There are all kinds of leaders out there. Some are women, some are men, some are refined, some are not — but what they all have in common is their ability to influence people.
- Jim Sinegal, former CEO of Costco. During his leadership, stock doubled and revenue grew at an impressive rate. You’d imagine a man like this wearing expensive suits and sitting in a marble office with a private jet waiting for him. But that wasn’t the case at all. He wore a name tag like everyone else, answered his own phone and sat in an office with no walls. He also made a very modest $350,000 (modest compared to other CEOs). Wouldn’t you want to work hard for this man?
- Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit. As CEO, Smith views his job as being able to “remove barriers to innovation and get out of the way.” The company’s 8,000 employees are encouraged to take risks and grow by learning from success and failure. As reward for their innovation, they get to see how their ideas impact the lives of InTuit’s 50 million customers. Not too shabby.
- Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry. When Ahrendts knew it was time for Burberry to start reaching out to the millennials, she admitted she didn’t know how to do that. So, she called on the younger generation to lead the way. And the younger generation took Burberry to a new place — a cooler, more profitable place — using social media in a way no other company in fashion had. I admire Ahrendts for admitting her own personal vulnerabilities and trusting her team to get the job done right.
- Anne Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox . I think of Mulcahy as the all-hands-on-deck leader. When she took over the helm at Xerox in 2000, the company was facing possible bankruptcy. But she didn’t want to go that route. Instead, her goal was to “restore Xerox to a great company once again.” She met personally with the company’s top executives, letting them know of the company’s dire financial situation and asking them for a commitment to help rebuild the company. She transformed the company by looking at the people — the employees and the customers — first, and then the finances.
- Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. I have to include the world’s wealthiest business man in this list because he certainly didn’t become that way through luck. Buffett is known for his hard work, modesty and most of all, his hands-off management style, an approach that is known to encourage people to do their best — yet so many leaders resist doing this. Why is that?
Which business leaders do you admire and why?