What we can learn from Top CEOs

6 min. read

Taking a look at successful CEOs and what we can learn from the workplace cultures they create.

Watching how successful people navigate this world that is fraught with pitfalls can teach you a lot about yourself and how to conduct yourself. Some lessons can be absorbed by seeing what works and you can also learn a lot by paying attention to areas in the "don't" column.

When it comes to the culture of an organization, there are key things that make it an amazing workplace. Comparably’s inaugural Best Global Company Culture listed the Top 50 workplace cultures of large companies both here in the United States and abroad. All of the ratings were done during the global pandemic so it is as up-to-date as you can get for this type of research.

Nearly 20 different workplace cultures were assessed taking into account their compensation as well as their work-life balance. It delved into professional development opportunities and leadership and also explored the perks and benefits available to them.

Taking a look at the CEOs of each of the Global Culture top 3 gives us a substantial insight into how successful cultures are created and how the CEOs of the most amazing workplaces are seen through the eyes of their employees.

Let's examine what we can learn from these top CEOs.

The third place spot was filled by Samsung. Their CEO, Young Hoon Eom is an exemplary model of efficiency. He is also thought well of across the board when it comes to gender and runs an organization that is top-tier when it comes to diversity and inclusion and fairness. Research showed females at Samsung rated Young Hoon Eom highly for his leadership qualities. Making a comopany culture at a workplace inclusive and diverse is a key to success in the modern business world. Gone are the days of the old boys club. It is far better to rather access different people with varying talents and backgrounds to make teams that complement each other and are more efficient and effective.

The number two spot was held by Adobe in San Jose. Adobe’s chairman and CEO is Shantanu Narayen. Some fast facts about Narayen show how highly he is respected, and his business pedigree is quite impressive. He has been named one of the world's best CEOs by Barron's magazine time and again. In 2020 he was ranked as a Fortune's Business Person of the Year. He made number 7 on the Forbes list of America’s Most Innovative Leaders and in 2011, the President appointed him to the President's Management Advisory Board.

Narayen holds five patents and he is also a frequent speaker at industry and academic events, so it's fair to assume that his ability to talk to people on a large scale is excellent. His emotional intelligence serves him well in his many and varied responsibilities. Before he joined Adobe, he worked as a product developer at Apple, a company he left to join Adobe in 1998, and worked his way up the chain of command impressing at every level before becoming CEO in 2007.

President of the Board of Adobe Foundation, Shantanu Narayen truly cares about people. The foundation funds philanthropic initiatives all over the globe. It is no wonder the culture of the organization he heads is considered one of the best in the world. He also serves on the Board of Dell, Inc. and the Advisory Board of the Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley. His work ethic and understanding of how to get things done while looking after people and their needs and desires is close to being unparalleled.

Narayan gives back to communities and makes it his mission to help others. It is this perspective that has made him one of the best and most innovative leaders out there. When we take a lens to the Comparably Best Global Company Culture CEO score and look at factors like gender and ethnicity it became clear that females at Adobe rated Shantanu Narayen higher than other employees, giving the CEO a score of 94 percent. He is a seriously progressive human with an attention to detail and emotional equilibrium that is not easily replicated.

If you want to change the game and be attentive to the needs of others across the board you could do worse than study this man's career and take diligent notes. No matter what your business is, if you take a page out of his book, you can't help but start to create a positive workplace culture.

And the winner is...

The top spot in the Comparably inaugural Best Global Company Culture was Google in Mountain View California. Google's CEO is Sundar Pichai. He was one of the highest-rated CEOs on Glassdoor with a 96 percent approval rating. Pichai grew up in Chennai in India, where his family was not well off. To give you an idea of just how not-well-off his humble beginnings were, he and his brother slept together in the living room of their two-room apartment, according to a Bloomberg report.

A highly intelligent young man he earned a scholarship to Stanford and moved to California. Hired at Google the day Gmail was launched, he worked his way up the corporate ladder and eventually ended up convincing his bosses to design a browser system. Google Chrome is now the most widely used system in the world, outpacing its competitors Firefox, Safari, etc.

He has stayed loyal to Google even though it has been reported that he has been courted by the likes of Twitter and other tech giants. This loyalty was eventually rewarded and he became Larry Pages' second in command. He was the guy who brought the vision to life and his skill in understanding what is needed and his way of handling teams to get to results has been nothing short of spectacular. He is now the head of Alphabet the holding company behind Google. His innate understanding of how to boost confidence and focus teams has resulted in a company that is lauded both by not only the people who work there, but also by those who view it from the outside.

One Googler on Quora said about him, "He is literally worshipped inside Google. Engineers love him. Product Managers love him. Business people love him.”

Being a great leader means making your business an amazing place to work. Ensuring the culture you create is inclusive and caring about your fellow professionals and customers reinforces loyalty in your staff and public alike. They should feel comfortable and they need to be listened to. Boosting your success and winning overall is a side effect of a great culture in the workplace and we would do well to follow in the footsteps of these successful CEOs and cultivate diverse and inclusive workplace cultures.