Every spring Forbes’ put together the World’s Greatest Leaders list to draw their readers’ attention to the public figures and behind-the-scenes motivators we admire most. Although Fortune is first and foremost a place for business journalism, they range beyond business narrowly defined to put a spotlight on government officials, chiefs of NGOs, clergy, coaches, athletes, artists, educators—anyone who has used their influence and status to make a difference in the wider world. One of their premises is that anyone who wants to lead in business can learn lessons from anyone leading anywhere. (Article by Matthew Heimer.)

That said, there’s always a place for business leaders on this list, too, and this year is no exception: We feature 12 CEOs (or holders of equivalent posts with different titles), from six countries, who we think are exemplary. Here’s who you’ll find on the list (click to the feature itself to learn more about them and the rest of the Top 50):

Kenneth Frazier, Merck (#5). At a sensitive time for the pharmaceutical industry, he took a bold social and political stand.

Larry Fink, BlackRock (#8). The chief of the world’s biggest asset manager is now leaning on other CEOs to put their money where their principles are.

Mary Barra, General Motors (#11). Tesla may get all the headlines, but Barra is positioning GM well for a future of driverless (and electric) cars.

Tim Cook, Apple (#14). He has helped turn Apple into a phenomenal cash-generating machine, without sacrificing innovation.

Huateng ‘Pony’ Ma, Tencent (#19). China’s wealthiest man is turning Tencent into a global player whose reach goes far beyond its own products.

Marc Benioff, Salesforce (#21). Few can match Benioff’s combination of imagination in business and zeal in social advocacy.

Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries (#24). In less than two years, he has turned India’s cellphone market upside down.

Oprah Winfrey, OWN (#27). Long after her talk show went off the air, her spreading media empire ensures she’s an influential presence in countless U.S. homes.

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase (#33). One of the business world’s most tireless advocates for tax reform is now figuring out how to deploy a tax-cut windfall.

Daniel Servitje Montull, Grupo Bimbo (#36). The head of the world’s largest baking company is fighting to make his product more accessible and more earth-friendly.

Feike Sijbesma, DSM (#44). At the helm of a Dutch speciality chemical maker, he’s gone farther than any other executive in giving his company a planet-friendly overhaul.

Ana Botin, Banco Santander (#46). She has turned Spain’s Santander into a pillar of strength in Europe’s still shaky banking world.

This article is part of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders feature, our annual list of world-changing leaders in business, government, philanthropy and beyond.

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