Do You Possess These Disruptive Leadership Traits?


Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have all been lauded as disruptive leaders. They spotted market opportunity that other leaders didn’t see. Their unique vision certainly led them to great success. These individuals share other characteristics that work together to bring about change. Do you have these characteristics?

John Furth, author of "Owning Tomorrow: The Unstoppable Force of Disruptive Leadership," has categorized these characteristics. Here are a few items worth thinking about in terms of your own vision for success.

Lifelong Learners

Musk holds degrees in economics and physics. He went on to study for a PhD in energy physics. For Bezos, Princeton was all about electrical engineering and computer science. These leaders didn’t turn off their thirst for learning after they took their final exams. They constant study markets and technology to understand how to develop new ideas.


Disrupting the way established processes work takes creative thinking. Leaders like Bezos and Musk maintain an obsessive focus on how they want tasks and processes changed. Steve Jobs threw temper tantrums until he got his way. The bottom line is they are demanding of themselves and of their teams. They’ll also “push accepted behavioral, cultural, legal, and ethical boundaries to the limit,” Furth observes. To succeed without blowing themselves up, disruptive leaders need a system of checks and balances in place.

Customer Fixation

Business leaders who achieve success in a big way understand their customer base. They seek to improve a basic frustration or aggravation in daily life. Steve Jobs sought to create and deliver a sleek, affordable and easy-​to-​use personal computer. Bezos promises to delight customers with fast delivery and hassle-​free returns. Musk dreams big by imagining travelers affordably cutting commute times with his hyperloop concept now under construction in Los Angeles. These ideas all attract plenty of media attention, which is the equivalent of free marketing.

Some of the disruptive characteristics Furth writes about can be duplicated. If you’re determined to make a difference, you’ll be the one who reads voraciously about tech changes and thinks about ways to implement them. You can also score customer love and sales growth by being fixated on their experiences. Committing to these principles may not make you a billionaire, but you will improve your bottom line.