Fortune magazine names Jacinda Ardern world's second best leader

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been named the second best leader in the world by Fortune magazine.

Ardern's handling of the Christchurch terror attack showed the world how to be an empathetic leader, the magazine said in its glowing write-up.

"The 38-year-old Prime Minister showed the world her fullness as a leader as she deftly, empathetically, and humbly navigated New Zealand through the worst terror attack in its history, after 50 were killed at two mosques in Christchurch in March," the magazine wrote.

"Rallying people behind the theme 'We are one,' she channelled the country's and Muslim community's grief as she opened speeches with Arabic greetings and quietly wore a head scarf."

The magazine said Ardern "set a standard for dignity in the face of violence" by refusing to ever say the attacker's name. 

"She won near-unanimous support for a ban on semiautomatic weapons of the kind used in the attack. Future leaders can look to Ardern for a master class in how to guide a country through a crisis."

Ardern, who came 29th in last year's list, was pipped for the top spot by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and wife Melinda, who were praised for the work their foundation has done to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Accolades have poured in for Ardern since the Christchurch shootings over her response to the attack.

Among those singing her praises were London Mayor Sadiq Khan, US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who told an audience to "channel their inner Jacinda".

She also had her image projected on the tallest building in the world - Dubai's Burj Khalifa - shortly after the attack.

Jacinda Ardern's image on the Burj Khalifa
Jacinda Ardern's image on the Burj Khalifa Photo credit: Sheikh Mohammad/Twitter

Fortune's 10 best leaders:

  • 1. Bill and Melinda Gates
  • 2. Jacinda Ardern
  • 3. Robert Mueller
  • 4. Pony Ma
  • 5. Satya Nadella
  • 6. Greta Thunberg
  • 7. Margrethe Vestager
  • 8. Anna Nimiriano
  • 9. José Andrés
  • 10. Doug McMillon and Lisa Woods