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Tony D'Amelio

By: Tony D'Amelio on April 25th, 2018

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Fortune's World's Greatest Leaders 2018: Who Are World's Best Leaders?

Managing/Leading Change | Leadership

The World’s Greatest Leaders list for 2018 has just been announced by Fortune. Five years ago, GEOFF COLVIN (a long-time speaker on business for D’Amelio Network) led the first-ever effort to create Fortune’s fresh look at leaders through a different lens. It’s not the usual suspects of well-known business and political leaders, but instead, a list that celebrates the passion, commitment, and ingenuity of a surprisingly broad range of those who are making a difference in the world.

I asked Geoff to weigh in on this blog with his perspective on the 2018 list and what it means. Leadership is a subject Geoff’s covered extensively for Fortune, so he was the perfect choice to come up with the unique approach that has characterized this unique list.  If you enjoy his commentary you can also click here to get a free chapter from his bestselling book, Talent is Overrated.   --Tony D’Amelio

What are the best leaders doing right now to disrupt their business?
Book GEOFF COLVIN for your next event and find out. 




by Geoff Colvin, Senior Editor-at-Large, Fortune


The greatest leaders have always influenced followers through inspiration, not through fear or money – but for ages, poor leaders have been able to escape that reality. What’s new, and the loudest message from Fortune’s latest ranking of the World’s Greatest Leaders is that poor leaders can’t get away with it anymore. They either inspire or they fail.

The reason is that in a digital world, followers can change their allegiances more easily than ever. Corporate employees know at every moment which other jobs are open where, how much they pay, and what working conditions are like. Those workers can move more easily than ever to another employer or, as contractors in the gig economy, to many employers worldwide. But they’ll work their hearts out at your company if leaders – such as Merck’s Ken Frazier, General Motors’ Mary Barra, and BlackRock’s Larry Fink, all on the list – inspire them and make them proud.

No person or enterprise can escape this growing reality of leadership. Our new ranking includes not just business leaders but also government leaders, teachers, students, a college football coach, a U.S. Marine four-star general, and many more. All of them lead followers who are choosing from more options than ever, and who increasingly are followers out of choice, not necessity.

Many leaders on this new list hold no formal authority at all. Indira Jaising, for example, runs a small Indian NGO called Lawyers Collective, which promotes human rights issues. It punches far above its weight because the Internet lets it communicate its inspiring mission widely at low cost and enables volunteers to pitch in from around the world. She leads an influential global organization with only a tiny staff.

The larger lesson is never to mistake authority for leadership. What would happen at your organization if it were suddenly run like W.L. Gore, maker of Gore-Tex fabric and a wide range of industrial products? Virtually no one has a title. I once asked an employee how you know if you’re a leader. That’s easy, he said; call a meeting and see if anybody comes. If your organization’s leaders had no titles, how many people would come to their meetings?

All leadership is earned. That has always been true. What’s so important in today’s environment is that it’s truer than ever, and getting truer every day.


1. The Students Marjory Stoneman Douglas and other schools
2. Bill and Melinda Gates Co-founders, Gates Foundation
3. The #MeToo Movement
4. Moon Jae-in President, South Korea
5. Kenneth Frazier CEO, Merck
6. Scott Gottlieb FDA commissioner
7. Margarethe Vestager Commissioner for Competition, European Union
8. Larry Fink CEO, BlackRock
9. General Joseph Dunford Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
10. Liu He Vice Premier, China


11. Mary Barra CEO, General Motors
12. Nick Saban Football coach, University of Alabama
13. Emmanuel Macron President, France
14. Tim Cook CEO, Apple
15. Serena Williams Athlete
16. Isabelle Kocher CEO, Engie
17. Katie Bethell Executive director, PL+US
18. Ryan Coogler Film director
19. Huateng “Pony” Ma CEO, Tencent
20. Indira Jaising Founder, Lawyers Collective


21. Marc Benioff CEO, Salesforce
22. The Gymnasts and Their Allies
23. Kathleen McLaughlin Chief sustainability officer, Walmart
24. Mukesh Ambani Chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries
25. Mick Cornett Former mayor, Oklahoma City
26. Donald Hopkins Physician, the Carter Center
27. Oprah Winfrey CEO, OWN
28. Mitch Landrieu Mayor, New Orleans
29. Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister, New Zealand
30. Ma Jun Environmentalist, China


31. West Virginia Teachers
32. Leymah Gbowee President, Gbowee Peace Foundation
33. Jamie Dimon CEO, JPMorgan Chase
34. Michael Sorrell President, Paul Quinn College
35. Reese Witherspoon Actor/producer
36. Daniel Servitje Montull CEO, Grupo Bimbo
37. Izumi Nakamitsu Undersecretary general for disarmament, United Nations
38. Bashar Masri Founder, Rawabi
39. Leila de Lima Senator, Philippines
40. Angela Nyambura Gichaga CEO, Financing Alliance for Health


41. Timothy Keller Evangelical minister/author, Redeemer City to City
42. Gwynne Shotwell President and chief operating officer, SpaceX
43. Balkrishna Doshi Architect, India
44. Feike Sijbesma CEO, DSM
45. Kelly Chibale Scientist, South Africa
46. Ana Botín Group executive 
chairman, Banco Santander
47. Dina Meza Journalist, PEN Honduras
48. Ridwan Kamil Mayor, Bandung, Indonesia
49. Amy Gutmann President, University of Pennsylvania
50. Ed Bastian CEO, Delta Air Lines


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About Tony D'Amelio

Tony has spent his career putting talented people and audiences together, first in the music business and later representing the world's leading speakers. After concluding 27 years as Executive Vice President of the Washington Speakers Bureau, Tony launched D'Amelio Network, a boutique firm that manages the speaking activities of a select group of experts on business, management, politics and current events. Clients include: Mike Abrashoff, Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour, Geoff Colvin, Daryl Davis, Suneel Gupta, Ron Insana, Katty Kay, Polly LaBarre, Nicole Malachowski, Bill Walton, and Bob Woodward.

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