Philip Kotler
5 min readApr 23, 2024


April 22, 2024

The Scarcity of Great Country Leaders

Philip Kotler

The United Nations consists of 193 countries. Each country carries a long history of national leaders, some good and some bad. For example, U.S. citizens have elected 46 Presidents. Only a few of them can be considered great presidents. The great U.S. Presidents include the four who are honored at Mount Rushmore, namely Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. I would add Franklin D. Roosevelt. Others might add Ronald Reagen, Bill Clinton, Barach Obama, and Joe Biden.

What strikes me is the large number of national leaders who didn’t do much to advance the lives of their citizens. Many national leaders care more about advancing their own interests than the interests of their citizens. Consider Italy’s past Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. He threw wild parties, lusted after women, became embroiled in sex scandals, helped primarily the rich, was convicted of fraud and corruption, and didn’t add any strengths to Italy.

Most national leaders, if not bad guys, are just average and trying to keep their country paying its bills and preventing protests and riots.

Great national leaders are scarce. I recognized this a few years ago. I worked with an international group in 2010 called The World Marketing Summit (WMS), committed to delivering management lectures around the world to create a better world for our future generations.

Our speakers met business people from around the world. Our group began to ask: “Are there any great national leaders today?” We came up with about five names. We discussed these five national leaders and all five were impressive. We decided to establish a prize to give each year to celebrate one of the world’s great national leaders.

The group voted to give its first annual prize to India’s leader, Narendra Modi. Modi served as India’s 14th President. He is the longest serving Indian prime minister from outside the Indian National Congress. What impressed us was that India was a sleeping tiger before Modi. When Modi took over, his aim was to wake up the sleeping Indian tiger and get the economy moving. Other Asian nations such as China, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia were growing fast and now India under Modi was joining the race.

The group decided to name it the Philip Kotler Presidential Leadership Award, partly because I had started the world tours to bring better business and marketing practices to the world’s nations. I wrote to Prime Minister Modi, described the work we have done in India and how much we admired his leadership. Modi was gracious and pleased and he accepted the first Kotler Presidential Prize.

When the announcement of the Modi prize hit Indian news media, there was a large favorable response along with an equally large negative response. Negative responders pointed out some political moves by Modi that discriminated against Muslims and other groups. This taught us that no natonal leader will be free of critics who will attack some the leader’s policies. Politics always requires making some tough decisions. Our aim was to identify national leaders who brought a new vision and drive to improve the lives of ordinary people in that country. Subsequently we were pleased to hear that Modi also received some other world prizes honoring him for his leadership.

Yet my group decided not to give any more prizes to celebrate gifted national leaders.

But the idea of the prize recently came up again in my mind. I wondered who else we might consider. So much change has occurred since we gave Prime Minister Modi the prize in 2019. I decided to use ChatGPT to identify the best performing national leaders of today. Here is ChatGPT’s answer:

Philip Kotler asks:

I would like to give a prize to those country leaders who are outstanding in their vision, character, and justice. Please list the names and countries of ten world leaders who are admired within their country and in other countries for their leadership in improving their country.


Certainly! Here are ten living world leaders who are widely admired within their countries and internationally for their leadership in improving their nations:

  1. Jacinda Ardern — Prime Minister of New Zealand: Ardern’s compassionate leadership, particularly during times of crisis such as the Christchurch Mosque shootings and the COVID-19 pandemic, has earned her praise both domestically and internationally.
  2. Angela Merkel — Former Chancellor of Germany: Merkel’s pragmatic leadership and commitment to European unity have been admired globally, particularly for her handling of economic challenges and the refugee crisis.
  3. Emmanuel Macron — President of France: Macron has been applauded for his efforts to reform the French economy, his advocacy for European integration, and his initiatives to address climate change and promote innovation.
  4. Justin Trudeau — Prime Minister of Canada: Trudeau’s progressive policies, emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and commitment to environmental protection have made him a respected figure both at home and abroad.
  5. Tsai Ing-wen — President of Taiwan: Tsai’s steadfast defense of Taiwan’s democracy and sovereignty against pressure from China has garnered admiration worldwide, along with her promotion of human rights and gender equality.
  6. Mette Frederiksen — Prime Minister of Denmark: Frederiksen has been praised for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, her focus on social welfare policies, and her efforts to combat climate change.
  7. Klaus Iohannis — President of Romania: Iohannis is respected for his anti-corruption stance, efforts to strengthen the rule of law, and commitment to European integration and democratic values.
  8. Erna Solberg — Former Prime Minister of Norway: Solberg’s leadership in managing the Norwegian economy, promoting sustainable development, and championing education and gender equality has earned her widespread admiration.
  9. Sanna Marin — Prime Minister of Finland: Marin, one of the world’s youngest heads of government, has been recognized for her progressive agenda, including measures to address climate change, social inequality, and gender equality.
  10. Abiy Ahmed — Prime Minister of Ethiopia: Abiy’s bold reforms, including efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in the region, economic liberalization, and political openness, have earned him acclaim both domestically and internationally.

These leaders have each demonstrated remarkable vision, character, and commitment to justice in their efforts to improve their countries and make positive contributions to the world.

I hope that this article gets our readers to give more thought to what makes a great country leader and what they can do to elect better national leaders.



Philip Kotler

Philip Kotler is the S.C. Johnson and Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University (emeritus)