Whether they are cultural, industry or political leaders, these powerful and charismatic figures make success look easy. Their overpowering public images often eclipse the teams of dedicated experts working tirelessly behind the scenes to get the job done, and craft that image of effortless success while they’re at it. Let’s take a look at three colossal examples of leadership and their symbiotic counterpart forces.
Bill Gates is without a doubt one of the most important figures that helped shape the economic and social landscape of the recent decades. His team had changed a lot since 1975, when he co-founded Microsoft, together with Paul Allen, but there is a lot to be learned from the way in which these groups have developed over the decades.
Paul Allen, a college dropout himself, convinced his friend to leave Harvard and found Microsoft. At the time, Allen was the mastermind behind the acquisition of QDOS, and operating system which was still under development at the time. This pivotal transaction eventually led to the development of the Microsoft company as we know it today.
Bill Gates’ first core team consisted of just 16 members. Two of them, Ric Weiland and Marc McDonald had been former high school mates of his, and Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s first business manager, was a former college friend.
The fact that Gates chose only people he knew very well, and were very close to him to build up his empire is very telling. For Gates, the interpersonal relationship was a key component for his business’ success. His vision might have guided the direction the company was going in, but he knew he could trust his team to delegate tasks. In that sense, the make of his team shows that he was comfortable with running both the tech and human part of his company.
Probably a lot of businesses have learned from his example since all the big ones, the majority, keep their employees close, offering them login guides and portals, platforms to connect, share, build trust and grow together.
Everyone expects that there is a massive powerhouse behind the most influential person on the planet, the President of the United States. Every political aspect is delegated to a team of exceptional professionals, each with their branch of expertise.
But there is a team behind Barack Obama that the public rarely gets to hear about. These are the people that make sure the President remains that awe-inspiring figure he has to be.
Among these people is Reginald Love. His job is perhaps one of the most difficult ones on the planet. He is Obama’s personal assistant. When asked if he owns an iPad, Obama commented, “I have an iReggie, who has my books, my newspapers, my music all in one place.”
And then there’s Brian Mosteller, the man who can read the President’s mind. His official job title is director of Oval Office operations. He’s in charge of everything, from finding out what drink a particular head of state prefers, so the President can offer it to them, to making sure the President’s attire is spotless. He is the one who ensures that the President’s public persona is an absolute reflection of the symbol he stands for.
Her name might not be instantly recognizable, but her influence in the world of fashion is tremendous without a doubt. She has been the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine since 1988, and in 2013 she became the artistic director of the media juggernaut Condé Nast, which owns, among other brands, The New Yorker, Pitchfork Media, reddit.com, Vogue and Vanity Fair.
Being her personal assistant is no easy task. The 2006 film, The Devil Wears Prada, based on the accounts of one of her former personal assistants is a clear testimony to that.
Her current personal assistants are all young, bright, and have an astounding combination of college degrees. Their combined education reads like the description of the ideal media guru.
Lili Göksenin was hired back in 2013, which makes her the most experienced of the group. She has a degree in cultural and social analysis from the University of New York. Lily Stav Gildor was educated at Brown University and graduated with a degree in art history and visual arts. Rey-Hanna Vakili has a degree in global affairs and political science. With their powers combined, they are clearly the masterminds behind the dynamic, and progressive persona of Anna Wintour
While the personalities that lead these teams are quite different, there are plenty of similarities between the teams themselves. They are all made up of people with highly diverse fields of expertise, who share a common passion. Powerful leaders need to surround themselves with equally powerful people, and they need to leave them room to grow and become proactive. These teams feel like there’s a personal stake when it comes to the success of the person who’s in charge. And this feeling can be achieved by anyone, as long as they know how to keep their employees motivated and engaged. A leader is only as powerful as their team.
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