Behind every great leader is a great team, but there is no great team without a great leader. From setting goals, having a vision, policing enthusiasm and recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of those they guide, we raise our glasses to these innovative leaders who have managed to captain their giant ships through currents thick and thin and for being heroic individuals!
The Questioning Leader – Howard Schultz
It was Howard Schultz who had to convince Starbucks to hire him after he fell in love with coffee, but Starbucks wasn’t convinced by Howard’s idea of turning coffee into a societal symbol.
Determined to challenge the traditional approach of cafe retailers in America, he started his own coffee bar called Il Giornale, and later bought over Starbucks for $3.4 million. That was 20 years ago; today Starbucks is a worldwide caffeine fixation worth $19.2 billion.
It’s Howard’s ability to take the “Why Not?” attitude and question popular mindsets that drove him to becoming the coffee icon he is today. We admire his courage of not letting conventional thinking or even his own doubts get in the way of his creativity and his dream.
The Compassionate Leader – Anita Roddick
With every ingredient she used in The Body Shop products, the late Dame Anita Roddick told the story of its origin, of the people behind it and of its importance in consumerism.
Under her leadership, The Body Shop was famous for supporting social and environmental causes, community fair trade and for producing their products ethically. She pretty much bottled up human emotions and turned consumers into compassionate users themselves!
Anita was also an experimenter, constantly sourcing natural ingredients and thinking up zero waste strategies, which gained The Body Shop a loyal customer base. We admire her ability to be driven by her compassion and spreading awareness through her creative and innovative strategies, whilst becoming one of the world’s most iconic entrepreneurs along the way!
The Persistent Leader – Steve Jobs
Persistent leaders never give up despite the hardest of falls, and this was one apparent quality in Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former CEO of Apple. Being forced to leave the company in 1995 didn’t stop him from venturing on to other successes such as NeXT Computer and Pixar.
When he rejoined Apple in 1996, he went on to hone the company towards being the most successful brand in the world to date, creating a global cult of Apple users who have made its products crucial tools in their lifestyles and changing the meaning of “an apple a day”!
Steve may have also been known for his perfectionist demands, but it was his determination to position his products at the forefront of information technology that made Apple the icon it is today. We admire him for his perseverance, his relentless need to be innovative and for sticking with it till the win.
The Appreciative Leader – Eric Schmidt
Eric Schmidt was the CEO of Google from 2001 – 2011 and during his run, had helped the company to build the corporate infrastructure needed to support Google’s rapid growth during that decade, earning him a spot on the 50 most important people on the web by PC World.
Eric valued human resource and often credited his employees for his success. “Google is run by its culture and not by me,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post. Even with his previous company, Sun Microsystems, it’s been said that he was most proud of the people he hired.
We admire him for his appreciation of his employees and for helping to create one of the best working environments on the planet, as proven through the diverse culture and values at Google offices worldwide!
Who are your favorite innovative leaders, and what traits do they possess? We only had room for four, but we’re sure there are hundreds out there who have inspired people with their positive leadership!