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

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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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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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