Taylor Swift Named Greatest Woman Leader, Shakes It Off to Promote World Tour
Taylor Swift’s army of devoted fans has been well documented, and the so-called Swifties now have another reason to bow down to their idol: She’s been named the world’s greatest woman leader by Fortune magazine.
The 25-year-old pop star and music mogul ranks sixth on the list, just behind Apple CEO Tim Cook, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pope Francis, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On the list of 50 leaders, Swift is among just 15 women, including General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation founder Melinda Gates (she shares the No. 18 spot with her husband).
Facing immediate criticism from skeptics, who questioned Swift’s lofty spot on the list, Fortune defended the decision by noting that she does more than sing catchy pop tunes—and yes, she writes her own songs. The Fortune editors cited Swift as exemplary of a new kind of leadership model, in which a leader exerts measurable influence over a massive group he or she doesn’t have direct authority over.
“Extensive research shows how women are better suited to this kind of leadership. They’re better than men at empathy—sensing the thoughts and feelings of others and responding in some appropriate way. They value reciprocal relationship more highly than men do,” Fortune editor Geoff Colvin wrote.
Swift’s savvy leadership—if not total music industry dictatorship—is hard to dispute. Late last year, she pulled all her music from Spotify, arguing that the popular music streaming service didn’t sufficiently compensate artists. As of this week, most of her albums are now available on Jay-Z’s music streaming service Tidal, which boasts only a fraction of the subscribers Spotify has but does charge a monthly subscription fee—which means Swift is likely to see a cut of that revenue.
To round out their defense of Swift, Fortune editors declared her the highest-paid woman in the music industry. Forbes credited Beyoncé with that distinction late last year; she earned $115 million, or almost twice as much as Swift, her closest competition. Still, it’s worth noting that just four women cracked the top 20 spots on Forbes’ list of highest-paid musicians last year.
Swift has good reason to be on the defensive about her image. Her Swifties engaged in a Twitter war with the DJ Diplo after he promoted a “Get Taylor Swift a Booty” fund-raising campaign. And after being romantically tied to a slew of male suitors early on in her career, Swift commandeered her image by rebranding it on Instagram. Her feed is now jam-packed with lighthearted photos of all her girlfriends, including fashion model Karlie Kloss, the rock band Haim, pop star Selena Gomez, and actor Jaime King (whose second child will have Swift as a godmother, King recently announced on Instagram).