Great business leaders

Howard Schultz Starbucks

So, who are the greatest, most influential and most skilful business leaders currently operating in the world? Depending on who you ask that question to, you might get a thousand different answers. Here, in no particular order, our some of the ones we rate highest and why. If you run a business of any kind, paying attention to the careers of these powerful operators is well worth your time.

Howard Schultz

Schultz is the head of Starbucks, a small, local coffee house you might have heard of. What makes his story so incredible, however, is not just the incredible, globe spanning success of his franchised outlets but also the journey that took him to that position. After growing up in the poorest part of the Bronx, New York, he worked non-stop, driven by a vaulting ambition and a brilliant nose for opportunity (he's also a key investor in eBay).

Larry Page

As the head of Google, Page has been a wonderful example of a truly steadfast visionary business person staying committed to his core beliefs regardless of what the world throws at him. In its 16 year rise to global dominance, Google has been viciously criticised and gushingly praised. Page has shown the calm and self belief to let neither of these elements blow his far-sighted thinking off course.

Warren Buffett

Is there anything to say about Warren Buffett that hasn't already been said? A true legend of capitalism, his conservative, surefooted investment strategies have flown in the face of the boom and bust economics of the last four decades. The net result? He remains the most respected and successful investor of modern times.

Sir Richard Branson

Anybody that wants to know about how to successfully brand themselves, should look no further than Richard Branson. Perhaps the world's most recognisable business leader, Branson's is brilliant self-promoter, measuring his public appearances beautifully, with just the right amounts of confidence, self deprecation, humour and intelligence. The man has now amassed a personal fortune of an estimated £3 billion and owns over 400 companies, including Virgin airlines, Virgin Racing, Virgin Gaming and Northern Rock. His success in such a diverse range of ventures is testament to the pervasiveness of his brand.