myth of leaders

The Myth of Great Leaders



admire sphere (2) conventional
invent settle for outstanding
consist distribute accomplishment
court (2) innovate manufacture
set up eccentric charismatic
urge wizardry work out (2)
foster advantage signature (2)
void credit (2) automatically
fruition bankroll mousetrap



Throughout history, everyone has loved and admired great leaders in all spheres: government . . . military . . . science . . . technology . . . religion . . . society.

In business, the conventional view is that outstanding success is a one-man show.

A man looks around and thinks, “Hmmm. I can build a better mousetrap.” And so he invents one, then makes and sells them.

Everyone buys them — and he becomes a hero.

But in reality, that’s not it’s not that simple.


Most successful businesses are formed out of partnerships. The partnership consists of the innovator (the one with the creation, idea or invention); and the actuator(s) — the one(s) who bring product or idea to fruition by courting investors, setting up factories, manufacturing and distributing the product to the rest of the world.

Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates

Steve Jobs has always been the charismatic face of Apple.

But it was co-founding partner Steve Wozniak with his technical wizardry that created the company’s signature computers.

Thomas Edison was, of course, a creative genius.

But his inventions wouldn’t have spread fast, so far if his works hadn’t been bankrolled by J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt family. Moreover, Edison had a team of technicians that were responsible for most of the 1,093 patents filed by Edison’s labs.

Bill Gates is Microsoft.

But as the company grew, his childhood friend Paul Allen was with him every step of the way. In fact, it was Allen who urged Gates to start the company.

The Innovator and the Actuator

One man is the innovator. The other is the actuator. Both are equally important . . .

But since the media, society and history likes to focus on the “Great Leader”, only one of them gets all the credit.

There are some advantages to being a lone dog.

The biggest one?

You get to keep all the profits.

The Advantages of Partnerships

But the advantages of having a partner are many and even greater. Without the actuator, the innovator is a wasted talent. Without the innovator, the actuator is an eccentric shouting in the void.

If you are an actuator, don’t settle for an executive position. Become a partner. If you are an innovator, don’t think your invention will automatically make you rich and famous. Look for a partner.

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1. People believe that in government, military, business, science, technology, society — only one man accomplished everything. Is this true or false?

2. What do most people think of inventors and innovators?

3. Describe the normal route or steps to success of a product or service. What is the normal route or steps to the success of a product or service?

4. It is usual for one person to accomplish everything?

5. Describe the three classical examples given. What do people think of them?

6. Everyone involved in an enterprise or endeavor gets equal credit. Is this correct or wrong?

7. What is the main idea, lesson or message of this article?


A. Does your nation celebrate single great leaders, discoverers and innovators? Who are some of them?

B. Is it fair that one man (or woman) gets all the credit, fame and glory for an invention, enterprise or endeavor?

C. Most people would rather be a technician, engineer, assistant or supporter rather than the leader. Do you agree? Which would you rather be?

D. We need great leaders to lead and inspire everyone else. What do you think?

E. What will happen in the future?

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