There are so many famous CEOs of multi million and even multibillion companies, each with his own personality and leadership style. You read about them in magazines, watch a documentary in TV and see their faces online and in social media sites.
The big question is who among the many is the better, if not the best CEO?
Before awarding this coveted title to anyone, let us first discuss the attributes of a great and successful chief executive officer.
First, a great CEO is a visionary. He sees the potential of his company and is able to communicate the vision clearly to all of his stakeholders from his directors, all the way down to the rank and file staff. It is the vision that keeps everyone in the company focused and motivated. It is the CEO who directs that.
Second, a successful CEO does not micro manage. Yes, he knows the details of how things work in the company but he is not necessarily involved first hand in all of the operations. He macro manages and puts the right people to head particular divisions. It is the job of those people he appointed to deal with the small details. Considering the size of the company he is heading, no good CEO would bother with micromanagement because this also means that the company would grow but also in a micro scale. Hence, he delegates to people who he knows would perform.
Third, an amazing CEO is not just involved with the trend of his company but of the entire industry. That means that should read a lot, should be able to analyze data and should be part of trade associations so he can keep himself in the know. That way, he can steer clear of threats that his company could possibly face in the future.
Fourth, an effective CEO should know feel too high up that he does not bother with his customers. They are after all the core of his business and is thus, his boss. His job is to please them the best way they know how and so he must be aware of things that are important to them as well as the problems and troubles that they are facing. That way, his company can be the solution to those problems and will become an essential part of his customer’s lives.
So here is the list of the top CEOs and let’s assess and analyze who among them is the best based on the 4 criteria stated above.
John Feltheimer of Lionsgate.
Handling 575 employees, this man was able to turn around the fate of an obscure Canadian production company and was able to make it into a powerhouse after 12 years in office. Many blockbuster hits are Lionsgate movies. His strongest point as a leader is his ability to inspire his people, encouraging them to put their heart and soul in their work.
Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com.
Starting a backyard office and running a photo business from home, this guy has gone a long way. Having sold LinkExchange to Microsoft at $265 and is now the CEO of Zappos, a successful shoe retailing company online. His strongest point as a leader is that he leads by example. Having started his business small, he knows all the things that has to be done from the most basic ones to the complex ones.
Reggie Chandra of Rhythm Engineering.
From tutoring high school students to making sure that transportations are safe and running efficiently, people have this CEO to thank for making commuting safe and easy for everyone. His strongest point as a leader is his ability to make his employees see and the believe in the very same vision that he has, which in this case is to provide safe and efficient transportation for everyone.
Meredith Whitney of Advisory Group.
The first female CEO in the list and this woman boldly left her stable job to start her own company because she wants people to work in an ideal environment that she knows she can provide. Her employees would attest to the fact that this woman leads by example and gets her hands dirty if necessary. She goes by transformational leadership, firmly believing that an ideal environment helps employees transform to become better versions of themselves.
Lanhan Napier of Rackspace Hosting.
He is into webhosting and cloud computing services. The main concern of this CEO is to keep his people happy as he believes that happy workers are productive workers. They are also the ones who will stay longer in the company. His strongest point as a leader is his genuine care for his employees and their welfare.
John Mackey of Whole Foods Market.
Having to lead 68,000 people isn’t easy but this man is able to do it with grace. The amazing thing is that Whole Foods is able to generate $10 billion and its market value has gone up to $15.4 billion. He believes in his product and the importance of health and so he does what he does. His strongest point as a leader is his ability to create order in disorder and this is important having to handle 68,000 employees.
Mike Depatie of Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group.
A success story indeed, this CEO grew the hotel chain from 7 properties to 100. He goes by a very strict schedule to make sure that he has all his priorities straight and his work for the day done. His strongest point as a leader is his dependability and reliability.
Kevin Plan of Under Armour.
This man walks his talk. He sells athletic apparel and one look at him and you would know that he always finds time in his busy schedule to be active and live healthy. He is a visionary and he sticks to that vision. He leads by example and that is his strongest point as a leader.
Aaron Jagdfeld of Generac.
This man is a visionary and he believes that items that are made in America should be of best quality. That is why they only manufacture products that are of great quality. He is a strict leader, making sure that everything is done at par with expectations. At the end of the day, his employees know that it is for a good cause and so he inspires their loyalty.
Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square.
He may be quite young but do not be fooled by his age. This man believed in the power of the Internet and he now handles 1000 people for Twitter and 400 for Square. He spread his vision so well that he has gone beyond just his employees. Judging by the number of Twitter users now, his vision is infectious. His strongest point as a leader is his creativity and willingness to adapt to change.
Steve Ells of Chipotle.
From a regular guy who maws the lawns to the co-CEO of the famous Chipotle, this guy has gone a long way. His vision was for people to live better by healthier food and now he owns a food chain that serves healthy meals. Having to do everything in the business at first when theit was still small, he clearly understands what it takes to work at Chipotle. That understanding of the business is his strongest point as a leader.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com.
Being the CEO of Amazon for 18 years couldn’t have been easy but this guy managed to do it. Amazon is now the go to website for online shopping not just in the US but worldwide.
Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com.
He has been leading the site for 13 years and under his leadership, the website was called the “most innovative company in the world”. His ability to adapt and innovate – characteristics that he encourages his employees to practice as well – is his strongest point as a leader.
Bob Sasser of Dollar Tree
Bob has been the chief executive officer of the company for the past 18 years. With his expertise, the growth of the company has averaged around11 to 14 percent which is pretty impressive. He keeps track of numbers which is very important in business because number do not lie. That is his strongest point as a leader.
Neal Patterson of Cerner.
From being a farm boy to being the CEO of the “largest stand-alone supplier of healthcare information technology”, his story is definitely one of success. He is a very persistent leader and that makes hi a great one.
Leonard Bell of Alexion Pharma.
His tenure as the CEO is now on its 20th year and was able to secure financing for the company worth $800 million. He successfully used it for operations and development. He understands the importance of numbers and knows how to work them to his advantage. That makes him a great leader.
William “Bill” Rhodes of AutoZone.
His is a story of climbing the corporate ladder. From manager, he worked his way up to being CEO and under his leadership, the company grew from 5.7 million dollars to 8.3 million. Having been trained by the best and now training the best, he understands the importance of creating future leaders.
Stephen Wilson of CF Industries Holdings.
A CEO for 9 years, he successfully led CF Industries Holdings through an IPO that costs 600 million dollars. His many years of experience makes him an amazing leader.
Willard Oberton of Fastenal.
He started work with the company as a warehouse worker that came in part time. He is now the CEO but starting from the bottom, he understands how the company works and how to successfully grow it. That is his strong point as a leader.
Gregory Henslee of O’Reilly Automotive.
His leadership skills led the company to grow an average of 20 percent. Now, O’Reilly Automotive is present in 39 states and has 3,657 stores plus distribution centers. It is part of the top 3 distributors of auto parts in the US. He worked to be the best and that makes him a great leader.
Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines.
Because he knows the industry, he was able to prepare for the rising fuel prices and came up with the fuel-hedging program which benefitted the company. His ability to foresee and prepare for future problems makes him an amazing leader.
Lee Lacocca of Chrysler.
This man turned Chrysler around during its darkest hours. He was able to make a 1.5 billion loan and managed to pay before it was due while managing to make a profit of 300 million. His ability to thrive through times of crisis makes him an impressive leader.
Katharine Graham or “Kate the Great” of the Washington Post.
By the time she retired, the stock price of Washington Post Co increased eleven fold. She left a legacy which attests to her leadership skills.
Warren Buffett of Goldman Sachs.
This man managed to increase a 5 billion dollar investment by 12 percent. His ability to meet his targets is his mark as a good leader.
Reuben Mark of Colgate.
When it comes to oral care, Colgate is the top of mind brand. It is a bestseller not just in the US but worldwide. His ability to grow the business is his strongest point as a leader.
So who among the 25 recognized CEOs are the best? Truth be told, it is impossible to give the award to just one. After all, every industry entails a different kind of leader and so they each practiced different sets of leadership skills.
Some of them were great with numbers while others were able to inspire their employees. Some of them know the business well because they worked their way from the bottom up while the long years of experience of others served them well as a guide.
However, with all their differences, list of strengths and weaknesses, there are 4 things that all of the CEOs displayed – a strong vision, the capacity to macro manage, analyze industry trends and make his or her customers happy.