Subconsciously or not, we as a society place a lot of faith on our leaders. They are not only people who we place the responsibility of the masses on but also associate them with a source of hope and assurance.

king in chess

Leaders are known to be true visionaries. When an insightful leader works their entire lives to change the course of history by creating, finding, or executing something that will better people’s lives, they become immortals! Their bodies perish, but their vision, labor, and words live on amidst people forever.

So picking the most inspiring leaders from throughout history is not an easy task to say the least. One of the reasons this has become a near-impossible undertaking is that inspiration arrives in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Some leaders rose to prominence as a result of their determination to pursue a dream despite adversity. They went on to achieve such incredible feats that they are remembered for long after their deaths.

Others, on the other hand, stood firm in their convictions and demonstrated for the rights of others. They left no stone unturned, even if it meant jeopardizing their own freedom, not to mention their lives.

Then again, some leaders, are truly inspirational and well-respected because of their natural ability to create, empower, and influence people to take important actions and, as a result, alter the world.

Martin Luther King Jr.

quote by MLK

Few Americans are as well-known as this Baptist clergyman and social activist Martin Luther King Jr. He was a legendary civil rights activist who led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States until his tragic death in 1968 and transformed America forever.

As a kid, he faced a tough struggle his entire life growing up as an African-American born in the rural south in 1929. Martin was a smart student hailing from Atlanta, Georgia.

He graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 and then went on to Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. MLK first became extremely conscious of racial inequity at Morehouse College.

He along with 61 other civil rights activists created the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 after years of successful civil rights campaigning.

MLK’s visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace in India two years later inspired him to continue along the road of peaceful advocacy.

He would make history on August 28, 1963, when he delivered the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

His speech resonated with the masses like no other. It made him an unforgettable personality all around the globe and an inspiration for the generation to come.

King’s endeavors had such an impact on American racial politics that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was passed as a result of his work. MLK was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year. It empowered the federal government to outlaw discrimination on grounds of race among several other factors like color, sex, religion etc.

The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was a devastating conclusion to a magnificent life that had a monumental influence on a nation. He demonstrated, like Gandhi, that nonviolent protests may have a huge impact.

Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life for the civil rights cause. His legacy is stronger than ever nearly 50 years after his death. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the United States that falls on the third Monday of January every year.

Stephen Hawking

quote by Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is celebrated as the physicist who proved that willpower and positive thinking can overcome even the most difficult obstacles.

Stephen Hawking has all the reasons in the world to give up on life. He was only 21 when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This led him to spending the majority of his life severely crippled, to the point that he can only manage his communication gadget using his cheek muscles.

Despite this incapacitating disease Hawking became arguably the most well-known theoretical physicist since Albert Einstein. He is well-known for his revolutionary work in the fields of cosmology, quantum physics, and black holes.

Hawking’s approach stems from his insistence on not making excuses for his limitations. Jane Hawking, his ex-wife, credited his attitude on life to a mix of drive and tenacity. Both features have a pedigree, as Hawking plainly reveals.

Bill Gates

quote by Bill Gates

Bill Gates is a philanthropist and entrepreneur who has inspired a generation of innovators. He is synonymous with information technology in a way that very few others are (IT).

It was not until he was 13, that he saw his very first computer in school. He had to pay to use it. Later when his money ran out, he hacked into it to use it for free. You could say that young Bill was predestined for an inventive career in IT at this moment.

Bill Gates was born into an upper-middle-class Seattle family and had a strong relationship with his mother. He had sparks of genius at a young age, including a flair for commerce and entrepreneurship.

He founded a company with his friend Paul Allen when he was 15 years old. They had no idea that just five years later, they would be on the verge of revolutionizing the way contemporary global trade and communication worked.

Microsoft was co-founded by Gates and Allen in 1975. And the two devoted their hearts and souls into it. Microsoft became the world’s largest technological corporation because to Gates’ remarkable vision, aggressive business strategy, and unequalled work ethic. He amassed enormous money as a result of his efforts.

Microsoft had already grown to 128 staff and was generating $16 million in revenue when Gates and Allen chose to incorporate the company in 1981. The company went global just two years later.

Surprisingly, Gates’ legacy does not end with the establishment of Microsoft. Bill and Melinda Gates have launched a $44 billion fund to enhance healthcare and alleviate extreme global poverty as committed philanthropists.

It is the world’s largest private organization of its sort. Bill Gates had contributed $28 billion to the foundation by 2013, displaying his compassion and moral values.

Oprah Winfrey

quote by Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey has defied the odds to inspire a whole generation of women to achieve their goals.

Oprah Winfrey is a lot more than just a TV show host. She is among the most prominent corporate leaders in the world, with significant sway over pop culture and mainstream media.

She is worth over $3 billion and has made great strides from her humble beginnings in rural Mississippi. It would be an understatement to just suggest that Oprah, a black woman from the south, beat the odds.

Few people with her upbringing and dual-minority status in the 1970s and 1980s could have imagined making it in entertainment industry.

Her hardships did not begin because of her ethnicity or gender. Her childhood was marred by horrific sexual assault at the hands of family members and friends.

She travelled to Nashville to live with her father after a tumultuous youth in the little farming community of Kosciusko. She graduated from Tennessee State University in 1971 and moved to Baltimore, Maryland five years later to begin her television career.

Oprah Winfrey launched her own nationally syndicated television show, Oprah Winfrey Show, by 1986. This was the stage that propelled her to critical praise and international renown. Oprah pledged that her show would be respectful and free of unethical material.

Despite lower ratings at first, Oprah remained true to her words. Over time, Oprah’s integrity would bring her more recognition and fortune, as she established herself as a stalwart in an industry rife with cheap gimmicks.

Oprah has made a significant contribution to the publishing industry through Oprah’s Book Club, in addition to her television program and media stardom. Not only did this section of her show encourage literacy, but it also helped little known authors gain recognition for their work.

Her kindness did not end there. She has also raised hundreds of millions of dollars for children and impoverished youngsters all over the world through various charities.

Oprah was named the wealthiest African American of the twentieth century, according to Forbes. She was also named the most influential woman of her generation by Life Magazine. These serve as a testimony to this media giant who has not only accomplished so much, but also pushed a generation of young women to chase their aspirations, regardless of color and ethnicity.

our top 4 leaders

So, that’s all there is to it.

Four inspirational leaders whose foresight, determination, and dedication to their ideals helped them overcome adversity and achieve near-impossible victories.

We have found ourselves having gained a better understanding of what it takes to be an inspiring leader by learning more about their extraordinary tales and how they have reinvented leadership.