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The 10 Best Performing CEOs Show What It Takes to Be a Great Manager

The 10 Best Performing CEOs Show What It Takes to Be a Great Manager

Often we look upon CEOs merely as the top dogs of organizations who take away the spotlight and the largest share of the rewards, without actually doing anything themselves. They’re thought of as crooked and tyrannical people who focus solely on the benefits for themselves and their organizations without any empathy for their subordinates and customers. Very little of this is true, however. CEOs need to work much harder than any of the subordinates and their job is constantly under scrutiny, more so than anyone else. Of course, they receive their fair share of rewards for this, but not everybody can mentally, physically and spiritually handle being a CEO, although almost everyone aspires to be one.

What does it take to be a CEO, and a very good one? Harvard Business Review released the list of top 100 best performing CEOs in the world for 2014. Now, let’s take a look at the top 10 on the list to discover what unique qualities they possess that set them apart from everyone else. We hope it will serve as something to look up to for all the upcoming CEOs and CTOs of the world.

1. Jeffrey Bezos (Amazon)

After the passing away of Steve Jobs, Jeffrey Bezos has become the leading philosopher/CEO in the tech world. The founder of Amazon.com has had a great role in the growth of e-commerce. He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1964. He graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and electrical engineering. He started Amazon.com in June of 1995, initially as an online book store. The start-up saw remarkable growth, sales reached $20,000 a week within the first two months.

An important leadership lesson we can learn from him is: “If you want to be inventive, you have to be willing to fail.” In the early days of Amazon, they used to hire editors to write book and music reviews. Later they tried to focus on customer opinions only. This didn’t produce desired results but it was an opportunity for them to learn something. They later started using both. We should never be afraid of failing if we really want to create something new.

2. John Martin (Gilead Sciences)

John C. Martin is the CEO of Gilead Sciences, a bio-pharmaceutical company that focuses on research. He was born in 1952. He holds an MBA from Golden Gate University and a Ph.D from the University of Chicago, but his Bachelor’s degree is in chemical engineering from Purdue University and thus, he is a chemist at the soul.

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What is inspiring about Martin is that he has made it to the top in business, although he is primarily a scientist. It’s generally believed that scientists do not make good managers, but Martin has challenged the norm successfully and inspires others who aren’t primarily educated in business to do the same.

3. John Chambers (Cisco Systems)

John Chambers, the CEO and chairman of Cisco Systems, was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1949. He started his career at IBM in 1976 as a salesman after obtaining an MBA from Indiana University. His rise from an IBM salesman to CEO of Cisco Systems, one of the largest tech companies in the world, has been an incredible journey.

In an interview with The New York Times, Chambers was asked, “What are the most important leadership lessons you’ve learned?” Chambers replied, “People think of us as a product of our successes. I’d actually argue that we’re a product of the challenges we faced in life.” This is a very important leadership lesson to learn. He frequently quotes Jack Welch, “It takes major setbacks and overcoming those to make a great company.” It’s very important to know that what is needed is not to never fall but to rise every time after falling.

4. David Pyott (Allergan)

Allergan Inc. is a leading health care company, and lot of the credit for that goes to its CEO, David Pyott. Since taking over the Irvine-based medical aesthetics giant in 1998, he has turned it into a five-billion-dollar-a-year enterprise. Pyott was born in 1953 in London to Scottish parents. He has received an MBA from London Business School, an MS from University College London and an MA from the University of Edinburgh.

The essence of his leadership can be encapsulated in his quote, “I never saw the next five steps. I only saw the next one.” Most of us plan for several years down the road, and quite pointlessly. We plan the future assuming certain things to happen at a point in future. But we might actually never reach that point. So remember this wise man’s words and plan for and work one step at a time.

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5. David Simon (Simon Property Group)

David Simon has served as CEO of Simon Property Group for 17 years, and has been with the company for 22 years. He was born in 1962 the son of Jewish-American real estate developer Melvin Simon. He received his MBA from Columbia University and a BS degree from Indiana University. Simon Property Group is the largest real estate company in the U.S.

Simon led the efforts to make the group public with nearly $1 billion initial public offering (IPO) in 1993 and the company has never had to look back. Back then, it was the largest real estate stock offering. What Simon inspires in us is to challenge the status quo and go beyond the point where anyone has ventured before.

6. Lars Rebien Sørensen (Novo Nordisk)

Novo Nordisk is a Danish company established in 1923 whose principal aim was to produce insulin for the Danish population. Now the company exports insulin all over the world and is an unrivaled leader in its industry. Lars Rebien Sørensen, the CEO, was born in 1954 in Copenhagen. He holds an MSc in Forestry from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark and a BSc in International Economics from the Copenhagen Business School. Sørensen started with the company in 1982, working in the marketing department. He has served as president and CEO of the company since 2000.

The company under Sørensen’s initiative released a vision statement for the company called the “Novo Nordisk Way”, which very much sums up the values of the company and also how the efficacious CEO manages it. The vision of the company focuses on Scandinavian values, emphasizing individual respect for everyone, social responsibility and a sense of duty towards the environment.

7. Hugh Grant (Monsanto)

Monsanto is a Missouri-based multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation. Since 2003, Hugh Grant has served as the CEO of this company, which was founded way back in 1901. Grant was born in Larkhall, Scotland in 1958. He has received a BSc degree in agricultural zoology and molecular biology from Glasgow University, a MSc. in agriculture from the University of Edinburgh, and an MBA from the International Management Centre in Buckingham. He has been involved with Monsanto since 1981, when he worked in Scotland for the then US-based company.

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In an interview with Leader’s Magazine, on being asked about the key priorities of the company to ensure its stature as leader in the industry, Grant answered, “The leadership I hope we can provide at Monsanto is a focus on the success of farmers.” Grant believes that when the farmers succeed, the company succeeds. A leadership should focus on sustainability and providing something of value to the customers rather than accomplishing a few short-term goals. That way, a company can go on to retain customers and grow step by step.

8. J. Michael Pearson (Valeant Pharmaceuticals)

J. Michael Pearson has served as CEO of the Montreal-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which was founded in 1960, since only January 2014. However, he has led a remarkable rise of the company within the year and is the eighth-best performing CEO as per The Harvard Business Review. Pearson received BS and BSE from Duke University and an MBA from University of Virginia. He worked at McKinsey & Company for 23 years before joined Valeant as CEO in 2008.

Pearson proves that it doesn’t take much to produce useful results if we do things right. Much of his success has depended upon effective measurement of his sales force. Proper monitoring of the growth of sales activities, which directly correspond to meeting of sales objectives and ultimately the yield of business results, has been his principal leadership style.

9. Mark Donegan (Precision Castparts)

Precision Castparts was founded by Joseph B. Cox in 1953. Mark Donegan has served as the CEO of this Oregon-based industrial goods and metal fabrication company for 10 years, having been with the company for 27 years. Aged 57 years old, Donegan joined the company in 1985 from General Electric Company. He earned nearly $9.7 million in 2014.

The leadership of Donegan at this global leader in aerospace manufacturing has focused on acquisitions and discovering ways to increase efficiency. Rather than creating something on their own, the company takes over other companies who have achieved some level of achievements in their target area. Precision, which is one of two Fortune 500 companies in Oregon, recently acquired Titanium metals manufacturer Timet.

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10. William Doyle (PotashCorp)

PotashCorp is the world’s largest fertilizer company in terms of its capacity. William Doyle, the highest earning Canadian CEO, has served as the company’s CEO since 1999. He has planned to retire in July of 2015 and, by then, he will have overseen remarkable growth of the company and enrichment of its shareholders. Doyle was born in 1961 and is a Georgetown University graduate. The 39-year fertilizer industry veteran initially started his career at International Minerals and Chemical Corporation.

PotashCorp has created a document containing core values and a code of conduct for directors, officers, employees and representatives of the company. The document very much summarizes the leadership style of Doyle. One of the metrics for success has been listed as, “The long-term value we create for our shareholders.” Doyle and the company’s aim has been always to provide something valuable and sustainable for the shareholders as well as the customers of the company.

Featured photo credit: KRISTOFFER TRIPPLAAR/SIPA/AP IMAGES via img.qz.com

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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