Great business leaders seem to be few and far in between.
Industry sectors are fraught with average bosses swinging for the fences. This state of affairs emphasizes the need for true leaders, who can illuminate the path for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
And yes, even lessons from the bygone eras can be invaluable it the world of today. They evoke bold visions, unwavering commitment, and momentous innovation. We’re also going to mention some contemporary heroes and role models.
So, we present you with the members of the business pantheon, people who cleared the paths to greatness with their own two hands.
1. Tim Cook
Steve Jobs is undeniably one of the most renowned business leaders of modern times.
But, his story has been retold so many times, which is why we decided to go with Tim Cook. He had big shoes to fill, overseeing the transition period in Apple. Despite the glaring absence of the iconic founder, he propelled the company toward new landmarks.
Namely, Cook stood his ground against the FBI, rolled in new products, and opened retail stores in China. Under his leadership as an SEO, Apple operates as the most valuable company of today.
He also finds time to act as an advocate for political reformation in areas like cybersecurity.
2. Andrew Carnegie
A self-made steel baron, Andrew Carnegie remains the epitome of the American Dream.
After working on various railroad jobs, he went on to build a Carnegie Steel Corporation. The company was the largest of its kind and made its founder one of the richest people on the planet.
Today, we see him as a man who ushered in the industrial revolution in its full force.
But, Andrew is an inspiration to many due to his philanthropic work as well. He sold his business in 1901 and dedicated the rest of his life to projects such as Carnegie-Mellon University.
If you want to find out how modern institutes can help in shaping business leaders, here is where you can learn more.
3. Bob Iger
CEO of the Disney Corporation has a stellar track record.
He spearheaded the expansion of the famous company, turning it into a supreme entertainment goliath. Acquisitions of other major companies were the main staging points for this campaign.
We’re talking about purchases of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucas Films.
At the same time, Iger helped Disney expand into new markets. Perhaps one of the most decisive victories was the opening of two Disney theme parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
4. Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel probably needs no introduction.
Her name lives forever in the grandeur of the fashion world. It all started with a small Parisian shop selling only women’s heats. The business was going well and in 1921, she unveiled the fabled Chanel No. 5.
It was the first perfume ever to be sold on a global level. Apart from that, Coco had a lot of success with handbags, fragrance, and jewelry products.
At the time of heat death (1971), the fashion empire was raking in around $160 million annually. Even today, the brand retains much of its allure, attracting affluent and celebrity-like customers.
5. Jack Ma
Founder of Alibaba Group, a conglomerate of technology companies, Ma’s story is one of overcoming unlikely odds.
He was rejected by university three times. When he finally graduated, he had a hard time landing a first job. Reportedly, 30 different companies turned him down.
Ma persevered and eventually opened a small website company. From that point on, Alibaba’s rise to stardom was on a steady trajectory. It broke the record for the largest IPO in history and grew at a staggering pace.
Ma was also the first mainland China businessman to grace the cover of the Forbs Magazine. The Asian giant probably has no better business ambassador than him.
6. Estée Lauder
Estée Lauder is hailed as a paragon of women entrepreneurship in the US.
While still a child, she took a keen interest in uncle’s chemical products and a salesperson in her awakened. She started selling the products pretty much any chance she got.
Customers included everyone from her close friends to beach club visitors.
Together with her husband, she launched a cosmetics company and the rest is history. Estée appeared on the Time’s 1998 list as the only woman figure. People still recite one of her most famous quotes about how she never worked a day in her life without selling.
7. Elon Musk
Like him or not, Elon Musk is one of the most brilliant business minds of today.
He founded two groundbreaking enterprises— PayPal and Space X. His involvement in Tesla Motors is another crown jewel on his resume. He is equal parts engineer, inventor, investor, and entrepreneur.
But, what is the secret behind is success?
Well, he possesses an uncanny ability to rally people around the intrepid vision. He is hell-bent of pushing the boundaries of what is considered possible or financially feasible. He just strikes us a kind of guy that doesn’t take no for an answer.
8. Tony Hsieh
Last but not least we have the CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh.
Before Zappos, he founded or co-founded highly successful businesses. LinkExchange was one of them, a company he sold to Microsoft for $265 million. That’s not why we included him to the list though.
Tony reminds us that business leaders don’t always seek accolades and spotlights. He doesn’t even like being called the leader. Instead, he sees himself as a facilitator seeking to bring the best out in people around him.
If you ask us, this is precisely the capability that all genuine business leaders should possess.
Get Possessed by the Spirit of Great Business Leaders
Business empires rise and crumble with the passage of time.
Yet, great business leaders are engraved in collective memory everlastingly. They are able to make difficult decisions most people shy away from. They seize the moment when others beg them to fall back.
So, it would certainly be wise to model your own organization and business style off of them. Just remember there is no single formula behind effective leadership. Take into account your personality traits and know where your strength and weaknesses lie.
A blend of self-awareness and lessons from business masters tend to be a winning combo.
Browse our business section to arm yourself with more tips and insights. More power to you!