It’s this time of the year again. The Independent and other media publish their Top50 of Powerful people.
The Independent notes:
True power is a potent combination of money and influence that enables people to help shape the world
I have my doubts about this list, and the underlying definition of true power. This Top50 is filled with “heads of state, billionaires, CEOs, and entertainers”. Beyoncé comes it at nr 50. Heads of state (like nr 1 Mr Obama) exert a lot of political power, and billionaires like Mr Carlos Slim & Mr Warren Buffet have many large investments to play with. True, tech CEO’s like Mr Zuckerberg, Mr Brin, etc. have changed the world with their new techology.
But what really bothers me, is this:
“For better or worse, these people’s decisions affect millions”.
Indeed: for better, or for worse. When The Independent and their collegues create a ranking of influencial people, wouldn’t it make sense to focus on the “for better” part of these influencers, and to throw out the “for worse”?
Using your power & influence for worse should result automatically into a red card in the Top50 ranking game, no?
This Top50 has influenced the world as we know it today. But are these Top50 the leaders that are capable and willing to build the world as we want to know it tomorrow?
In their Top50 article, we read about casino magnates. And about CEO’s that have been reported to abuse their employees. About CEO’s of Oil companies who “came under investigation after reports suggested they had for decades lied to the public about climate-change data”. About Heads of state who seem to enjoy starting new wars for the wrong political reasons, etc.
When we look at major challenges ahead of us, e.g. obesitas, whom of this Top50 are the key players that are creating long-term solutions for this threat to our current generation, and new generations to come? Who is using his or her influence to get this major trend/problem solved? To fix the broken and unsustainable system of our current, unhealthy food production?
We then end up with the topic of leadership: excellent leaders take people where they don’t want to go, but ought to be.
Too many young people start smoking, even today. Whom of the selected heads of state is willing to use all of his or her power and influence to stop this, with effective measures, or even a complete ban on tobacco? When politicians have made attempts, it’s clear that the Independant is not too impressed with this dimension of their story, e.g. about Mr Bloomberg’s public policy track record:
Bloomberg has had less luck asserting his vision over public policy. Though he effectively instituted a smoking ban in New York City, his efforts to eradicate big sodas fizzled out in the courts last year. He has pledged $50 million to combat the NRA, though little progress has been made on gun control thus far.
In this respect, nr 4 Ms Merkel, made the case that yes, we can fix the (difficult, challenging) refugee problem if we really want this, against the odds (and against right-wing populism) that in the wake of terror threats we’d better close our borders today instead of tomorrow.
So, perhaps we should turn this whole Top50 business upside down? First define what are the main challenges for our society, on a global scale (e.g. “21st Century Challlenges“)? And only then select the Top50 of our smartest, most capable men and women who have the intelligence, the imagination, the mindset, the capabilities, the leadership skills, etc. to change things “for better” (and who may still need a billion here and there, to get their challenge fixed)?
I would be happy to promote such a Top50 of influencial people!