Theo Epstein is the world’s greatest leader.
So said Fortune magazine, which published its annual list on Thursday morning.
The Chicago Cubs‘ president of baseball operations finished in the top spot, ahead of Alibaba founder Jack Ma. Pope Francis at No. 3, Melinda Gates at No. 4 and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos rounded out the top five.
Epstein, who helped end the Boston Red Sox‘s 86-year World Series title drought in 2004, saw his Cubs end their 108-year drought this past season. But he doesn’t necessarily agree with this honor. In a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Epstein said, “Um, I can’t even get my dog to stop peeing in the house. That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It’s baseball — a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I’m on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I’m not even the best leader in our organization; our players are.”
Wrote Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci for Fortune: “This time there was no proprietary formula, no algorithm, for self-motivated, high-character players and creating an environment to allow them to flourish. [Epstein and his assistants] never stopped searching to find edges, but they made a fundamental decision early after coming to Chicago that the one edge they could exploit was found in a very old-school resource: people.”
Epstein will be rewarded for his leadership. His first deal paid him an average of $3.7 million a year. His current deal, which he agreed to in September, will see him making nearly $10 million a year.
Epstein wasn’t the only sports figure on the list. LeBron James was named the world’s 11th greatest leader.
Fortune magazine crowns Theo Epstein ‘world’s greatest leader’ – ESPN