It's really interesting to me that the top ranked CEO of 2018 is Satya Nadella.

If you are not sure who that is, join the club.

Techies know the name immediately. He's the chief executive officer at Microsoft, and just ranked him as the best among a list of well-known names. (Sorry, Elon Musk.) Employees submit anonymous votes, and the overall rating of 82 is the highest on the list. Because it's anonymous, the results are far more believable.

(If you happen to work at Microsoft, you can still vote--just visit the site and wait for a pop-up. The survey takes about 60 seconds to complete.)

Some of the findings are also interesting.

Nadella rates extremely high among those who have only worked at Microsoft for less than a year, and he also rates high among African-American voters. The site uses a scoring system that analyzes gender, race, department and other factors.  

The CEOs at Google and Home Depot came in at number two and three. You might not know their names, either. Sundar Pichai is a former product manager at Google. Craig Menear is a well-liked exec at Home Depot, a company often ranked as a great place to work. There's a trend here, and it is critically important.

The rockstar CEO who gets all of the attention can certainly help raise the cachet at any company, especially a startup. You associate the brand with that high profile individual. Yet, all three of the top ranked CEOs are not in the role to seek attention. You don't see articles about any of them tweeting out a spurious claim or mocking people.

Nadella seems like a smart, genuine person. He has made several videos where he talked to employees and seems genuinely interested in their feedback. He is a book author, but his book is about company culture, not his own accomplishments.

What are the traits that the best leaders demonstrate the most? If you are in a leadership position, how would your employees rate you?

In my experience, the rockstar CEOs all have one thing in common--they rarely know how to show empathy toward others. They are mostly interested in presenting a celebrity image. They don't really care what anyone else thinks. When you hear their name, you think about their accomplishments and the last time they were on a podcast or made a television appearance, you don't think of the company itself.

When your identity as a leader is mostly pinned to your own role and success, it does work as a way to generate enthusiasm. However, it doesn't help when it comes to employee morale. Long-term, the CEOs and leaders who show empathy, who sit back and let the accomplishments of those at the company garner the most attention, are the ones who enjoy a long and successful career.

Sometimes they sit in the shadows, but not to those who follow.

Published on: Dec 17, 2018
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of