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The 10 Most Cutting-Edge Business Leaders in 2021

The world is evolving at a blazing speed. In the next decades to come, all of us will experience the impact of automation and globalization. Machines, in fact, are predicted to replace the workforce within the coming years. Depending on the nature of the industry, robotics and computer learning will impact the global workforce—underscoring the glaring connection between automation and modern leadership.

Business Leaders 1
Cutting-edge leadership!

As we make our way through the 21st century, there is increasing awareness of the significance and need for modern leadership. It has been defined as the capacity to create a vision, adapt the values of that vision, and cultivate an environment for achieving an organization’s goals and aspirations.

How Does a Leader Stand Out in A Competitive Business World?

Any business leader who wants to become relevant must be willing to adapt to the changing times. It’s not enough to have a clear set of vision, mission, and goals; these are all futile without effective modern-day leadership.

Before we introduce to you our list of the most cutting-edge business leaders of today, let’s discover what it takes to become a role model in the modern business world.

Establish Professional Camaraderie

Businesses are changing rapidly, and so are people! The new breed of young professionals is a generation of social people, perhaps more social and outgoing than you. They tend to emphasize social validation in their careers, which is why highlighting empathy in leadership works. It doesn’t hurt to become a little bit personal and establish good connections with your workers. Share with them some useful insights and inspiring stories. Try to get to know them. The more you know who they are, their personalities, their aspirations, and their ideas, the more effective you become in leading and supporting them.

Lead with Flexibility

Since we are no longer living in the ‘90s, effective business leaders must learn non-traditional leadership. To support and lead the new generation, they must be able to give them space. What worked in the past may no longer work in the modern world. Emphasize collaboration, taking responsibilities, and getting things done. These days, leadership isn’t always about being a CEO, a senior director, a manager, or a team leader. Positions and labels are not significant anymore; modern leadership is measured by how much of a positive influence you are. It’s about inspiring the new generation and helping them establish their social space and recognition.

Adapt to the Rapidly-Evolving Generations

There’s a new breed of young professionals that possess different traits and personalities. Whether they are millennials or generation Z, these people are enthusiastic, passionate, curious, independent, and full of aspirations that will change the world. Just when you thought you have figured out the type of leadership you’ll adapt, a new breed of professionals will be part of your company. They have traits that are new to you and ready to challenge the norms. Instead of becoming frustrated, learn to adapt with them positively, and explore ways on how you can learn from them.

Indeed, managing or establishing a business is challenging. The capacity to surpass challenges and learn from setbacks is generally what separates the thriving from the unsuccessful. Effective business leaders must have a clear mission, vision, discovering strengths and weaknesses, and perseverance. Regardless of what the majority of us perceive, not every moral has to be gained through the first-hand encounter.

To successfully thrive in the world of rapidly-changing businesses, modern leaders in the 21st century must effectively manage their employees, customers, and investors. They must lead and serve their organizations and their employees without compromising the effectiveness of their leadership.

Here, we put together the world’s 10 inspiring individuals who exhibit modern leadership and making a positive change:


Brian Armstrong

“The average person may, at a high level, think of us as a digital currency bank, but we’re not a bank.

Brian Armstrong is the CEO of Coinbase, the biggest U.S.-based cryptocurrency startup in San Francisco, California. Coinbase’s CEO has always considered the internet as a platform to change the world. Initially, he felt he was too late in the internet revolution since Andy Grove from Intel, and Steve Jobs from Apple have already paved the way. Little did Armstrong know; he was in perfect timing for a different revolution.

Armstrong’s fascination for a financial system could reduce the interference of politicians and middlemen started when he encountered a new cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin. In 2009, he read a paper that clearly describes Bitcoin. Before his breakthrough, he was still working for Airbnb as a software engineer. Armstrong quit his job in 2012 and launched Coinbase to enable customers to store cryptocurrencies and quickly buy goods and services.

Considered as a reputable company and a known competitor to traditional financial sectors, Coinbase has more than 25 million customer accounts. Brian Armstrong’s leadership style is based entirely on collaboration. He is determined to progress the company to even higher potentials. As Coinbase’s CEO, Armstrong always motivates his employees to share ideas and approach him without hesitation.


Brian Chesky

“Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion.”

Brian Chesky has transformed the hospitality industry with his brainchild, Airbnb. A former industrial design student with no background or first-hand experience in business, he shared ideas with Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia. It all started when Chesky and Gebbia decided to put their room for rent to three guests to earn some extra money. Ten years later, Airbnb is used in 190 countries, completely changing the way people travel in the modern times.

Airbnb is now worth $31 billion. In 2017, Chesky led the company to a 50% revenue growth.

Chesky was named one of the most influential people by Time Magazine. He was also recognized as the Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship by former U.S. president Barack Obama. What makes Chesky stand out, according to experts, is the boldness he exhibits in his leadership. In the early stages of Airbnb, Chesky developed a strategy that omitted photos from the home listings. Following disappointing results, he admitted to the mistake and corrected it. Posting booking accommodations without pictures won’t work.


Elon Musk

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”

Elon Musk has been famous for his projects about space and a man who dares to beat the odds. Elon Musk is changing the traditional ways in several industries. He is a leader who “leads from the frontlines.” He is someone who walks the walk and leads by example and putting in the hard work in everything he does. He motivates his employees to think outside the box, work hard, and dream big.

Known for his futuristic view and non-conventional way of thinking, Musk’s popular ideas include sending a Tesla car into space. He expresses an interest in abandoning fossil fuels and shifting to sustainable alternatives such as solar power. Completely aware of the impact of automation, Elon Musk is also an enthusiastic advocate of the universal basic income to counterbalance for the loss of employment. His unwavering passion and bold ideas allowed him to impart a sense of purpose to his close-knit team of professionals.


Evan Spiegel

“It’s not about working harder; it’s about working the system.”

Evan Spiegel is the developer of the highly-popular social media platform Snapchat and the co-founder of Snap Inc. His simple student project transformed into a multi-billion-dollar company. Spiegel firmly believes that his secret to success is in the “99% rule,” which essentially points to how rejecting 99% of proposals and suggestions helped him expand his business.

In 2013, he applied the “99% rule” when Facebook proposed a $13B acquisition of Snapchat. Spiegel rejected the offer, and currently, the company is said to be worth $20B. Aside from Facebook, Google showed interest in acquiring Snapchat, but Spiegel once again rejected the offer.

What makes this young entrepreneur stand out from the rest of the business leaders is in the way he initiates business meetings. Instead of conducting traditional business-related discussions in standard meeting rooms, Spiegel prefers to engage his colleagues in conversations held on a cemented path near his Los Angeles headquarters. He also got rid of the conventional staff meetings. As such, employees would often learn about Snapchat’s new releases from the media.


Jack Ma

“I’m not a tech guy. I’m looking at the technology with the eyes of my customers, normal people’s eyes.”

Chinese e-commerce giant platform, Alibaba, is led by an executive chairman who credits his success to his teaching background. Jack Ma learned how to develop talent that was crucial in his success. He is humble enough to admit that many others are smarter than him and, instead of seeing them as competition, collaborated with them. This leadership philosophy was significant to Alibaba’s massive success.

Jack Ma spent numerous years to impart his expertise to Alibaba’s current chief executive officer, Daniel Zhang, who is eyed to become the Chairman of the Board. Ma shared about succession planning and valuable leadership lessons with shareholders. He also underscores how his company does not depend on a single leader but a system of structural excellence.

A student of life himself, Ma says surviving on challenging days and overcoming mistakes significantly shape a person’s character. Therefore, to become successful, we should learn from others’ mistakes and not from their success stories.


Jeff Bezos

“What’s dangerous is not to evolve.”

Jeff Bezos, the innovative CEO of the $1T e-commerce platform Amazon, lives by his maxim, “It’s always Day 1 at Amazon.” Under his leadership, Amazon has demonstrated an eye for innovation and quickness to adapt to the rapidly-changing pace of the e-commerce world.

As Amazon’s CEO, Bezos focuses on long-term development rather than short-term issues in Wall Street. His vision is always “work two or three years into the future,” and his leadership team has adopted the same mentality. Bezos is also known for his customer-centered leadership philosophy: Amazon sells new items not because the competitor has it but because customers generally need or prefer them.


Jeff Weiner

“Managers will tell people what to do, whereas leaders will inspire them to do it, and there are a few things to go into the ability to inspire.”

The CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner believes that compassion is what separates great and bad leaders. Inspired by the teachings and philosophies of the Dalai Lama, Weiner demonstrates “compassionate leadership” by taking inspired action and helping workers feel better and motivated.

One of the profound things that makes Weiner a great leader is that despite having a busy schedule, he offers 90 minutes of his time daily to teach and have random conversations with his colleagues. This approach has made him become a better leader by fostering productivity and creativity. Today, he oversees the work of more than 14,000 people and was hailed as the Top Chief Executive Officer for 2018 by Glassdoor.


Mark Zuckerberg

“Our philosophy is that we care about people first.”

The person behind Facebook’s success, Mark Zuckerberg, transformed his business from a small startup to a multi-billion-dollar company with more than 20,000 employees. Zuckerberg is the 5th richest person in the world with a $56B net worth. He considers passion as the primary instrument for his success, and this behavior was evident at a young age. At 12 years old, he developed a messaging platform ZuckNet. Several years later, he created a music software platform similar to Amazon Music and Pandora.

Unlike traditional CEOs that collaborate and talk with their staff through meetings, Mark Zuckerberg randomly walks around Facebook’s office to talk with his colleagues and listen to their ideas and proposals. Though he doesn’t agree with them all the time, he gives them the freedom to do things on their own. Zuckerberg thinks this method sparks creativity and motivates his staff to innovate for the benefit of the company.


Reed Hastings

“Most entrepreneurial ideas will sound crazy, stupid, and economical, and then they’ll turn out to be right.”

Reed Hastings is the CEO of the well-known streaming platform Netflix. Hastings is known for keeping his decisions focused with external impact kept to a minimum. It took Hastings 30 minutes to approve the famous political drama titled House of Cards, which cost the company approximately $60M each season. Netflix’s projects get completed fast because of employees who maintain a high degree of autonomy in making new creations.

Also, Hastings rarely intervenes, such that some decisions are made without his intervention. In this unique leadership approach, Hastings motivates employees to take charge. According to him, he encourages people to do what they think is vital for the company. He doesn’t prefer setting up any guidelines to follow. It was in this strategy that made Netflix become a billion-dollar-company. Aside from a humungous billion-dollar net worth, Netflix also soars in employee satisfaction rates.


Reshma Saujaniz

“The culture of tech companies cannot change if women aren’t in the room.”

Before becoming an activist, Reshma Saujani was a practicing lawyer. Currently, she on a mission to eliminate the gender gap in the IT world and encourage more girls to learn coding. Her non-profit organization, Girls Who Code, now helps more than 90,000 girls understand and programming languages and work on them.

Saujani breaks the “boy-in-a-hoodie-in-a-basement” programmer stereotype. Valuing bravery over perfection, she believes women must be brave to go beyond what society dictates or expects of them. According to her, 40% of women are the primary providers for their families, and should not be considering unfit for tech jobs—because they can thrive as IT professionals. Her efforts paid off, as women who undergo Girls Who Code Training are said to be 15 times more likely to work in IT.