World's Greatest Leaders

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In business, government, philanthropy and the arts, and all over the globe, these men and women are transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same. Read more about our third annual list here.
RANK NAME TITLE AFFILIATION AGE
1 Jeff Bezos CEO Amazon 52
2 Angela Merkel Chancellor Germany 61
3 Aung San Suu Kyi Leader National League for Democracy 70
4 Pope Francis Pontiff Roman Catholic Church 79
5 Tim Cook CEO Apple 55
6 John Legend Recording artist and activist The Show Me Campaign 37
7 Christiana Figueres Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 59
8 Paul Ryan Speaker U.S. House of Representatives 46
9 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Associate Justice U.S. Supreme Court 83
10 Sheikh Hasina Prime Minister Bangladesh 68
11 Nick Saban Head football coach The University of Alabama 64
12 Huateng “Pony” Ma Chairman and CEO Tencent 45
13 Sergio Moro Federal Judge Brazil 42
14 Bono Lead singer, Co-founder U2, One 55
15 Stephen Curry and Steve Kerr Point guard, head coach Golden State Warriors -
16 Bryan Stevenson Founder Equal Justice Initiative 56
17 Nikki Haley Governor South Carolina 44
18 Lin-Manuel Miranda Composer, lyricist, author "Hamilton" 36
19 Marvin Ellison CEO J.C. Penney 51
20 Reshma Saujani Founder and CEO Girls Who Code 40
21 Larry Fink CEO BlackRock 63
22 Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko Crew members International Space Station -
23 David Miliband CEO International Rescue Committee 50
24 Anna Maria Chávez CEO Girl Scouts of the USA 48
25 Carla Hayden Nominee Library of Congress 63
26 Maurizio Macri President Argentina 57
27 Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi Co-founders Black Lives Matter -
28 Chai Jing Freelance journalist China 40
29 Moncef Slaoui Chairman of Vaccines GlaxoSmithKline 55
30 John Oliver Host and Executive Producer "Last Week Tonight" 38
31 Marc Edwards Professor Virginia Tech 51
32 Arthur Brooks President American Enterprise Institute 51
33 Rosie Batty Founder Luke Batty Foundation 54
34 Kristen Griest and Shaye Haver Rangers U.S. Army -
35 Denis Mukwege Founder Panzi Hospital 61
36 Christine Lagarde Managing Director IMF 60
37 Marc Benioff CEO Salesforce 51
38 Gina Raimondo Governor Rhode Island 44
39 Amina Mohammed Minister of Environment Nigeria 54
40 Domenico Lucano Mayor Riace, Italy 58
41 Melinda Gates and Susan Desmond-Hellmann Co-chair, CEO Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -
42 Arvind Kejriwal Chief Minister New Delhi 47
43 Jorge Ramos Journalist Univision 58
44 Michael Froman U.S. Trade Representative Executive Office of the President 53
45 Mina Guli CEO Thirst 45
46 Ramón Mendéz Head of Climate Change Policy Uruguay 55
47 Bright Simons President, Founder Mpedigree 34
48 Justin Trudeau Prime Minister Canada 44
49 Clare Rewcastle Brown Editor and Founder Sarawak Report 56
50 Tshering Tobgay Prime Minister Bhutan 50
3

Aung San Suu Kyi

Leader, National League for Democracy, 70
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Suu Kyi waves to supporters before giving a speech during her campaign in her constituency of Kawhmu township outside Yangon.
Soe Zeya Tun — Reuters

Myanmar is about to complete a once-unthinkable transition to democracy after more than 50 years of military dictatorship. Aung San Suu Kyi, 70, won’t be the country’s new leader—at least not officially. But hers was the steady trickle of resistance that wore down the stone of Myanmar’s despotism over almost 30 years of opposition.

 

Suu Kyi, the daughter of one of the founding heroes of the country’s post–World War II independence movement, returned to Myanmar from exile in 1988 to oppose the junta that had taken power in the early 1960s. She co-founded the National League for Democracy and steadfastly renounced violence, even as the military subjected her to house arrest for nearly 20 years. Her personal sacrifice gradually rallied global opinion around her cause, the more so after she won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Worn down by isolation and sanctions, the regime eventually agreed to allow free elections, which the NPD won in a landslide last November.

 

While rules imposed by the junta kept her from personally running for office, it was Suu Kyi’s nearly mythical reputation that rallied voters to her party. And she has made it clear that she will wield decisive behind-the-scenes authority (backing titular President Htin Kyaw, a friend and former aide) in the next, risky phase of the nation’s history.

 

Myanmar’s challenges include a struggling economy and violent conflict among its ethnic groups. But Suu Kyi has already demonstrated that her authenticity as a leader—her willingness to live the right message at any cost—can be a tremendous force for good.

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