7 Influential Leaders Who Changed the World

There are many great leaders in history, each with their own significant contributions and lasting legacies. These leaders changed the world in a truly momentous way.

In order to be a leader, you have to earn the respect of followers at one point or another. With respect comes loyalty, and with loyalty comes victory. The real question, however, is what the key to respect is. This question has likely been asked millions of times, and the amount of answers it has received is more than double that. Some may say that mutual respect is key, while others may attest that power is the secret, and then there are those that state that experience is the only way, but no matter what, a leader must find the path that works for them.

In some cases, a leader will earn this respect time and again, and still continue going above and beyond the call of necessity in order to change the very face of the world. Today, we will be looking at seven incredible leaders whose actions have made a real impact on the place that we call home.

Here is a list of influential leaders who changed the world:

1. Nelson Mandela

You will find Nelson Mandela’s name included in many lists of leaders who changed the world. There are times when the spirit of one person can inspire entire generations, both present and future. Nelson Mandela was an excellent example of a spirit that could not be broken, and he proved this time and again.

Mandela held many titles during his lifetime, including revolutionary, activist, prisoner, and even prisoner. From fighting apartheid in his home country of South Africa, to an activist standing against South African segregation, he was not afraid to fight for what he believed in.

This led to his imprisonment in which he spent a staggering 27 years in prison as part of a life sentence. This difficulty of this soul crushing life trial is astounding, but it didn’t break him. After a powerful international campaign for his freedom, Mandela was finally freed once more, and went on to become the first black president of South Africa. A recipient of more than 250 honors, including a Nobel Peace Prize, Nelson Mandela clearly made the most of his leadership role as he possibly could.

@ South Africa The Good News, Wikimedia Commons

2. Martin Luther King, Jr

There’s much to be said about this historical man, as well as many things to learn from his wise example. Dr. King was a staunch supporter of civil rights in the United States, and even helped lead the movement to gain equal rights for minorities in the country. His mark was most certainly left on the United States, as his efforts helped pave the way to the abolition of segregation.

However, Dr. King also left quite the impression on the world, both at the time of his movement and into the future of today. He did this by being a prime example of how effective nonviolent civil disobedience can be an effective means of change in an ugly world. Plus, his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech has been echoed throughout the decades, and is held in high regard alongside many historic speeches that the world hopefully never forget.

Sadly, Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated on April 4, 1968. However, he was recognized for his humanitarian work before his death when he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and he was even granted a posthumous Medal of Freedom, as well as the Congressional Gold Medal following his death.

@ Dick DeMarsico, Wikimedia Commons

3. Mahatma Gandhi

Throughout history, there are examples of one leader’s actions inspiring a future leader’s victories. Mahatma Gandhi is a perfect example of this, as his campaign utilizing civil disobedience and nonviolence inspired our previous entry, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gandhi was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British Rule in the early 1900s. As was said before, he marched towards this goal by teaching his followers the value of nonviolent civil disobedience in his struggle for civil rights.

Clearly, he was successful in teaching many around the world that violence does not have to be the answer to every fight, and proved that a sturdy spirit can accomplish great things in the face of great adversity.

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948, but his influence continues to stretch on into the moral consciousness of today.

4. Abraham Lincoln

As the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln faced a hefty challenge during his time in office. Not only was he inclined towards ending slavery in the United States, but his term was also home to one of the biggest challenges the country had faced in it’s short life. The American Civil War broke out and split the country into the North and South.

President Lincoln showed incredible leadership skills during the taxing time, and proved that he was a political maverick that could bring forth great change. With his historic speech, The Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln was able to set the U.S. on a course to ending the war, as well as abolishing slavery.

While this gratefully benefited the country, and put an end to a horrific era in American history, the effects of his actions reverberated throughout the future. Said actions affected civil rights movements, helped people take the first steps on the very long road towards healing the scars of racism, and even helped heal the country for it’s role in upcoming world events.

@ Alexander Gardner, Wikimedia Commons

5. Winston Churchill

Known for many things, including his sharp wit and laundry list of impressive titles, Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during an incredibly dark moment in recent history.

His life experience as an army officer, a British politician, and a writer helped to mold him into a fiery leader capable of leading a country through the horrors of World War 2. Without his influence, one of the largest wars the world has ever seen may have had a drastically different outcome, more than likely for the worse.

@BiblioArchives, Wikimedia Commons

6. Marie Curie

Leading the way of science in her time, Marie Curie gathered an impressive list of accomplishments during her life. The Polish-born physicist’s most notable discovery was the science of radioactivity. This revelation led to many world changing things, including a few effective cancer treatments.

However, she did far more than that, as she was the very first woman to ever win a Nobel Prize, the first female professor at the University of Paris, and the first person to ever win a second Nobel Prize.

Unfortunately, her work with radiation played a major role in her death, but the legacy that she left behind will cause her to be celebrated for many years to come.

7. Henry Ford

While he did not invent the automobile, Henry Ford made the dream of fast transport a reality using his leadership and business skills. Ford was a famous leader who revolutionized the world by bringing the automobile to the masses in an affordable manner. Due to this advancement, the car has become a common way to travel the world over, and has changed the face of trade, transport, and the future.