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Gates, Jobs top leadership list

A global survey of business types ranks the Microsoft and Apple honchos as most admired business leaders.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are atop a new list of the most admired company leaders, as ranked by business decision makers around the world.

Technology executives in general did well in the "2005 CEO Capital" survey (which included chairmen, as well as chief executives) done by global public affairs firm Burson-Marsteller and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Among the 15 executives listed--along with No. 1 Gates, chairman of Microsoft, and No. 2 Jobs, CEO of both Apple Computer and Pixar Animation Studios--were Dell Chairman Michael Dell (No. 4), N.R. Narayana Murthy, chairman of Infosys Technologies (No. 8), John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems (No. 12) and Jorma Ollila, chairman and CEO of Nokia (No. 13).

Burson-Marsteller pointed to Gates' philanthropic work as a key factor, alongside his continuing stewardship of the company he helped found, behind his landing in the top spot.

"Leaders and their companies can no longer safely ignore the value placed on corporate responsibility and commitment by 21st century citizens," Leslie Gaines-Ross, Burson-Marsteller's chief knowledge and research officer, said in a statement released Wednesday.

Longevity played a role in determining the top 15 as well. Eight of the men on the list are company founders; all had been with their companies at least three years; and the average tenure with the company was 21 years.

Also on the list: Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway (3); Richard Branson, Virgin Group (5); John Browne, BP (6); Carlos Ghosn, Nissan Motor (7); Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric (9); Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. (10); John Bond, HSBC Holdings (11); Terry Leahy, Tesco (14); and Lakshmi Mittal, Mittal Steel (15).

The 2005 CEO Capital involved 685 respondents--including CEOs, other senior executives, financial analysts and government officials--in 65 countries.