives why their companies are performing so well, and they’ll typically credit a brilliant strategy coupled with hard-nosed, diligent execution.

But when you ask Lars Sørensen of Novo Nordisk what forces propelled him to the top of HBR’s 2015 ranking of the best-performing CEOs in the world, he cites something very different: luck. Based in Copenhagen, Novo Nordisk was founded in the 1920s to make insulin, then a newly discovered drug. In the years since, demand for diabetes treatments has exploded; today close to 400 million people suffer from the disease. The company now controls nearly half of the market for insulin products—which are second only to oncology drugs as the fastest-growing category of pharmaceuticals. The firm also has branched into growth hormones, hormone replacement therapies, and drugs to treat hemophilia.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Harvard Business Review editor in chief Adi Ignatius and senior editor Daniel McGinn, Sørensen describes his distinctly modest approach to leadership—one that would be atypical in America but not necessarily in Scandinavia.

> Read the full interview on the HBR website

By Adi Ignatius and Daniel McGinn

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