CHICAGO (CBS) — Move over, Pope Francis. Take a seat Melinda Gates and Jeff Bezos. Cubs president Theo Epstein is the greatest leader in the world, according to Fortune Magazine.
Ending the Cubs’ 108-year championship drought only 12 years after helping lead the Boston Red Sox to their first title in 86 years earned Epstein the top spot on Fortune’s list of World’s Greatest Leaders in 2017.
“The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox,” Fortune wrote of Epstein.
Fortune magazine assistant managing editor Leigh Gallagher said one of the amazing things about the Cubs’ turnaround after Epstein was hired to run the team in 2011 was his focus on player character.
“This is really the result of a five-year turnaround plan that Theo Epstein put in place, and what’s so fascinating about it is his remarkably contrarian thing was to focus on character,” she said. “So he basically told all his scouts ‘I want you to go find people, go find three examples on the field and off the field of how these people handled adversity,’ and if the scouts weren’t into that, he let them go.”
Epstein’s top spot on Fortune’s list of the world’s best leaders put him above the likes of Pope Francis, Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (who topped last year’s list), National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Another rising star in Chicago also made Fortune’s list of the world’s 50 greatest leaders. Grammy winner Chance The Rapper took the No. 46 spot.
Fortune noted Chance not only has defied music industry stereotypes by releasing all his music in a streaming-only format and shunned album sales and record deals, but he has become “a political force.”
“Chance is also a political force as an anti-violence campaigner in his hometown of Chicago, and he may only be getting started. His latest salvo: A $1 million donation to Chicago Public Schools, after he called Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to task for what Chance called Rauner’s neglect of educational funding. The cash will go towards arts and after-school programming —and even set off a chain reaction, with Seattle Seahawk Michael Bennett inspired to donate his endorsement money to worthy causes,” Fortune wrote.