Taylor Swift Named #6 Greatest Leader In The World, But Does She Really Deserve The Spot?
There's no denying that Taylor Swift is on top of the world right now. In 2014 she was named one of Forbes' richest celebrities, and her latest album, 1989, broke records with its release and become the top selling album of 2014. She's also at the center of what seems like a endless circle of beautiful famous women from all walks of celebrity. But despite her ubiquity as a country-turned-pop princess, it's still a shock that Fortune ranked Taylor Swift as #6 on their World's Greatest Leaders list, right behind Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at #5 and Pope Francis at #4. That's a pretty big honor, and even though Swift's star is certainly on the rise and about to become our next sun, does she deserve to be in the top 10, especially because so few celebrities on the entire list of 50?
Obviously, when asking this question we have to consider how Fortune put their list of leaders together. They describe the list saying, "These extraordinary men and women are transforming business, government, philanthropy, and so much more." For some context, Tim Cook of Apple is the first on the list, and other big players include: Jeff Bezos of Amazon at #27, Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, at #44, and Jimmy Fallon at #45. Fallon is the only other "conventional" celebrity on the list, though a couple basketball players made the top 50 as well. Reading Fortune's introduction to the list, though, is pretty stressful — it sounds like they think the world is devolving into chaos and anarchy:
Governments are failing, companies are under siege, and age-old institutions are losing their grip. How do you lead in a time when everyone is a free agent, following his own star? We’ve found 50 living lessons.
Hey Fortune, are you OK? In their profile of Swift, they cite her battle with Spotify, her chart-topping album, and her social-media savvy as reasons she earned the spot. Which is all fair and good. But does that really put her at #6? I hate to pull a Kanye West here, but where the hell is Beyoncé? Or even other celebrities like Amy Poehler or Angelina Jolie? Beyoncé and Jay Z are literally worth a billion dollars, and Bey is pioneering music in an electric way that definitely merits her spot on this list. She was on the cover of Time's 100 Most Influential People issue in 2014, which only highlights her absence from this Fortune list. Not only is she in the spotlight financially and in business, but she has become a modern feminist icon, subverting the misconceptions of feminism and breaking barriers as a black woman who has conquered the world of music.
I like Taylor Swift. I agree with Fortune that she is savvy and smart and talented, not only on the stage but behind the scenes. She's young and already a globally recognized and loved artist. But I am particularly disappointed not to see a famous woman of color on the list, when I can think of so many off the top of my head: Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Shonda Rhimes, Lupita Nyong'o, and those are only a few. If Fortune is arguing on purely a business-savvy basis that Swift is the best of the best, I'd counter with the phenomenon that is ShondaLand.
Obviously, there isn't room for EVERYONE on such a curated list like this, and Fortune made sure to make it clear that the selection process was long and particular to ensure fairness. And to say that Swift doesn't deserve to be on the list period isn't the case. I can see her being on the list, just not in the top ten, ahead of names like Tesla Motor's Elon Musk (#23) and Pete Frates, the creator of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (#19). Even though she's definitely changing the landscape of music, I'm not sure how much Taylor Swift is changing the world — at least not yet.
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