125 Transformational Leaders: Lists of Famous Ones From Many Countries


Some of the most famous individuals in history are transformational in one form or another. It’s one among many leadership styles. In fact, transformational leaders have been written about for thousands of years and have both praised (Christ and Buddha) and cursed (Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan). 

By Murray Johannsen, March 22, 2014.  Mr. Johannsen also routinely does Live Presentations for corporations and associations. Feel to connect via Linkedin, or by email.

Transformational leadership is seen on all continents, is practiced in many contexts. For example, entrepreneurs must function as transformational leaders to transform a small business into a large one. 

It must be said, however, that few managers or CEO’s are transformational. Most like the status quo and want to keep it that way.

One characteristic of the great transformational leaders is the ability to inspire. They just don’t know how to bore and snore. Perhaps its because they know how to appeal to your why.

125 Famous Transformational Leaders From Many Countries

Image: Civilization by Traitor.

Below are different lists of famous transformational leaders, some military, many political, and more than a few who have achieved greatness in the area of business.

Ahn, Chul-Soo

Alexander The Great

Arnold, Henry

Ataturk, Mustapha


Attila the Hun

Aurelius, Marcus

Banks Tyra

Bloomberg, Michael

Bolivar, Simon

Boyington, Gregory

Bradley, Omar

Branson, Richard

Buddha, Shakyamuni


Carnegie, Andrew

Castro, Fidel

Catherine the Great

Caesar, Augustus

Caesar, Julius


Chanel, Coco


Charles I (King of England)

Chief Joseph

Christ, Jesus

Churchill, Winston



Cornwallis, Charles

Cromwell, Oliver

Chulalongkornm, King Rama V

Cyrus the Great

David Farragut

De Rothschild, Baron

Deere, John

Disney, Walt

Deng, XiaoPing

Eisenhower, Dwight

Elizabeth I

Fields, Debbie

Ford, Henry

Franklin, Benjamin

Frederick the Great

Freud, Sigmund

Gates, Bill and Melinda


Giannini, A. P.

Giap, Vo Nguen

Goering, Herman

Goldwyn, Samuel

Gorbachev, MikhailGrant, Ulysses

Guderian, Heinz



Hitler, Adolf

Ho, Chi Min


Iacocca, Lee

Ivan the Terrible

Jackson, Peter

Jackson, Thomas (Stonewall)

Jacqueline Cochrane

Joan of Arc

Jobs, Steve

Jodl, Alfred

Johnson, Samuel

Jones, Jim

Jones, John Paul

Jung, Carl

Jung, Joo Young

Kahn, Herman

Kaiser, Henry

Kelleeher, Herb

Keller, Hellen

Khan, Genghis

Khan, Kublai

King, Martin Luther

Kissinger, Henry

Koresh, David

Kroc, Ray

Lama, Dalai

Lan, Yang


Lee, Gun Hee

Lee, Robert E.

Lombardi, Vince

Louis XIV (Sun King)

L’ouverture, Toussaint

Lynch, Peter


Mandela, Nelson

Manson, Charles

Marion, Francis

Marshall, George C.

McArthur, Douglas


Montgomery, Bernard

Musk, Elon

Morgan, J. Pierpoint

Mountbatten, Louis


Nelson, Heratio


Nightingale, Florence

Ogilvy, David

Packard, David

Park, Chung Hee

Park, Guen Hye

Patten, George

Penny, J. C.


Pershing, John

Peter the Great



Pot, Pol

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Victoria

Ramses II, Pharaoh

Rickover, Hyman

Rockefeller, John D.

Rommel, Erwin

Roosevelt, Eleanor

Roosevelt, Franklin

Roosevelt, Teddy


Schultz, Howard

Schwab, Charles

Sejong the Great

Shahrzad, Rafati

Sloan, Alfred



Tuthmose III, Pharaoh


Trump, Donald

Tse-Tung, Mao

Tzu, Sun

Vanderbilt, Cornelius

Villa, Francisco (Poncho)

Von Bismark, Otto

Von Clausewitz, Carl

Von Motlke, Helmuth

von Schlieffen, Alfred

Walton, Sam

Washington, George

Watson, Thomas, Jr.

Watson, Thomas, Sr.

Westinghouse, George

Whitney, Eli

Yamamoto, Isoroku

Yunus, Muhammad

Yi, Sun-sin

Zhou, Enlai

Below are lists of famous transformational leaders are grouped into transformational entrepreneurs and CEOs and geographically into the regions of America, Europe, Asia ,and Africa.



European history is full of transformational leaders.

    • Some used their power to build; some used their power to destroy.
    • Some established a new order; others destroyed the old leaving nothing new in its place.
    • Many were successful; others tried and ultimately failed.
    • However they lived, they exerted strong influence on their followers.


By definintion, entreprenerus must be transformational leaders. And while the American business schools are great believers in that they have to be managers, they completely neglect how to be a lead.


While there are exceptions such as Lou Gerstner, most CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies are not transformational. Decades spent obeying corporate rules to get to the top, typically creates hesitation when it comes to changing those rules.

This lists concentrates on CEOs and business leaders who:

Are not founders of the corporation.

These individuals could be considered successful entrepreneurs.

Can heal an unhealthy culture.

For example, Steve Jobs makes makes our list of as a successful entrepreneur, but also makes this list since after he returned to Apple, it was a dysfunctional organization headed toward bankruptcy.

Did not grow organization through acquisition.

Many CEOs, being men and women of action, like to buy things. However, different sources have said that as many as 2/3 of corporate acquisitions are not good deals from the stand point of the acquiring organization’s stockholders.

Do not need good PR firms.

Some CEOS who put on a pretty good facade as an enlightened, successful leader but the reality is much different. A classic example was “Chainsaw” — Al Dunlap.

While there are many great business leaders, this page concentrates on those that had books written about them or who wrote there own autobiography.


Many Asian leaders have been lost to history. Those that remain are truly fascinating. Great men and women who created nations were there was none.

Genghis Khan is undergoing something of leadership revival in Mongolia today. This site presents background information on the life of a transformational leader few of us would want to face, let alone oppose.

On the other hand, while some leaders accomplish things through the use of the sword, Gandhi chose the method of nonviolence.


Business only forms one arena for the transformational leader. Another is government. In fact, you might argue that government is a tougher test for the transformational leader than is business. For one thing, the scale is much different. A CEO influences thousands, a head of state, millions. And military leaders often function as heads of state.

Douglas McArthur as a general, he had a long and illustrious history. Transformational to a great degree, he set-up a new and completely different Japan compared to what had existed before World War II. This article also lists a series of leadership questions one can ask about your treatment of others.


Unfortunately, while humans began in Africa and migrated else where, the story of those great leaders who are now nameless and long forgotten. Here a few that are still remembered.

Leadership Skill Development