Great leaders are not born great. They achieve greatness through their actions, they find courage in defining moments, and are driven to change the world for good. They inspire others at the same time. Fortune magazine publishes an annual list of the World’s Greatest Leaders. Here we take a look at the top 10 greatest leaders in business, philanthropy, the arts, and government based on Fortune’s 2019 list.
Ranked: Top 10 greatest leaders
10- Doug McMillon and Lisa Woods
Doug McMillon is the chief executive of Walmart and Lisa Woods serves as senior director of US healthcare at the retail behemoth. Walmart has close to 1.5 million employees in the United States. Looking after the healthcare of its employees has been a major financial burden for Walmart due to the ridiculously high cost of healthcare in the US.
McMillon and Woods took an innovative approach to healthcare. Back in 2013, they launched the Center for Excellence to allow Walmart employees to go to top hospitals for select procedures. The effort paid off well. The employees treated at a Center of Excellence returned to work earlier. The program also reduced the chances of readmission by a staggering 95%.
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9- Jose Andres
Chef Jose Andres owns several restaurants across the United States and is one of the finest chefs in North America. He also runs a non-profit called World Central Kitchen (WCK) to feed the poor. Andres launched the non-profit after volunteering in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. Since then, the WCK has fed hurricane victims in Florida, Texas, and North Carolina; in Indonesia after the tsunami; and in Hawaii and Guatemala after volcanic eruptions.
8- Anna Nimiriano
Anna Nimiriano is the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Juba Monitor. She has risked her life to bring truth to people in South Sudan, where the civil war has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. She has been documenting the lives of ordinary citizens in the war-torn African nation. She has received death threats and has been asked to shut down the newspaper more than once. Most Americans might not have heard her name, but she deserves to be among the world’s greatest leaders.
7- Margrethe Vestager
Vestager has been serving as the European Commissioner for Competition since 2014. The US government and regulators remain clueless about how to deal with technology giants that are actively engaging in anti-competitive behavior. But Vestager-led European Commission ordered Google to change the way it handles shopping-related search results to give other merchants a fair space in search results. She has also slapped a $9 billion penalty on Google for misusing its dominance in Europe. The European Commission is currently investigating Facebook, and has asked Apple to shell out $15 billion in back taxes.
6- Greta Thunberg
16-year-old Greta Thunberg is the youngest leader on this list. Last year, the Swedish climate activist started skipping her school to sit outside the Swedish parliament, demanding immediate action to combat global warming. Since she began her protests, more than 1.4 million students from over a hundred countries have joined her call of strike and protest. She has also been nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.
5- Satya Nadella
Satya Nadella is known for successfully turning around Microsoft and giving it a new direction. As the chief executive of Microsoft, he flattened the organization, eliminating the need for middle managers. He has focused on cloud computing and on working with companies that are Microsoft’s competitors. Microsoft’s stock has more than tripled under his leadership, surpassing $1 trillion in valuation.
4- Pony Ma
Alibaba founder Jack Ma has become a familiar name in the United States, but Tencent Holdings founder and CEO Pony Ma likes to keep a low profile. He has a net worth of $38 billion and he leads one of the world’s largest Internet companies. Tencent’s WeChat app has successfully created the ‘super-app’ model, where you can pay bills, book tickets, play games, order food, and do much more with just a single app.
3- Robert Mueller
The former FBI director and Special Counsel for the US Department of Justice has shown the world how someone should handle an extremely sensitive investigation. He resigned from the Office of the Special Counsel in May this year. Mueller led the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential elections. Amid all the hype and political chaos, Robert Mueller and his team showed their commitment to the rule of law and evidence, even though he had to sacrifice his own reputation.
2- Jacinda Ardern
The Prime Minister of New Zealand is the second greatest leader of 2019. At age 37, she became the world’s youngest female head of government. Fortune magazine says “she deftly, empathetically, and humbly navigated New Zealand through the worst terror attack in its history.” More than 50 people were killed in the Christchurch terror attack. She is one of the world’s most powerful women.
1- Bill and Melinda Gates
The co-founders of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have donated more than $45 billion of their wealth to charity since 1995. They have funded numerous programs to eradicate poverty and diseases like polio and malaria in African and Asian nations. The GAVI program alone has helped immunize more than 700 million children against deadly diseases. Bill and Melinda Gates have put their time, money, power, and efforts to alleviate extreme poverty.