Our world has seen some great leaders over time, leaders who have changed the course of history and molded the world that we live in today. These great leaders of the world span centuries, from the B.C. years to the 21st century, history is filled with impactful people.
Here are the great leaders of the world that have changed millions of lives, and hopefully will inspire others to do the same.
1. Martin Luther King Jr
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
Known for his involvement in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the greatest leaders and human rights activists. His work toward abolishing segregation and racism in the United States will never be forgotten.
He was also elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and created monumental change through it.
2. Mahatma Gandhi
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind”
Mahatma Gandhi was an Indian lawyer, ethicist, and anti-colonial nationalist. He played one of the most important roles in the fight for Indian independence from the British. His message of non-violence created a new way for activism and inspired civil rights movements worldwide.
He was a great leader for both India and the entire world.
3. Nelson Mandela
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
The South African president and civil rights activist fought for equal rights for races. He was the first black head of state for the country and fought for its citizens to receive the equality that they deserved. This great leader of the world is still celebrated today.
4. Winston Churchill
“Never, never, never give up”
As the former Prime Minister of the UK, Churchill is known for leading Britain during World War II and doing it successfully. He never gave up, even when things got tough, inspiring thousands to do the same. Without him, our world’s history would be very different.
5. Abraham Lincoln
“Whatever you are, be a good one”
The 16th United States President Abraham Lincoln is famous for his involvement in the abolishment of slavery, his role in the American Civil War, and the change he made for the nation. Fun fact, he is one of the four U.S presidents to have been assassinated.
6. Mother Teresa
“If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one”
This great leader of the world is known for her work in the slums of Calcutta, dedicating her life to caring for and improving the lives of hundreds. She focused on helping the worse off, including orphans or terminal patients, and changed so many lives.
7. Napoleon Bonaparte
“A leader is a dealer in hope”
After his rise to power during the French Revolution, Napoleon was a French military leader who played a prominent role in conquering 19th century Europe. He led many campaigns and rallies during the revolution and led the country to victory on the battlefield on countless occasions.
8. George Washington
“99% of failures come from people who make excuses”
George Washington was the first president of the United States, as well as the commander of the Continental Army at the time of the Revolutionary War in the late 1700s. His fame came from his victories against the British. His leadership kept many Americans alive and impacted many more, as one of the great leaders of the world.
9. Dalai Lama
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy”
As the head monk in Tibetan Buddhism, The Dalai Lama is known as the “highest spiritual leader of Tibet”. His life was spent helping and improving lives as a great leader of the world and made his mark on so many people.
10. Julius Caesar
“Experience is the teacher of all things”
The esteemed Roman politician and general is known for his journey to the throne, becoming dictator of the Roman Empire in 44 B.C. His power was what made him a great leader of the world, but was also the reason for his assassination. His genius lives through history and is still remembered centuries later.
11. Franklin D Roosevelt
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
Franklin D Roosevelt or FDR was one of the most influential presidents of the United States. His focus on the countries economy, such as increasing employment and attempting to improve the lives of the poor, is why he is known as a great leader of the world, and created a long-lasting impact on many citizens.
“No society can prosper if it aims at making things easier-instead it should aim at making people stronger”
The Mauryan dynasty's third ruler was Ashoka. The death of his father began a succession war between Ashoka and his brothers, with Ashoka emerging triumphant after many years. He was, and still is, known as a fierce and impactful ruler, and is a great leader of the world.
13. Alexander, The Great
“There is nothing impossible to him who will try”
Building an empire that spanned over countries, from Macedonia to India, his skill made him one of the most famous military generals and great leaders of the world. His empire even facilitated the expansion of Hellenistic civilization.
14. Maharaja Ranjit Singh
“The children of the mountains are too free and independent to bear with any patience the restraints of civilization”
Ranjit Singh was the first leader of the Sikh Empire. His struggles made him a great leader of the world and created an impact on the Indian subcontinent that has never been forgotten.
15. Bill Gates
“Often you have to rely on intuition”
Bill Gates III is a business entrepreneur, computer programmer, investor, writer, and humanitarian, most famous for co-founding the Microsoft Corporation. He’s one of the richest people in the world, his success bringing him power and control similar to a great leader of the world, which is why he’s on this list!
16. Frederick Barbarossa
“It is not for the people to give laws to the prince, but to obey his mandate”
From 1152 until 1190, Frederick I was the Holy Roman Emperor. He was one of medieval Germany's most powerful rulers and a great leader of the world, as his strong reign set numerous precedents for future growth.
17. Salah Al-Din
“It is not the custom of kings to kill kings”
Salah al-Din Al-Nasir Salah ad-Din or Saladin was a Sunni Muslim Kurd. He founded the Ayyubid empire and was the first ruler of both Egypt and Syria. Saladin commanded the Muslim military war in the Levant against Crusader kingdoms.
“I will not be triumphed over”
Known for her impact on Roman politics and as the last active leader of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Cleopatra. Through her rule, she improved the economy of the area, created new trade routes with other nations, and enhances Egyptian culture.
19. Jacinda Ardern
“I want to be a good leader and not a good lady leader”
Currently serving as the 40th prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern is known for being the youngest female head of government in the world, elected at age 37. She’s been a significant figure in the Labour Party and the Parliament.
She’s known for being progressive and making positive social change, as one of the great leaders of the world.
20. Fidel Castro
“A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past”
The Cuban leader of the revolution and politician was one of the most influential figures in the Cuban Revolution. During this time, he led the dismantling of Fulgencio Batista’s government and taking over as prime minister.
21. Albert Einstein
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”
As a theoretical great leader of the world, Albert Einstein made monumental contributions to our understanding of time, space, and gravity. His theory of relativity is what brought him to fame, and allows him to be one of the most prominent physicists in history. This great leader of the world cannot be forgotten.
22. Constantine, The Great
“Thinking is the great enemy of perfection”
Reigning over the Roman empire, Constantine I is known for making the world’s most powerful city, Constantinople. As a great leader of the world, he managed to conquer many neighboring countries to expand the empire.
Additionally, he transferred Rome into a catholic empire, ending the persecution of Christianity in the area.
23. John F. Kennedy
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”
As the introducer of “a new generation of Americans”, his optimist and charisma led him to be a great leader of the world. His presidency ended when he was assassinated, however, he was able to achieve numerous things during his time, including the U.S. space program and his leadership during the missile crisis.
“Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever has not kindness has not faith”
Founder of Islam and Prophet Muhammad was one of the great leaders of the world. His religious and social mindset, along with the teachings of many prophets before him, helped him create the religion and unify Arabia.
25. Queen Victoria
“We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist”
Her 63-year reign over Great Britain and Ireland introduced numerous improvements to industry, education, and poverty. She is known for her expansions and advances, as well as the abolishment of slavery. Her rule has inspired many monarchs after her and was a symbol of power and greatness for thousands.
26. Genghis Khan
“If you're afraid, don't do it. If you're doing it, don't be afraid!”
Founder and leader of the Mongol Empire, Genghis Khan is noted for creating the largest empire in history. He conquered land across Asia, expanding trade and religious laws, and defeating empires that dared to challenge him. He was a great leader of the world and is remembered to be one even now.
“Quality is not an act, it is a habit”
As one of history’s greatest philosophers and the first scientist, Aristotle was one of the most significant figures in our world. His contributions to philosophy and science have inspired many after him, and impacted so many lives.
He also founded the Aristotelian tradition and the Lyceum and made discoveries and connections used in science for many centuries.
28. Frederick William
“Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning”
Transforming Prussia into one of the most structured and booming states, Frederick William is known as a “Soldier King” for the country. His military and political accomplishments are what made him such a great leader of the world.
29. Catherine the Great
“A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache”
As the longest female leader of Russia, Catherine the Great was one of the most impactful leaders in history. After overthrowing her husband and taking control, she introduced many contributions to the arts and law in the country and expanded their territory significantly.
She’s remembered fondly today as a great leader of the world.
30. Ernesto "Che" Guevara
“Let the world change you and you can change the world”
Alongside Fidel Castro, Che Guevara is remembered as the “purest part of the Cuban Revolution”, a symbol of hope and innovation. His image has become a pervasive emblem of defiance and worldwide insignia and was an inspiration to many.
31. Amilcar Cabral
“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories”
As one of Africa’s most prominent and primary leaders, the great architect, writer, politician, and patriot played an important role in the nationalist movement of Guinea-Bissau, helping them fight for independence.
32. Margaret Thatcher
“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it”
Margaret Thatcher was the first female and the longest-serving British prime minister of the twentieth century. Known as the “Iron Lady” by her opposers, she was a symbol of strong leadership and power. She was a great leader of the world.
33. Desmond Tutu
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together”
The receiver of the Nobel Peace Prize, Desmond Tutu is a human rights activist and theologist that’s still alive today! His work toward improving the rights of African Americans and the LGBTQ community has been monumental, and the reason that he is a great leader of the world.
34. Barack Obama
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”
Obama was the very first African-American president of the United States. Before entering politics in 1997, Obama served as a community activist, lawyer, and professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.
A substantial stimulus program, partially extending the Bush tax cuts, a healthcare reform bill, huge financial reform measures, and the termination of a major US military involvement in Iraq was among Obama's first-term achievements.
35. Elizabeth I of England
“If thy heart fails thee, climb not at all”
Last but certainly not least we have Elizabeth, Queen of England and Ireland for 45 years. She vanquished the Spanish Armada in 1588, kept stability in her once-divided kingdom, introduced Protestantism in England, and fostered a climate suitable to the arts throughout her reign.
These people have changed the world we live in today, for better or for worse. We wouldn’t be the same without them, and they have inspired thousands of future great leaders of the world. Comment below which one of these great leaders you like the best!
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