Especially striking in our new ranking of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders is how many of them you may not recognize. In our media-saturated, personality-obsessed global culture, how can that be? Yet it is so, and that’s what makes this group so heartening. It turns out the world is full of people you’ve never heard of who are rallying followers to make life better in ways you never imagined. The professor who led the group that uncovered the Flint, Mich., water crisis; the New Delhi government official risking his career to fight pollution; the Italian mayor welcoming Middle East migrants to his tiny town—improving its economy and brightening their prospects. Who knew?
Plenty of other great leaders cited here are rightly famous, and we’ve recognized some in previous editions of the list, including Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos—our new No. 1 (read the fascinating feature article here)—Apple (AAPL) chief Tim Cook, and Pope Francis.
But fame alone, of course, is not a sign of accomplishment or leadership. And among celebrities, merely endorsing or supporting a good cause, however worthwhile, isn’t enough to merit a place on the list. The ones we recognize here have truly made full second careers of the causes they care about. That’s why you’ll find neo-soul crooner John Legend—a tireless advocate for criminal-justice reform and smarter investment in public education—sharing a page with the Pope. And it’s why we’ve taken a long, close look at the philanthropic reach of U2 frontman Bono.
Anyone who has been ranked previously must requalify each year with new achievements. As always, we cast a wide net, seeking outstanding leaders in all sectors of society around the world. It isn’t enough to be accomplished, brilliant, or admirable. We recognize those who are inspiring others to act, to follow them on a worthy quest, and who have shown staying power. No mere flashes in the pan, and thus none of the U.S. presidential aspirants, make our list. And no, we didn’t select Donald Trump, the phenomenon of the moment (for more on that, see our Editor’s Desk); many candidates over the decades have ignited flames that flared brightly and then went out if the candidate lost the nomination or the election; others have proved to be little more than demagogues. Simply applying for the world’s top leadership job, as Trump and his rivals are doing now, does not in itself make one a great leader. Nor, as you’ll see, does having that job necessarily put you on our list.
The leaders you’ll meet on The World’s Greatest Leaders list, known and new, will lift your mood and upgrade your assessment of the world’s future. Some may inspire you to join their followers. And those unheard-ofs, so seemingly ordinary, may even prompt you to rethink your own potential as an inspiring leader.
A version of the article appears in the April 1, 2016 version of Fortune.