Today’s Emerging Breed of Leaders: Billionaires in Jeans!


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In this post, we are going to examine why today’s business leaders and billionaires are becoming younger and unorthodox in their ways as shown in the type of clothes they wear in public such as t-shirts and jeans or denim!

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The traditional dress code for business leaders is the corporate attire and not t-shirts and denim pants! So, what’s wrong with our current age that the new breed of CEOs just wears ordinary clothes reserved for the young or teenagers?


Take note that with the advent of digital technology and the cyberspace, the locus of doing business has shifted from the ordinary physical space to the wired or electronic space of the Internet and the hyperreal! From the physical store to the online store! From face-to-face interaction to online interaction mediated by the computer or smartphone screen!

Those who lead and use the latest technologies and the emerging global trade based on intellectual property are now the emerging breed of business leaders—billionaires who wear t-shirts, jeans or denim. Yes! They literally wear denim and t-shirts because they are relatively young people who earn their money by creatively exploring the business opportunities offered by the current technological and intellectual property age!


Wearing shirts and denim instead of the typical coat and tie for business leaders also indicates a new image and social status for today’s new breed of entrepreneurs. Research studies showed that deliberate deviations from convention had a powerful effect on others. It implies that people who deliberately break the norms are saying that they cannot be ruled by the current social rules because they are creators of a new set of laws!

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The breaking of the traditional dress code for business leaders symbolically  conveys the message that the billionaires in jeans are not the traditional business heroes who just sit comfortably in their CEO offices and neatly dressed in their suits, but new type of leaders who can be present anywhere as long as they have the latest gadgets and technologies to create and manage their businesses. They are not afraid to get dirty to raise their next billion online! The jeans and t-shirts symbolize mobility and flexibility which is the spirit of global business characterized by fluidity and liquidity. The territory of their business is not primarily the temporal space of the physical store or office but the cyberspace where their online markets can be found.


Younger people are generally curious and creative compared to older persons which would make them the suitable drivers of today’s digital technology, online interaction, and social media. They are technology savvy who love to tinker with the computer, create new apps or networks in the social media,  full of energy to surf and explore the electronic world using their latest gadgets for long hours. Older people are generally less tech-savvy and lack impatient in exploring the complex language and network of the computer world and cyberspace. And yet the new opportunities that create massive and instant wealth are available in the cyberspace and digital technology. They are now in one’s fingertips, in the high-tech and high-speed laptop and smartphones.

Doing business nowadays is now predominantly online. All one has to do is to connect to the cyberspace and be creative in exploring and using the different apps, sites, platforms,  social media, software, etc., to create wealth!

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The new breed of leaders do business in the cyberspace where corporate attire is unnecessary as long as they are comfortable with the clothes they wear while using their latest high-tech smartphones and gadgets for their online business, totally different from the traditional leaders who primarily do business in the physical world where physical looks and attire matter!


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3 Types of Leadership: What Kind of a Leader are You?


The German sociologist Max Weber identified three ideal types of leadership in which authority may rest: (1) charismatic, (2) traditional, and (3) rational-legal. In any society or institution, the power of the leader may be exercised on the basis of a mixture of these 3 types of leadership.

  1. Charismatic Leadership


Charismatic Leadership is founded on the personal traits and gifts of the leader. The more  authentic these personal traits are as perceived by the people, the higher is the legitimacy of the leader. People obey the leader, not primarily because of certain laws or traditions, but because of his/her personal talents. Because it is a personalized form of authority, charismatic leadership tends to be unstable. It does not normally survive after the death of the original leader, and it often abandons the leader while he or she is alive. Charismatic leaders in history include  Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, St. Francis of Asisi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, etc.

In  corporate settings, charismatic leaders like Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, to name a few, are creative, innovative, and visionary people. They have extraordinary talents that ordinary managers do not possess. They usually introduce innovation, creativity, or unique management style in their business environments.

         2. Traditional authority


Traditional leadership is one that is based on some sort of tradition that is handed down from the past. The leader is obeyed by the people as a legitimate leader because of a formal or informal norm handed down by great leaders or managers from the past. This kind of leadership is based on customs and traditions of the business firms.  The leader is not usually innovative but conservative. He or she is just continuing what is being practiced by the company based on tradition.

      The ordination of a priest by a bishop is an example of traditional authority. The new priest received his power and authority by way of tradition, and people obey him as a legitimate spiritual pastor of the Church. Succession in monarchy is also done through traditional authority. Tradition dictates that only persons with royal blood can ascend to the throne.

           3. Rational-Legal Leadership


         The last type of leadership proposed by Max Weber is the most common type of authority in modern and contemporary society. This leadership is based on a set of rules, and the belief in the legitimacy of the process of rule creation and enforcement. This form of domination is routinized through bureaucracy. The leader assumes the right to exercise power over the people because the law says so.

        The leader’s authority is held by legally established impersonal orders and extends to people only by virtue of the offices they hold. The power of government officials, for instance, is determined by the offices to which they are appointed or elected because of their individual qualifications. As long as individuals hold these offices, they have a certain amount of power. But once they leave office, their rational-legal authority is also lost.  Though personal traits also count in the selection process, a fixed law becomes the primary legitimizer of the leader’s capacity to exercise leadership. His authority expires when he retires or becomes incapacitated as stipulated by law.

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What kind of a leader are you? Which type of leadership do you aim to achieve?

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