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.
RANK NAME TITLE AFFILIATION
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
24

Zhang Ruimin

CEO, Haier Group
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Zhang Ruimin, chairman and chief executive officer of Haier Group, speaks during the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China, on Monday, June 27, 2016.
Qilai Shen—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Many CEOs call their employees associates; others call them partners. Zhang calls all 73,000 of them ­entrepreneurs—and actually means it. It’s one sign of how Zhang is changing his company, the world’s No. 1 appliance maker, and in the process reconceiving the large business organization more profoundly than anyone else on the planet.

 

He’s winning in part by expanding through acquisition; in 2016 he bought General Electric’s appliance business for $5.4 billion. More fundamentally, Zhang sees a future that most CEOs don’t. “Competitions in the Internet era are not between companies but between platforms,” he tells Fortune. At Haier, teams of people who may not be Haier employees come together for projects and then disperse. A product can also be a platform for multiple companies. One example: For a networked “smart” oven project, companies that might sell food via the device could pay to be partners, enabling Haier to reduce appliance prices.

 

Haier consists of some 3,000 company-funded entrepreneurial micro-enterprises that live or die by their individual success, plus a few hundred teams funded partly by outside investment. “If a startup team cannot attract any venture capital, they can either consider how to progress and strive harder or they will be dismissed,” Zhang explains.

 

So how do you turn thousands of corporate employees into entrepreneurs? Wrong question. “The task is not to turn Haier’s internal staff into entrepreneurs, but rather to attract all the entrepreneurs in society onto our platform,” Zhang says.

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