Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Subjectivity of Fortune's Leadership List

(image credit)
Such a list is, by definition, subjective. (The magazine says it limited its list to currently active leaders; it asked leadership experts and Fortune reporters to suggest candidates and then vetted the ideas with people in each industry.) Any ranking of something as abstract as leadership -- particularly one that crosses industries -- is hardly something that can be judged by hard numbers or strict data, and is bound to generate plenty of debate. Indeed, that's probably the point.
Reference: Fortune Magazine names the world's 50 best leaders.

And that point isn't just to relate the points of view of these experts and reporters, but also to draw out our own points of view, and our gut or measured reactions, on leadership via Fortune magazine's The World's 50 Greatest Leaders.  Moreover, while I don't agree with Jena McGregor, who wrote the article above for The Washington Post, on one point - Hard numbers and strict data can define, substantiate and rank leadership - I am very much coming to appreciate the value of subjectivity vis-a-vis leadership.

Much as we may laud, even idolize, the scientist, the analyst, or the logician, the fact is that a good measure of who we are as people is intuitive, non-rational, and subjective.  The scientific endeavor can illuminate, and has certainly illuminated, our world to us and us to ourselves.  But that is only a partial understanding, and to the extent it holds so steadfastly as the paradigm of knowledge - it simply is not - the scientific endeavor is merely a limited understanding.

This Fortune list, apparently systematic if not free of subjectivity, complements well a more analytically-derived ranking.  It offers us a pulse on what some people think - that is, those experts and reporters - and again it prompts us to share in turn what we think.  My articles this week capture what I think and how I feel.

I love this list, because it is curious and controversial.  I love this list, because it presents a much wider array of leaders, whom I may not otherwise know about in other leadership ranking.  I love this list, because it dares to install a pontiff at the top and a woman - Angela Merkel - at number two.

leadership 2014 angela merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Merkel may be the most successful national leader in the world today. She is, practically speaking, the leader of the European Union, which as a whole is the world's largest economy, and Merkel has held that position for almost nine years. She played the lead role in managing Europe's debt crisis, keeping the EU intact while setting even Greece on the road to recovery.
Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

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