It's not easy being the boss. A few decades ago, CEOs might have needed sparkling leadership skills and a knack for growing profits, but these days creativity, innovation and the ability to inspire are just as vital to business success.
From college prodigies who've gone on to rule social media empires, to global leaders who combine philanthropy with financial nous - meet seven top bosses turning leadership into an art.
Mark Zuckerberg's programming smarts may have changed the way we connect and communicate, but his crystal-clear vision for Facebook has ensured that the social network turns over profits in the vicinity of $1 billion a year1. Although the 28-year-old wunderkind attracts his fair share of criticism for the site's controversial privacy policies, his focus on his company's trajectory is a lesson in keeping your eyes on the prize.
When incoming Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, was photographed pregnant and on the cover of Time magazine, cynics were concerned about how a mother-to-be would juggle the pressures of leading a Silicon Valley tech giant. A little over a year later, the news that the once-ailing search engine had clocked 800 million active monthly users2 is proof that a healthy family life and stellar career is more than just a pipe dream.
Top bosses understand that great risk equals great reward. No one personifies that mantra quite like Richard Branson, the Virgin Group's daredevil CEO. Although Branson owns more than 400 companies and is worth $4.6 billion3, his audacity knows no bounds - the launch of space travel offshoot Virgin Galactic is a case in point.
Ranked 10th in Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women list, PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi knows a thing or two about turning a company around. Nooyi made the controversial decision to do away with the fast food assets the company is synonymous with to focus on healthier offerings - proof that top bosses should know when it's time to admit their firm's direction is wrong.
It's no secret that top bosses often earn a healthy paycheque. If you're Warren Buffet, an inflated bank account is extra incentive to support philanthropic ventures. The wealthy financier and head of US conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway donates 83 per cent of his considerable fortune to charity4 - an inspirational move that proves changing the world might just be more important than striking it rich.
When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos started selling books online, no one quite believed that e-commerce would turn retail on its head. Bezos's fierce commitment to creating a business model built on customer insights, and his record of relentless innovation has seen the online retail giant go from strength to strength.
There's no denying that making it to the top can be a matter of class, education and opportunities. If you're Howard Schultz, however, owning the world's largest caffeine franchise is simply a matter of making your own luck. The Starbucks head honcho may have born to a poor family in the Bronx, but he turned a passing interest in coffee bars into a worldwide phenomenon - evidence that hard work, resilience and courage in the face of adversity can be a future leader's best friends.
Do you have a favourite top boss? Put some of their positive qualities into practice and you may just get a 'best boss' award of your own.
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Neha Kale is a freelance writer and editor with over six years’ experience in the media and finance industries. She has held senior editorial positions at various business and technology publications and specialises in online strategy, innovation, creativity and management best practices.