Some people are born leaders, some are made leaders. Ever since the beginning of time, leaders come from different nationalities. Many affect their own locality, others change the course of history and affect the whole world.
| Jesus Christ (2 BC – 30/33 AD)
Famous For: Crucifixion & Resurrection
Jesus Christ is the main figure of the Christian religion. Without Jesus Christ, there would be no forgiveness of sin, there would be no Christianity. According to the religion he is the prophesied Messiah of the Jews, the Son of God, and taught his disciples to love one another. He reminded people of his day about the love of God.
| Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Famous For: Leading the United States as 16th president through the Civil War
As 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln had to lead the nation through tumultuous times, through a divided nation, resulting in a Civil War. He understood the ills of slavery, his intellectual leadership was recognized early in the Republican party. This quality he had resulted in the signing of the “Emancipation Proclamation,” the commencement of Reconstruction, and his famous Gettysburg Address.
| Nelson Mandela (1918)
Nationality: South African
Famous For: First Black President of South Africa
Former South African President Nelson Mandela was leader in who fought against apartheid. He also served as president of the ANC (African National Congress) and secretary of “General of the Non-Aligned Movement.” His participation in politics resulted in the elections in 1994, which was for the first time since 1948, multi-racial. He and former president F.W. de Klerk received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993.
| Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)
Famous For: Establishment of Nazi Germany
Autocrat, best describes the leadership style of one Adolf Hitler. He demanded obedience from his subordinates, unswerving loyalty. Because of this quality, Hitler’s signature was on the establishment of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and the beginning of World War II.
| George Washington (1732-1799)
Famous For: First President of the United States of America
Leadership qualities are evident early in life, George Washington exhibited that as a young man. He was a “Colonel with the Virginia regiment” and received military and political skills while serving, which would contribute to his role as leader of the Untied States, to which he has been dubbed as the “Father of his country.” Along with these qualities, he became commander in chief of the Continental army and one of the founding fathers of the new nation at that time, the United States of America.
| Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
Famous For: Civil Rights Leader
As a leader in the Civil Rights and Peace Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. received the 1964 Nobel Prize for Peace. He led the practice of non-violent means in his push against racial inequality in America. He is one of the founders of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference),
| Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
Famous For: Independence for India through Non-Violent means of Civil Disobedience
His name means venerable or high souled, he is even known as “Bapa” or father in India, Mahatma Gandhi used non-violent civil disobedience to lead India to freedom against the British. This resulted in India receiving independence from colonial rule from Great Britain in 1947. He was worldwide leader that inspired freedom through civil disobedience.
| Malcolm X (1925-1965)
Famous For: Black Human Rights Activist
Malcolm Little, or El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz, or Malcolm X, was a leader in human rights activism. He was an advocate of racial equality and led the Black activism movement during the 1960s. He has been credited in reminding black Americans of “their African heritage” and raising their self esteem.
| Buddha (c. 563 BC-483 BC)
Famous For: Founder of Buddhism
The “awakened or enlightened one,” this is the meaning of Buddha. The man, Siddhartha Gautama, was a mystic or sage who is credited with teaching what is known as Buddhism. He taught the practice of emptying one’s existence and ascetism. He is considered the “Supreme Buddha.”
| Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Famous For: Marxism and Communism
The man who is responsible for the Communist movement, Karl Marx led the belief that class (labor) struggle was necessary for a healthy economy. He wrote The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital. His was antagonist against capitalism which he labeled as “the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”.
| Fidel Castro (1926)
Famous For: Cuban Revolutionary & Bay of Pigs incident
One of the stoutest communist leaders, Fidel Castro led the 26th of July Movement in which he overthrew Cuban President Batista in 1959. Ever since that time, he has been the recognized head of Cuba, he has been an adherent of Marxist-Leninist practices. He is seen as a leader in environmentalism, anti-imperialism, humanitarianism, and socialism.
| Socrates (c. 469-399 BC)
Famous For: Founder of Western Philosophy
Socrates founded Western Philosophy. He challenged the mind of his students to live a simple life. Most importantly, Socrates’ main contribution was in the area of ethics and the concepts of what is known as the Socratic method.
| Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
Famous For: Prime Minister of Great Britain in World War II
He is one of the 20th century’s greatest “wartime leaders”, Winston Churchill served as the Prime Minister of Great Britain a good part of World War 2. He again served as Prime Minister from 1951-1955. He used his political savvy to lead Great Britain through the war years, he also received a Nobel Prize in literature.
| Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)
Famous For: Being the 40th President of the USA & Reaganomics
As the 40th President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan led the nation through an inflation. His skills as a leader became apparent that the way he handled the American economy became known as “Reaganomics.” As a two term President, Reagan’s leadership became evident in the “War against drugs, immigration, and instrumental in ending the Cold War.
| Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)
Famous For: King of Macedonia
As one of history’s greatest commanders, Alexander the Great established one of the ancient world’s largest empires. When he was thirty years old, his empire included portions of the Adriatic Sea all the way to the Indus River. He conquered all of the Persian Empire. Twenty cities are named after this Greek Commander, most notably Alexandria, Egypt. He became recognized as the King of Macedonia, Persia, and Asia, in addition to being regarded as Pharaoh of Egypt.
| Julius Caesar (100-44 BC)
Famous For: Dictator in Perpetuity
Roman author, consul, statesman, and general, Julius Caesar led and built the Roman empire and crowned Emperor in 49 BC. Among his victories as general, his success include the Gallic Wars in which he proved victorious against the Gaul’s, Britain, and Germany. He instrumental in implementing government and social reforms in addition to centralizing Roman bureaucracy.
| Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Famous For: Ninety-Five Theses & Protestant Reformation
Theologian, priest, monk, or professor, whatever title one may infer on Martin Luther, he is the man who was a church leader during the Protestant Reformation. In 1517, he wrote his “Ninety-Five Theses” refuting that salvation cannot be purchased or be earned by works, but simply through the grace of God, following the Apostle Paul’s writing in the book of Romans.
| Napoleon Bonaparte (1759-1821)
Famous For: Napoleonic Code
French political and military leader Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself Emperor in 1804, a title he held until 1815. He even declared himself king of Italy from 1805-1814. His leadership legacy includes the woes of Napoleonic Wars and the post French Revolution saga. He has been viewed as a tyrant in his excessive use of power.
| Angela Merkel (1954)
Famous For: First woman Chancellor of Germany
The first woman Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel has been a leader not just in Germany but in Europe. She has held several positions which is a testament to her abilities as a leader, these include: President of European Council and Secretary General of the CDU, to name a few of the titles she has held.
| Genghis Khan (1162-1227)
Famous For: Founder of Great Mongol Empire
Genghis Khan is the viewed as the greatest general who ever lived. He led the Mongol Empire that spread across Asia, including China, the Middle East, and parts of Europe. His leadership was not just by military conquest, but also through lawful and political means.
| Queen Victoria (1819-1901)
Famous For: Victorian Era
Queen Victoria’s reign in the United Kingdom lasted for nearly 64 years from 1837 to 1901. In 1876, she added the Empress of India as one of her many titles. She led the kingdom through cultural, industrial, military, political, and scientific changes which benefitted the British Empire, this has been known as the Victorian Era.
| Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)
Famous For: Thatcherism & Iron Lady
The “Iron Lady” was how Baroness Margaret Thatcher was viewed during her service as Prime Minister of the UK, the first woman to do so. She held the office from 1979 to 1990 and led Britain through the economic and international challenges in the 1980s As a politician, she was leader of the opposition and the conservative party as a member of Parliament.
| Joseph Stalin (1878-1953)
Famous For: General Secretary of the Soviet Union
Joseph Stalin was the “de facto leader of the Soviet Union” beginning in 1922 until his death in 1953. Stalin participated during the 1917 Russian Revolution and once the Bolsheviks took over, he managed to consolidate his power in the Communist Party. He also led the Soviet Union during World War II in which the Russians joined the Allied forces of the USA and Great Britain. Unfortunately, Stalin has been held responsible for millions of deaths, ranging between 3 to 6 million.
| Indira Gandhi
Famous For: Prime Minister of India
As the first woman to be Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi became the South Asian nations third. At first she served as Chief of Staff for her father Jawaharlal Nehru, then elected Congress president, and two terms as prime minister. “Woman of the Millennium” and India’s greatest Prime Minister are accolades that have been given to Indira.
| Pope Francis (1936)
Famous For: 266th Pope of the Catholic Church
As leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, Jose Mario Bergoglio, became the 266th pope on March of 2013. He is the first Jesuit pope and the first to come from the Southern Hemisphere.
| Barack Obama (1961)
Famous For: Obamacare
Some of US President Barack Obama’s opponents view him as leading from behind. He successfully won a second term and is in the verge of leading America into unified healthcare popularly known as “Obamacare.”
| John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
Famous For: 35th United States President
As 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy had many events that tested his leadership, in which many historians consider as a productive administration. The events include the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Space Race, the Civil Rights movement, and the construction of the Berlin Wall. He was also involved in the beginning stages of the Vietnam War.
| Constantine the Great (c. 272-337)
Famous For: Christian Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor Constantine I united east and west of the empire in 324 AD. As leader of the Roman empire, he successfully implemented reforms that proved effective in running the empire. It was during his time that administrative, social, military, and financial corrections took place. He is popularly known as the first Roman Emperor who was a Christian.
| Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
Famous For: The Virgin Queen
As Queen of England and Ireland during the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I, she never married and was viewed as an indecisive leader. William Cecil and Baron Burghley were among her trusted advisers. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Church of England. During her reign, she helped stabilize the kingdom.
| Moses (1391–1271 BC)
Famous For: Receiving the 10 Commandments from God
According to Judeochristian ideology, Moses was used by God to persuade the Egyptian Pharaoh to free the Israelites, through miraculous signs and wonders. Moses was of the Levitical or priestly tribe and was a lawgiver and a prophet. God gave Moses the ten commandments. He led the Israelites out of bondage from Egypt which is recorded in the book of Exodus. The authorship of the Torah, the first five books of the bible, have been attributed to Moses.
| Charlemagne (742-814)
Famous For: Father of Europe
In the 9th century, Charlemagne for the first time united western Europe since the Roman empire. He was king of the Lombard’s and the Franks. He has been called the “Father of Europe” because of the intellectual and cultural activity that took place during his reign.
| Saladin (1138-1193)
Famous For: Sultan of Syria & Egypt
Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, Sultan of Syria and Egypt, he is better known as Saladin. He was the Muslim leader who opposed Crusaders in ancient Syria. His authority, or sultanate, covered parts of North Africa, Egypt, Hejaz (western portion of Saudi Arabia), Mesopotamia, Syria, and Yemen. In the Battle of Hattin (near present day Israel), Saladin and his army defeated the Crusaders, he either captured or killed them.
| Joan of Arc (c. 1412-1431)
Famous For: Maid of Orleans
During the hundred years war, Joan of Arc was one of France’s leaders who led the army to several victories against the British. She claimed to have received divine revelations from God related to regaining France back from the British. She is a heroine in France and was burned at the stake when she was just nineteen years old. Joan of Arc later was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church as a saint.
| Cleopatra VII (51-30 BC)
Famous For: Queen of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt’s last pharoah was a woman, Cleopatra VII. She came from Greek origins as part of the Ptolemaic dynasty who ruled Egypt at that time. As queen of Egypt from 51 to 30 BC, she faced challenges that included famine, floods, harsh economic conditions, and political hostility. Cleopatra later ruled by establishing an alliance with Julius Caesar.
| Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969)
Famous For: Chairman of Communist Party of Vietnam
A communist and revolutionary leader in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh would become President and Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In 1941, he led an independence movement against the French, whom they defeated at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
| Attila the Hun (406-453)
Famous For: The Scourge of God
At the mention of “savage” warriors, the name of Atilla the Hun comes to mind. Leader of the Huns (early Eurasian nomads), or Hunnic empire, Atilla’s conquests reached from the Caspian Sea to the Rhine River and from the Baltic Sea to the Danube River. He was feared by the Eastern and Western Roman empire for his tactics, though he was not successful in capturing Constantinopole. He also tried to conquer France (Roman Gaul) but was defeated early at the “Battle of the Catalaunian Plains.”
| William the Conqueror (c. 1028-1087)
Famous For: First Norman King of England
Coming from a line of Viking raiders, William I, also known as William the Bastard, and more notably William the Conqueror, began his political career as the Duke of Normandy. In 1066, William became King of England. To secure the country, he built castles, mottes, and keeps, this includes the building of the Tower of London.
| Muhammad (c. 570-632)
Famous For: Founder of Islam
Muhammad is the founder of the Islam religion. He began as a shepherd and later claimed to have a revelation from “Allah”. He proclaimed himself a prophet of Allah, but he was also a political, military, and of course religious leader. Muhammad taught his followers about the revelations given to him, he also united Arabic tribes under the teachings of Islam.
| Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
Famous For: First Lady of the World
First Lady of the World is how Harry Truman described Eleanor Roosevelt. She was in that role for twelve years in which she set the standard for future first ladies to follow. She was active as an advocate for the people, she raised awareness on the civil rights of Asian and Black Americans, World War II refugees, and she pushed to increase the role of women in the work place. After President Roosevelt’s death, she continued to be visible politically. Eleanor was the representative of the USA to the United Nations commission on Human Rights, and later became its chairman.
| Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970)
Famous For: Organizer of French Resistance in WW II
A statesman and general in France, Charles de Gaulle served in World War I and II. As the senior French officer, he refused to sign a surrender to Nazi Germany. He organized the Free French Forces that became known as the French resistance against Nazi Germany. He also became Prime Minister and President of France.
| Aung San Suu Kyi (1945)
Famous For: Political Prisoner in Myanmar (Burma)
Before Burma’s general elections in 1990, Aung San Suu Kyi was already under house arrest. She was chairperson and leader of the National League for Democracy who won nearly 60 percent of the votes and gaining more than 80 percent of the parliament seats. This has made her a distinguished political prisoner for fifteen years under house arrest. Currently, she is a member of the house of representatives, Pyithu Hluttaw, and still the leader of the opposition, NLD.
| Cyrus the Great (576-530)
Famous For: Founder of the First Persian Empire
He is best known as the Cyrus the Great, in addition to that his majestic titles include King of Persia, of Media, of Babylon, and of the Four Corners of the World, to name a few. His accomplishments have influenced western civilization in the areas of military strategy, politics, and human rights. In Persia (modern day Iran) he was known as the “Father”, in Babylon (Iraq) the “Liberator”. His name is mentioned in the Bible 23 times.
| Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658)
Famous For: Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland
A controversial English man, Oliver Cromwell has been described as a zealot. He was given the title “Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland”. He was several times a member of the British Parliament. He played an important role in the “Irish Confederate Wars”,and the creation of the “New Model Army” of England.
| Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)
Famous For: Commander of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War
A graduate of West Point (US Military Academy), Robert E. Lee received command of the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He excelled as a combat engineer and officer. He served during the Mexican-American War in 1847 and from 1852 to 1855 was Superintendent of the Military Academy. At the end of the Civil War, he surrendered to Union Army General Ulysses Grant at the Appomattox courthouse.
| Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)
Famous For: Blessed John Paul and John Paul the Great
From 1978 to 2005, the Roman Catholic Church had one leader, Pope John Paul II, Karol Jozef Wojtyla. He was one of the influential leaders of his time. He helped end communist rule in his native Poland, he was instrumental in improving relations with other religions, Judaism, Islam, Anglicans, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. He gave a universal call to holiness. During his tenure as pope, he canonised 483 saints and beatified 1340 people.
King Henry VIII (1491-1547)
Famous For: King of England in 1509
After assuming the role as King of England in 1509, Henry VIII also proclaimed himself as King of France and Ireland. His six marriages became a source of discontent from the Roman Catholic Church, leading to a separation and to the establishment of the Church of England and the English reformation. Henry VIII also made it possible to annex the legal system in England to that of Wales known as the “Acts of Union.”
| Akbar (1542-1605)
Famous For: Greatest Ruler of the Mughal (India) Dynasty
A Mughal Emperor in the early 16th century, Akbar the Great, as he was also known, is considered the greatest who ruled during the Mughal Dynasty. Using his influence as ruler, he developed cultural, economic, military, and political dominance throughout India. He won the support of non-Muslims through integrating them into Indian society. He laid the foundations of an empire that was multicultural.
| Ataturk (1881-1938)
Famous For: First President of Turkey
His name means “Father of the Turks”, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and was the first President of Turkey. As an officer during World War I, he headed the national movement in the Turkish War of Independence in which he proved victorious. He implemented reforms in all areas of his government, cultural, economic, and political. These reforms have come to be known as “Kemalism.”
| Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)
Famous For: 32nd United States President & The New Deal
Leading the United States early in the 20th century through an economic depression and a world war, 32nd President Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the only man to be elected more than two terms as president. He implemented the New Deal Coalition as a means to help the nation recover from the depression. He even established the Social Security System. In 1938, with the threat of WW II looming, he made clear that America would be the “Arsenal of Democracy” leading to giving the necessary supply to America’s allies.
| Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964)
Famous For: First Prime Minister of India
As the leader of India’s Independence Movement through the help of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru became the architect in establishing India as a sovereign, democratic, socialist, and secular republic. He held the positions as minister of External Affairs, Finance, Defense, and eventually as Prime Minister.
| Sun Tzu (544-496 BC)
Famous For: The Art of War
Master Sun was a general, philosopher, and strategist from China. He is best known for the book “The Art of War” and a great military strategist. Little is known about him but his book has inspired many military leaders throughout the centuries.
| Marcus Aurelius (121-180)
Famous For: Philosopher Emperor
Stoic philosopher, the last of the good emperors of Rome, Marcus Aurelius was also a shrewd military strategist. As general, he led the
e to victory against the Parthian Empire, Germanic tribes, and during the Marcomannic Wars. He was more of a philosopher than soldier, although he also had a disdain for Christians and used his position to persecute them.
| Kofi Annan (1938)
Famous For: 7th Secretary General of the United Nations
A co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Peace, Ghanaian Kofi Atta Annan is best remembered for his “work for a better organized and peaceful world.” He tried to help in resolving the ongoing conflict in Syria to no avail.
| General Patton (1885-1945)
Famous For: Commander of US Army during World War II
Who does not remember George Patton, General Patton. His storied military career includes receiving command for the Seventh US Army and the 3rd US Army in Europe during World War II. He influenced the use of armored warfare, specially used in WW II. He led US troops in North Africa, the Invasion of Sicily, the Battle of the Bulge, and Normandy Invasion. He is nicknamed “The Old Man, Bandito, and Old Blood & Guts.”