Everyone knows something about business. You only have to look at the rising number of ordinary people trying their hand at becoming eBay sellers to understand that most of us get excited at deal making. But dipping your toe in the corporate water, and actually being good at doing business are two very different things. In addition to what we may be able to learn from a leadership coaching program, what can we learn from influential business leaders to help us along the way
1. Steve Jobs (1955-2011)
It’s hard to remember a world without Apple products in it. The sheer scale of dominance of the various i-devices is difficult to get your head around. The pioneer of the product range was of course Steve Jobs, credited with having the vision and creativity required to build up a brand with almost unimaginable reach. Steve Jobs is known to have been difficult at times, but he realized that his role was not to be everybody’s friend. He accepted that one of the key challenges of being a true leader is that sometimes you have to be unpopular.
Jobs once said,”My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.”
2. Sir Richard Branson (1950- )
The charismatic chairman and founder of the Virgin Group is well known for his sense of adventure. Attempting to set world records whether in a boat or balloon is second nature to this global magnate, worth an estimated $4.6billion. His audacity and fearless nature in taking on new challenges is well recognized, and in the UK he is well known for his outspoken nature. Asked once what his best piece of advice would be, he answered, “Have no regrets.”
Sir Richard’s ability to look forward, even when there are setbacks, has ensured the continued growth of his business internationally.
3. Bill Gates (1955- )
Co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, dropped out of Harvard, and started his business in his garage using it as a workshop in the early days. Fast forward several years and Gates had revolutionized the computer industry, and amassed a fortune to match. Despite this, Gates has consistently resisted the urge to live an opulent lifestyle and instead established a charitable foundation to improve healthcare and tackle serious poverty. His donations to this foundation have amounted to over $28 billion and he’s still not done!
Bill Gates shows us the importance of giving back, and really puts his money where his mouth is.
4. Jeff Bezos (1964- )
Founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos has led the way in the world of e-commerce. Having given up a safe job on Wall Street, Bezos took a leap into the unknown, setting up Amazon from his garage. We know now it was the right thing to do, but it was a risky strategy and one which didn’t bear fruit overnight. Even after he took the business publiche resisted outside pressure to turn profits fast and kept reinvesting and building his enterprise.
The lessons from Bezos are that we should be prepared to take risks, and focus on long term results.
5. Howard Schultz (1953- )
CEO of Starbucks, Schultz has turned coffee from a drink into an experience. He openly talks about his childhood in the Brooklyn projects, and it’s clear he is a real self-made man. He was one of the first entrepreneurs to provide benefits to his part time employees. He treats them well and they are loyal. But the difference between Schultz and other well-known leaders is something very simple indeed – he’s nice!
Described as a man you’d like a beer with, the message is not to forget who you are or how you got started.
Each of these leaders can offer us something in terms of leadership tips -put together their pieces of advice to construct a jigsaw of leadership success.