Mandela tops world’s most respected list

23 September 2011

Nelson Mandela is ranked first in a perception index of the world’s most visible leaders and public personalities in politics, business, culture and sport. South African President Jacob Zuma comes in at 35th place – fourth among 16 politicians on the list.

Mandela was followed by tennis champion Roger Federer in the 2011 Leader RepTrak, a new global study of the general public developed by the Reputation Institute and released in New York last week.

The global reputation consulting firm created a list of 54 of the world’s most visible leaders and public personalities, and asked 51 055 members of the general public in 25 countries to assess these individuals based on four attributes, namely the degree to which they are liked, respected, admired, and trusted.

The sample of respondents was balanced to each country’s population on age, gender, and region.

Symbol of the worldwide struggle against injustice

Mandela’s powerful story of offender to beloved first president of South Africa has made him a symbol of the worldwide struggle against injustice and a continuing source of inspiration to people the world over.

The number two ranking of Federer, the five-time US Open tennis champion, has him admired as much for his on-court results as for his off-court charitable efforts. Like Mandela, Federer has a well-known passion for South Africa and its people, due no doubt to his mother’s heritage.

In contrast to Federer, trophy-rich golfer Tiger Woods, once the darling of the media, sits near the end of the list.

Business visionaries ranked high on the list, including the philanthropic duo of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the entrepreneurial duo of Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, as well as India’s Ratan Tata.

Social entrepreneurs Oprah Winfrey and Bono regularly call public attention to global causes, for which they earned high praise from the public.

Public ‘critical of leaders’

South African President Jacob Zuma can be pleased with his 35th placing – the only politicians to rank higher were US President Barack Obama (14th), Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (27th) and UK Prime Minister David Cameron (34th). Twelve heads of state were ranked below Zuma.

The results “confirm that people respect leaders that participate in philanthropic activities outside of their own celebrity,” Reputation Institute chairman Charles Fombrun said in a statement.

“The public’s top two on our list, Mandela and Federer, have emotional ties to South Africa, and donate both time and money to the betterment of the region and its people. They get praise for their efforts.”

According to the institute, the results of the study are comparable by gender, age, and region, with minor differences – such as the fact that older respondents, and Latin Americans, tended to be more critical.

“Men and women generally rate public personalities similarly, with minor exceptions: men favour sports figures more so than women (who were especially critical of Tiger Woods); women find corporate leaders more appealing than do men; they also tend to rate female leaders more harshly than men.

“Perhaps the broadest lesson from the study is that the public tends to be critical of leaders.”

SAinfo reporter