Ukraine’s Oleksiy Reznikov, left, with TIME’s Simon Shuster in June
Defense Ministry of Ukraine
Ideas
September 30, 2022 1:58 PM EDT
Edward Felsenthal is the Editor-in-Chief and CEO of TIME.

What makes a leader? TIME has been many things across its nearly 100 years—a news digest, a journal of ideas, an arbiter of influence, a chronicler of what matters across virtually every discipline. But there is a constant across the decades: TIME is a study in leadership, telling the history of our time through the people who make it.

Often, the leaders through whom we tell the world’s stories are household names, from the Speaker of the House on the cover of our first issue in 1923 to Queen Elizabeth II on the most recent. What is striking to me throughout this new issue is the extra-ordinary array of leaders featured who are less familiar to the broader public—and the degree to which our collective future depends on them.

One of them is Valeriy Zaluzhny, commander in chief of the Ukrainian forces battling Vladimir Putin’s Russia. His appointment last summer by President Volodymyr Zelensky came as a surprise to nearly everyone, including Zaluzhny himself—who, like his boss, once aspired to become a comedian and now finds himself on history’s stage. “I’ve often looked back and asked myself: How did I get myself into this?” Zaluzhny told TIME’s Simon Shuster in a nearly two-hour conversation this summer, the general’s first interview since the Russian invasion began.

Simon and Washington-based senior correspondent Vera Bergengruen have written a profile not only of a pivotal figure who led Ukraine’s stunning recent counterstrike against Russia, but also of an unusual and so far remarkably successful wartime leadership style. “Ukraine’s leaders have qualities that seem right for the moment—nimbleness, flexibility, trouble-shooting, ducking and weaving,” says Simon, who also sat down with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov for the piece. “This is what they’re good at and what the Russians are really bad at.”

Here in the U.S., with midterm elections just weeks away, senior correspondent Charlotte Alter points out that the most important races may not be for House or Senate. Rather, American democracy faces its greatest test in the states.

Charlotte’s story in this issue introduces us to a group of candidates running for down-ballot offices in an effort to thwart what has become a grand strategy on the part of conspiracy theorists: to install election-oversight officials who believe the 2020 presidential race was stolen. These leaders are both Democrats and Republicans, and for the most part are not flashy politicians. They’re civic-minded Americans, many not particularly ideological, whose stated mission is to strive for fairness and accuracy.

Young and emerging leaders are a key source of inspiration for us at TIME, and in this issue, we’re also releasing our third annual TIME100 Next list, which recognizes rising stars around the globe. There is of course no one way to shape the world, and by design the 2022 TIME100 Next list—-inspired by our flagship TIME100 franchise and overseen by editors Cate Matthews and Merrill Fabry—includes musicians and medical professionals, government officials and movement leaders, scientists and CEOs.

All four TIME100 Next covers feature women, one of them Indonesian environmental advocate Farwiza Farhan, who is among more than a dozen honorees working on climate issues. Farhan has devoted her career to protecting the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, a treasure of biodiversity. In her tribute to Farhan’s work, conservationist Jane Goodall reveals that when she herself was younger, she was told that she couldn’t “do it all.” Instead, she was instructed to choose between the challenges she hoped to help tackle.

But as they and so many of the leaders throughout this issue demonstrate, we can all do more than we think. Household names and not, they show that it is possible for each of us to rise to the unique challenges of this moment. They are making history, and demanding that we join in.

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