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The 50 Most Well-Liked CEOs In The U.S.

These leaders are scoring high marks from employees for steering their companies toward a clear vision that’s engaging and challenging.

The 50 Most Well-Liked CEOs In The U.S.
[Photo: Flickr user Flazingo Photos]

You’ve probably heard that people quit their bosses, not necessarily their jobs. Indeed, a Gallup survey found that about 50% of 7,200 adults claim to have left their position because they couldn’t deal with their manager.

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An immediate supervisor may have an impact on the day-to-day work, but the company’s CEO is leading the charge, especially at a larger firm. Yet according to employees at large organizations (1,000-plus staff) they have just as much impact as the manager who’s right across the hall.

Some CEOs are terrific at boosting engagement and loyalty. Others, not so much. A just-released Glassdoor survey ranked the 50 CEOs that got rave reviews from their staff as well as the winners of its third annual Employees’ Choice Awards.

Glassdoor’s rankings use the company’s proprietary algorithms to parse the reviews of employees who anonymously and voluntarily provide feedback via the Glassdoor company review survey all year long on whether they approve or disapprove of how their CEO is leading the company, along with insight into their job, work environment, and company. A minimum of 100 reviews had to be entered in order for the CEO to be considered.

Among the spectrum of industries represented by these favorite CEOs, tech is the most prevalent, with 15 CEOs out of the 50. The retail industry made its presence felt with seven CEOs represented.

Topping the chart are:

  1. Google’s Larry Page – 97% approval
  2. Nike’s Mark Parker – tied for 97% approval
  3. H.E.B.’s Charles Butt – 96% approval
  4. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg – 95% approval
  5. Ultimate Software’s Scott Scherr – tied for 95% approval

Google’s Larry Page made a significant leap from 11th place on last year’s list to take first place this year. Staffer raves about the free food are secondary to claims that the company offers a challenging environment and opportunities to develop professionally.

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Many employees agree that the culture of transparency and the ability to work across teams was top notch–even for the interns. That said, perks like shuttle buses, nap stations, and unlimited food and beverages can challenge work/life balance for some. In spite of those gripes, Page’s approval rating stayed positive.

“You’ll see Larry and Sergey at TGIF and you’ll admire how they lead the company. They are brilliant, goofy, low key but intense, and likeable.” – Google Employee (Mountain View, CA)
 
“Hires the best and the brightest people and works on ambitious goals. You work on things that matter in the world. Larry has a great vision for the company.” – Google Employee (location N/A)

Page took the place of last year’s No. 1 CEO, LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner, who scored 100% approval in 2013. This year, Weiner dropped out of the top 10 completely, moving to the No. 12 spot with 93% approval.

According to Glassdoor’s community expert Scott Dobroski, Weiner’s approval rating fell in part because of the red tape and bureaucracy gaining momentum at LinkedIn. “This is typical of what we see in companies that are still growing, and public on top of that,” says Dobroski, noting that at a 93% approval rating, Weiner is well above the average CEO approval rating of 69%.

Dobroski says the employee reviews speak volumes about how Weiner’s leadership is still revered:

“Clear vision and mission, reinforced by CEO Jeff Weiner at bi-weekly all-hands meetings.” – LinkedIn Marketing Manager (San Francisco, CA)

“I love this company and approve our CEO 100%. CEO responded to my email in 5 minutes.” – LinkedIn Software Engineer (Mountain View, CA)
 
“True leadership at the top who live and breathe the culture, values, and mission of the company.” – LinkedIn Director (Mountain View, CA)

At least Weiner is still on the list. Only 20 CEOs continued to place since 2014. Last year’s second-place CEO, Ford’s Alan Mulally, and third-place Richard Edelman of the eponymous creative agency, didn’t make it into the top 50 at all.

Newcomers include No. 14, T-Mobile’s John Legere; No. 16, Chevron’s John S. Watson; and No. 48, Airbnb’s Brian Chesky.

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Dobroski says there is one characteristic that sets these top 50 CEOs apart: “They all share a very clear vision for their company, and communicate this vision to employees, including how all employees play a pivotal role in reaching company goals. This really motivates a workforce to know what they need to do and why.”


About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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