1- 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.
2- Alan Mulally
Ford’s (f, +3.12%) miracle worker saved the company without resorting to bankruptcy or bailouts by doing what previous leaders had tried and failed to do: change Ford’s risk-averse, reality-denying, CYA-based culture. After earning $7.2 billion of profit — far more than General Motors (gm, +1.27%) or Chrysler — the company paid its 47,000 UAW workers a record $8,800 each in profit sharing.
3- Warren Buffett
While lauded as an investor, Buffett also leads 300,000 employees with a values-based, hands-off style that gives managers wide leeway and incentivizes them like owners. The result is America’s fifth-most-valuable company (BRKA). His influence extends much further than that, though: The world looks to the “Oracle of Omaha” for guidance on investing, the economy, taxes, management, philanthropy, and more.