As the world closed in and became connected through radio and television, and later the internet, society became attracted to the greats of the world. There were those who raced and pushed the human mind beyond the confines of the Earth, while others used words and public demonstration to create equality, end racism and stop the war. They became the trusted voices, identifiable leaders who guided the world to the present state and dreamed for the next generations.
Today, as society loses faith in empty political promises and the lack of leadership, we again look for hope in the media, seeking inspiration and change. But no longer are we drawn to people who use words or dream to inspire a different world. Our adrenalin filled minds seek action; we crave risk and passion, money and fame. We now synonymise leadership with entrepreneurship, without understanding the different drivers and motivations of each.
Leaders are dreamers. They project the future through their words and action, taking small steps within society to create change amongst the masses. It is often a measured and planned process, but progressively revolutionises society together towards a common dream. They create change from within, ensuring that they don’t agitate during the process.
An entrepreneur pioneers change through a product or business. They are often running a sprint, not a marathon, leading the charge to create new and exciting products, before moving on to the next thing. They innovate and move quickly, hoping that society will catch up and meet them, rather than motivating them to change.
While both strive to create something better for the future, the key drivers motivating entrepreneurs and leaders are essentially different. Yet, in a connected and concentrated world, we place both on par with each other, elevating entrepreneurs as natural leaders without doubt.
To provide an example, think of Elon Musk. A natural innovator and entrepreneur who has forever changed the car and renewables, and maybe one day space travel, Musk has been named as a transformational leader who creates radical change. Yet while his products ride the innovation uptake curve, the natural innovator focuses on building the next product rather than creating change within society. At the other end of the spectrum, it is difficult to contend that Dr. Martin Luther King was an entrepreneur who had a dream, created something and moved on.
Both men have sought to create change, yet one has done this through inventing products which disrupt and shape the way we live and work, and the other through societal influence; by gaining the support of the community around him, rather than agitating for change.
In a world of growing connectivity, short attention spans and a constant state of rush, perhaps invention and entrepreneurship is the rise of a new form of leadership? Are we no longer inspired by the dreaming of our visionaries and instead idolise and seek inspiration from an entrepreneur who gains fame with products and technology that shape the way we live?