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 fourth annual list here. Read the 2018 edition of this list here.
1 Theo Epstein President, Baseball Operations Chicago Cubs
2 Jack Ma Executive Chairman Alibaba Group
3 Pope Francis Head of the Roman Catholic Church -
4 Melinda Gates Cochair Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
5 Jeff Bezos Founder and CEO Amazon
6 Ava DuVernay Film Director and Screenwriter -
7 H.R. McMaster U.S. National Security Adviser -
8 Tsai Ing-Wen President Taiwan
9 John McCain U.S Senator Arizona
10 Angela Merkel Chancellor Germany
11 LeBron James Small Forward Cleveland Cavaliers
12 John Kasich Governor Ohio
13 John Delaney U.S. Representative Maryland
14 Helle Thorning-Schmidt CEO Save the Children International
15 Katharine Hayhoe Director, Climate Science Center TexasTech
16 Bryan Stevenson Executive Director Equal Justice Initiative
17 Janet Yellen Chair Federal Reserve
18 Brian Chesky CEO and Head of Community Airbnb
19 Samantha Bee Host and Executive Producer "Full Frontal"
20 Paul Polman CEO Unilever
21 John Roberts Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court
22 Janeé Harteau Chief of Police Minneapolis
23 Joe Biden Former U.S. Vice President -
24 Zhang Ruimin CEO Haier Group
25 Carmen Aristegui Host and Reporter Aristegui Noticias
26 Arundhati Bhattacharya Chairman State Bank of India
27 Shakira Singer, Songwriter, and Producer -
28 Raj Panjabi CEO Last Mile Health
29 Svetlana Gannushkina Founder Citizens Assistance Committee
30 Elon Musk CEO Tesla and SpaceX
31 Justin Trudeau Prime Minister Canada
32 Rebecca Richards-Kortum Professor Rice University
33 Strive Masiyiwa Chairman Econet Wireless Group
34 Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland, and Carmen Perez National Cochairs The Women's March on Washington
35 Diana Natalicio President University of Texas at El Paso
36 Ohood Al Roumi Minister of Happiness United Arab Emirates
37 Fazle Abed CEO BRAC
38 Haruno Yoshida President BT Japan
39 Jamie Dimon CEO JPMorgan Chase
40 Yuri Milner Founder DST Global
41 Randall Stephenson Chairman and CEO AT&T
42 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Novelist and Essayist -
43 Marc Benioff CEO and Chairman Salesforce
44 Frank Mugisha Executive Director Sexual Minorities Uganda
45 Dalia Grybauskaitė President Lithuania
46 Chance the Rapper Musician and Activist -
47 Hu Shuli Editor-in-Chief Caixin Media
48 Sadiq Khan Mayor London
49 Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor CEO Intercorp
50 Lisa Su CEO Advanced Micro Devices

Brian Chesky

CEO and Head of Community, Airbnb
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Co-founder and CEO of Airbnb Brian Chesky sits on a bed at a bed and breakfast in Langa township, Cape Town, South Africa March 17, 2017.
Mike Hutchings—Reuters

Nine years ago, Chesky and fellow cofounders Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk were hustling to get a business off the ground that most investors scoffed at. Today the disruptive “home-sharing” platform claims some 160 million “guest arrivals”—2 million people slept in Airbnb accommodations this past New Year’s Eve alone—and a private-market valuation of $31 billion.


As CEO, Chesky—the only one of the three founders with no prior business experience—has scaled with the company and then some, steering Airbnb through regulatory opposition, headline-­generating safety incidents and an existential crisis around discriminatory behavior on its platform. He has led the business to new heights too, overseeing an ambitious expansion into “experiences,” events, and other services (coming soon, we’re told: flights) and leading Airbnb to something few unicorns can claim: profitability.


Last month Chesky ­added head of community to his title, a shift to cozy up to the people who control and deliver the product he sells: Airbnb’s hosts. The touchy-feely tactics set up a stark contrast to Airbnb’s sharing-economy alter-ego, Uber, under attack for an allegedly aggressive and sexist culture and for a leaked video showing CEO Travis Kalanick berating an Uber driver. Kalanick has said he needs leadership help. He might take a page from his fellow disrupter’s playbook.


“[Brian Chesky] feels it all the way through. I think he would be doing what he’s doing if he didn’t get paid a dime for it.”—Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway, from “The Airbnb Story” by Leigh Gallagher

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