Worshiping Visionary Leaders Hurts Innovation

If there is one thing collectively valued by every society in the world, it’s the idea of a visionary. Humans seem to like the concept of someone looking into the distance and seeing what no one notices. A person who ignores everyone around them saying, “it’s a mirage,” and walks into the nothingness to bring something useful back from the void.  A visionary, must ignore the naysayers. If everyone saw what they see, they wouldn’t be a visionary. As a culture, we like to hero-worship visionary people—the innovators and pioneers who better our world.  People are so hungry for a singular genius who “think different”, that once someone is broadly accepted as a visionary, people will give them credit for ideas they didn’t have. A pile of innovator points awarded by nothing but perception gives them the advantage of support for any idea, no matter how stupid. Again if everyone saw the world like them, they wouldn’t be a visionary. But this chokes innovation. In the case of Musk, like Steve Jobs and many others before him, perception acts as armor, deflecting skepticism and attracting capital. At times Tesla’s been worth more than its ten top car manufacturing competitors’ values combined. The lesson a lot of folks took from this (and other “success” stories) is that cloaking themselves in an innovator’s shroud is a cheat code to success. I don’t want to get into Elizabeth Holmes right now, so let’s talk about Adam Neumann. Neumann managed to get WeWork to a…Worshiping Visionary Leaders Hurts Innovation

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