AMA's Top 30 Leaders in Business of 2014

Published: Nov 28, 2018
Modified: Apr 23, 2019

The results are in. Over the past two months, AMA asked for your help in determining the top 30 leaders in business of 2014. After the voting concluded, we calculated scores based on your voices, social media followings, and publication citations. Over 200 candidates were nominated, and after extensive research, careful deliberation, and your help, we are excited to announce who made the inaugural edition of this list. The list of top 30 leaders in business for 2014 includes thought leaders, authors, professors, management experts, and many more. The breadth of candidates from across the business world was tremendous, and AMA thanks everyone who participated for their input.


Here is the first ever list of AMA's Top 30 Leaders in Business for 2014, starting with number 30:

30. Jim Collins: Author or coauthor of Good to Great, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall, and Great by Choice, and contributor to Harvard Business Review, BusinessWeek, and Fortune.

29. Dan Rockwell: His blog, Leadership Freak, is one of the most socially shared leadership blogs in the world.

28. Steve Blank: Created the "customer development" methodology, a pillar of the Lean Startup movement. He is considered one of the "Godfathers of Silicon Valley."

27. Jonah Berger: Author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On and contributor to New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Science, Harvard Business Review, and LinkedIn.

26. Harvey MacKay: Author of number one New York Times bestsellers Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt.

25. Gary Hamel: Bestselling author of Competing for the Future, Leading the Revolution, and The Future of Management.

24. Bob Burg: Bestselling author of Endless Referrals and coauthor of The Go-Giver.

23. Robert Scoble: His blog, Scobleizer, was one of the most popular tech blogs before he began posting exclusively on social media.

22. Michael Lewis: Author of bestsellers-turned-movies Moneyball and The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.

21. Howard Gardner: Creator of the theory of multiple intelligences, a revolutionary educational and psychological theory.

20. Carol Dweck: Major contributor to social psychology and developer of the implicit theories of intelligence.

19. Elon Musk: CEO and product developer at Tesla Motors, a major electric car producer.

18. Adam Grant: Bestselling author, considered one of the top business professors in the world, and one of BusinessWeek's favorite professors.

17. Tony Hsieh: CEO of, who is revolutionizing customer service and encouraging employees to go above and beyond traditional service.

16. Simon Sinek: Author and creator of the "golden circle" and "start with why" business concepts of inspirational leadership.

15. Richard Branson: Founder of the Virgin Group, which started up more than 400 companies, including Virgin Mobile, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Records.

14. Michael Hyatt: New York Times bestselling author and blogger on "intentional leadership," helping leaders leverage influence.

13. Jack Welch: Former CEO of General Electric who spurred a 4,000% rise in company value during his 20-year tenure.

12. Gary Vaynerchuk: Developed Wine Library TV and VaynerMedia, a strategic creative marketing agency that has helped several Fortune 500 companies.

11. Colin Powell: Served as secretary of state from 2001 to 2005 and as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993.

The Top 10 Leaders in Business of 2014

10. Bob Sutton: Stanford professor, organizational researcher, and bestselling author. His six management books include the New York Times bestsellers The No A--hole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss. His latest book, written with Stanford's Huggy Rao, is Scaling Up Excellence. Sutton was named one of 10 "B-School All-Stars"—described as "professors who are influencing contemporary business thinking far beyond academia"—by BusinessWeek. Sutton is an IDEO Fellow and cofounder of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, the Center for Work, Technology & Organization, and Stanford’s Institute of Design (the ""). He has written more than one hundred academic and popular articles and chapters and more than a thousand blog posts.

9. David Allen: Bestselling author and a personal and organizational productivity consultant. He has done pioneering research and coaching for 30 years with managers and CEOs of some of America's most prestigious corporations and institutions. Forbes has recognized Allen as one of the top five executive coaches in the United States, and Business 2.0 magazine included him in its 2006 list of "50 Who Matter Now." Time magazine called Allen’s flagship book, Getting Things Done, "the definitive business self-help book of the decade." Allen also authored Ready for Anything and Making It All Work.

8. Ken Blanchard: Has authored more than 30 bestselling books about management. He is chief spiritual officer of the Ken Blanchard Companies, an international management training and consulting firm that he and his wife Marjorie Blanchard cofounded in 1979. Blanchard’s involvement in leadership began in the 1960s when, as an assistant dean at Ohio University, he cowrote the textbook Management of Organizational Behavior. This book introduced Situational Leadership, a new way of looking at management, and is now in its 10th edition. In 2013, the company introduced the SLII Experience, a “game changing” approach to leadership development and instructional design. Blanchard’s goal: “We need a new leadership model that focuses not only on goal accomplishment, but also on the greater good.”

7. Marcus Buckingham: Formerly of the Gallup Organization, Marcus addresses more than 250,000 people around the globe each year on strengths-based productivity. He has three bestselling books: First, Break All the Rules (coauthored with Curt Coffman); Now, Discover Your Strengths (coauthored with Donald O. Clifton); and The One Thing You Need to Know. With Gallup, Buckingham developed the StrengthsFinder exam, which identifies signature themes that help employees quantify their personal strengths in the workplace and at home. He holds a master’s degree in social and political science from Cambridge University.

6. Daniel Goleman: An internationally-known psychologist and author of the international bestsellers Emotional Intelligence, Working with Emotional Intelligence, and Social Intelligence. He is coauthor of the acclaimed business bestseller, Primal Leadership. Goleman was a science reporter for the New York Times and was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Emotional Intelligence was named one of the “25 Most Influential Business Management Books” by Time magazine. The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and Accenture Institute for Strategic Change have listed Goleman among the most influential business thinkers. He currently co-directs the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University.

5. Sheryl Sandberg: Two words come to mind with Sheryl Sandberg: Lean In. The chief operating officer of Facebook and the first woman to serve on the company’s board, Sandberg led Facebook to profitability in 2010. She oversees business operations, including sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy, and communications. In 2013, Sandberg released her first book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, co-written with journalist and TV writer Nell Scovell. The book looks at the barriers—such as discrimination, blatant and subtle sexism, and sexual harassment—preventing women from taking leadership roles in the workplace. The book has inspired the Lean In movement, which aims to help women achieve their professional and personal goals by "leaning into their ambitions."

4. Seth Godin: Author of 17 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-Industrial Revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership, and, most of all, changing everything. His books include Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip, and Purple Cow. In addition to his writing and speaking, Godin has founded several companies, including Yoyodyne and Squidoo. In 2013, he was inducted into the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame, one of three chosen for this annual honor. Recently, Godin once again set book publishing on its ear by launching a series of four books via Kickstarter.

3. Daniel Pink: His career as an author started after he quit his job as chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore in 1997, an experience that became the basis of a Fast Company article, “Free Agent Nation,” and a book of the same name in 2001. He has written five books on the changing workplace, the most recent being To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. In 2014, he became host and co-executive producer of Crowd Control, a TV series on the National Geographic Channel that draws on academic theories, experiments, and the secrets of retail and advertising to unravel and change human behavior. His TED talk on the science of motivation is one of the 10 most-watched TED talks of all time, with more than 12 million views.

2. Malcolm Gladwell: Best known for his series of bestselling books in the area of sociology, psychology, and social psychology. Starting with The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000) and most recently David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (2013), Gladwell's books and articles often deal with the unexpected implications of research in the social sciences and make frequent and extended use of academic work. In a July 2002 article in the New Yorker, Gladwell introduced the concept of "The Talent Myth,” in which he explains how some companies with excellent reputations and the apparent ability to attract the best employees often exercise this power incorrectly, promoting those with little experience.

1. John C. Maxwell: A number one New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold more than 25 million books in 50 languages. Called America’s top leadership authority, Maxwell received the Mother Teresa Prize for Global Peace and Leadership from the Luminary Leadership Network in 2014. That year, he was also identified as the world’s most influential leadership expert in an article by Inc. magazine. For six years, Maxwell has been voted the top leadership professional on As the founder of the John Maxwell Company, the John Maxwell Team, and EQUIP, he has trained more than 5 million leaders in nearly every country of the world. Each year, Maxwell speaks to Fortune 500 companies, presidents of nations, and many of the world’s top business leaders.

These 30 leaders stood out due to their immense contributions to the business world, through their inspirational words, conceptual developments, and technological breakthroughs. AMA congratulates these 30 business leaders for all of their accomplishments.