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What the World’s Greatest Leaders Prioritize

Takeaways from Fortune’s annual list.

Image courtesy of Arturo Pardavila III via Flickr

Some people might say Theo Epstein is a great leader because he did the (seemingly) impossible: Under his guidance as President of Baseball Operations, the Chicago Cubs actually won the World Series last year. But according to Fortune’s just-released rankings of the World’s Greatest Leaders, it’s Epstein’s ability to assess his players own leadership skills (among other strong suits) that helped him take both the top spot on this year’s list and baseball’s biggest title.

As Fortune writes, “In his book The Cubs Way, Sports Illustrated senior baseball writer Tom Verducci describes that evolution, showing how a deeper understanding of important human qualities among his players — the character, discipline and chemistry that turn skilled athletes into leaders — enabled Epstein to engineer one of the most remarkable turnarounds in sports.” In an age where sports — and business — are so reliant on and driven by data, it’s refreshing to see someone in charge who understands that employees are people first, and how developing their skills can help a business (of any kind) perform better.

Pope Francis made the list as well, coming in at number three. Fortune shared this quote from Arianna Huffington about Francis’s inspiring message: “I’m in awe of the way Pope Francis has used his powerful role to spread a message of unconditional love, forgiveness, humanity, and humility.” We’re also firmly on board with his belief that the more time we spend attached to our smartphones, the more our actual in-person relationships suffer.

The four and five spots were also filled by two people who understand the importance of disconnecting with devices and prioritizing their own wellness. Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which distributed nearly $37 billion in grants in 2015) and number four on the list, told Thrive last fall that meditation is her morning constant, saying “No matter where I am in the world, that one’s pretty non-negotiable. Investing even a few minutes in meditation makes the whole day happier and more productive.”

For his part, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos (whose company was responsible for 43 percent of online U.S. sales last year, according to Fortune), takes sleep seriously. He’s shared with Thrive that “Eight hours of sleep makes a big difference for me, and I try hard to make that a priority. For me, that’s the needed amount to feel energized and excited.”

When leaders take care of themselves and their staffs, the effect trickles down, improving everyone’s performance and personal well-being. If more bosses took these healthy approaches to personal wellness and recognizing employee potential, we’d all benefit.

Read Fortune’s full list here.

Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com

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