Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Skills Make The Top Ranked CEOs The Best?

Being the CEO of a major corporate company takes hard work, dedication and most importantly, being an exceptional leader. Having strong leadership skills is crucial in the business world; acquiring and mastering these skills will help you keep up with the demands of being a CEO and being the best leader you can be. Let’s take a look at a few of the top ranked CEOs in the USA and what sets them apart from the rest. 

Steve Jobs

Jobs, co-founder of Apple, is the highest ranked CEO due to his extraordinary leadership qualities. After introducing the Macintosh and changing the face of the personal computer industry, he founded his own company, NeXT Computer, before returning to Apple and introducing the iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad.

What made Steve Jobs such a brilliant CEO? 

Transformational Leader

Jobs was passionate and enthusiastic about his company and products; he created visions and always motivated his team, making him a transformational leader. 


The company was producing numerous products when Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, and after some product review sessions he took hold of the reigns. He told his team their job is to produce four superb products and to cancel all others. In creating this focus, Jobs saved the company and stated: “deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

Willingness to Take Responsibility

Something very few companies do is take continuous responsibility for user experience – something Jobs and Apple did that made the company so successful. 


Jobs always made sure that his business persona was accompanied by his true self – an artistic, nonconformist Buddhist who encouraged creativity and creative thinking. He helped write the text for the “Think Different” ads and is quoted saying, “While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Meg Whitman

Whitman was the CEO of eBay from 1998 until 2008. During her time as CEO she completely restructured the management, increased revenue from $4 million to $8 million and expanded the company from 30 employees to 15,000. Fortune has named her one of the top five most powerful women and she is ranked 9th in the Harvard Business Review’s Top 100 Performing CEOs.

What skills made Meg Whitman a powerful leader?

Authentic Leadership

In being an authentic leader, Whitman demonstrates her understanding of herself, what she is doing and the direction of her business. 


With a continuously evolving business world, it is important for CEOs to adapt and be flexible – something Meg Whitman was exceptional at. Her company was one that reinvented itself every few years and she wasn’t afraid to keep up with new technologies, making acquisitions with PayPal and Skype, though they sometimes had mixed results. 

Relationships and Respect

Whitman was a firm believer in influencing relationships with her employees as opposed to controlling them. In doing this, she won their respect and showed them the same which created a positive work environment and increased productivity and motivation to succeed. 

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg, the creator and CEO of Facebook, became the world’s youngest billionaire in four short years. In 2004, when he created the social network in his dorm room at Harvard, he had no idea he would change the way the world communicates and how people interact. Many companies, such as MTV, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft, have tried to buy Facebook, which is now valued at about $68 billion. At 22 Zuckerberg walked away from a $1 billion offer stating, “it’s not about the price. This is my baby and I want to keep running it, I want to keep growing it.”

What qualities make Mark Zuckerberg a successful leader?

Social Perceptiveness

One of Zuckerberg’s best qualities as a leader is how he pays attention to his users and employees and understands how they respond to change. For example, when Zuckerberg made updates to Facebook, it was met with some backlash from users who felt their privacy was being invaded by the modifications. He quickly reacted and implemented new privacy settings. The users were grateful for his immediate attention and effective solution.   

Ability to Inspire

Zuckerberg had a vision and acted on it, using his talents and knowledge to make that vision a reality. He inspires his peers, employees and users alike to reach their full potential through his hard work as well as through his presentations at conferences. 


Zuckerberg is committed to his company and works hard alongside his employees, showing them hard work can be done on every level and that he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. By showing his commitment and passion for the company, it drives his employees to share the same dedication, keeping energy levels up and positive, resulting in a hard working team. 

This post was provided by a contributor from the Michigan State University Executive Education Program, which offers a variety of programs to help corporate and business leaders improve their leadership styles and strategies.