Who's America's No. 1 CEO? He's not a household name

In corporate America, some of the most widely admired bosses may be executives you've never heard of.

Take Jeff Weiner, who leads the LinkedIn (LNKD). He's not exactly a household name, but Weiner commands a 100 percent approval rating from subordinates who voluntarily and anonymously posted feedback on jobs site Glassdoor. That made him the highest rated CEO in the business-networking site's 2014 survey.

Weiner, a former Yahoo (YHOO) executive, was praised for his emphasis on company culture and "complete transparency," according to some of his employees' reviews.

Those traits -- inspiring a strong corporate culture and enabling clear communication -- are among the common themes cited for top-rated CEOs, notes Robert Hohman, the chief executive of Glassdoor. That, in turn, may help corporations with recruiting.

"Employees would tell you the No. 1 factor in choosing a place to work is where the culture is defined, how well communication flows and how much value is placed in transparency," Hohman said.

The key, Weiner told Knowledge@Wharton in December, is understanding the difference between leadership and management, which he said he didn't grasp when he was younger.

"For me, leadership is the ability to inspire others to achieve shared objectives," Weiner told the publication. "For me, that's the entire difference between leaders and managers. Managers tell people what to do. Leaders inspire them to do it."

Weiner's ranking is far above Glassdoor's average CEO rating of 69 percent, but there are several other leaders hot on his tail.

The second highest-rated CEO is Alan Mulally of Ford (F), with a 97 percent approval rating. Mulally, who helped return the automaker to profitability, was praised for his ability to break down barriers between groups "so we can all work more as one team."

In third place was Edelman's Richard Edelman, another chief executive probably not known to many outside his field. With a 97 percent approval rate, Edelman runs a massive public relations behemoth with what one employee called "a special gift for motivating his PR professionals."

Some executives took big hits -- and gains -- on Glassdoor's annual ranking.

One of those was Facebook's (FB) Mark Zuckerberg, who fell from his No. 1 perch in last year's survey. This year, Zuckerberg was ranked in ninth place, with a 93 percent approval rating. Why the dip? One theme was concern about encroaching bureaucracy, Hohman noted.

"The question is, as Facebook grows, will they be able to continue with an environment that's this hacker, thin, transparent culture," Hohman said.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein, whom Glassdoor notes is "most improved," jumping to No. 7 in its ratings, up 29 spots from last year. While Blankfein is often maligned outside of the bank, he's credited with helping the company survive and thrive in the wake of the financial crisis, Hohman noted.

"We've seen that in many cases the CEO has a dramatic effect on the culture," Hohman said. "We know a lot of employee satisfaction derives from the culture, and the CEO's ability to articulate and communicate that vision."

Below are Glassdoor's 10 top-rated CEOs for 2014:

1. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner (100 percent)
2. Ford CEO Alan Mulally (97 percent)
3. Edelman CEO Richard Edelman (97 percent)
4. Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs (95 percent)
5. Costco CEO Craig Jelinek (95 percent)
6. Intuit CEO Brad Smith (94 percent)
7. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (94 percent)
8. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (93 percent)
9. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (93 percent)
10. Google CEO Larry Page (93 percent)

  • Aimee Picchi

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