Looking for Great Leadership? These 10 Companies Are Leading the Way.
Authors and academics may try, but there's no singular way to define good leadership. It's a collection of things -- taking the right risks, inspiring teams at the right time, striking a balance between firm and humble and more. But the end result of good leadership is always the same: Employees are bought into a mission, and able to move forward towards a goal.
To capture that breadth of possibility as part of our 100 Brilliant Companies list, we highlighted 10 companies' recent leadership decisions.
Wegmans, the family-owned $8 billion supermarket chain in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, is known for its customer service. (In 2018, it has already received two national awards acknowledging its excellence in the space.) But good customer service wouldn’t be possible without a highly valued and motivated workforce, says company spokeswoman Jo Natale. “Our philosophy is that we can only be a great place to shop if we are a great place to work,” she says. “We hire the best, but then we invest in training and provide opportunities for employees to learn and grow.”
In 2017, Wegmans put an impressive dollar amount behind that talk. It invested $50 million in employee training and an additional $5 million on employee scholarships for college. As a result of using such resources to support and grow its 48,000 employees, around two-thirds of all Wegmans appointments are filled internally. “Many employees who started with Wegmans as part-time cashiers have built their careers here, and many have taken advantage of our scholarship program,” Natale says. “We have people who started working here at the age of 15 who are now senior vice presidents.” (Written by Boyd Farrow)
Last year, the video-sharing site got an unexpected CEO: Anjali Sud, 34, who until then headed up the company’s creator business. But in the world of IAC, which owns Vimeo, the move made sense. Chairman Barry Diller has long made a point of promoting young employees into top positions, convinced trial by fire is a fast path to success. It worked with former IAC execs Michael Eisner (who’d go on to run Disney) and Dara Khosrowshahi (who leads Uber). Sud’s task now? To grow revenue to $100 million.
Philip Krim launched mattress e-tailer Casper in 2014 with a counterintuitive proposition. In a marketplace crammed with options, he would build a business on a single model. Bingo. Casper is now a $750 million company, and Krim is seen as a visionary. But when Casper learned during an expansion bid that its one-size-fits-all mattress didn’t fit all -- namely, Germans, who prefer a firmer mattress -- Krim ditched the mantra and developed a new product, and growth continued apace. Lesson learned: Never be beholden to any one idea.
For a time, Chipotle was an industry darling. Then came the seemingly endless string of food contamination crises, mass abandonment and a tanked share price. So Chipotle, long the face of the resistance to fast food, changed its mindset and poached the CEO of Taco Bell, Brian Niccol. Niccol’s background may be in fast food, but he’s proved brilliant at making Taco Bell the most buzzed-about player in the field, with a mix of social media brilliance and crazy food innovations like the Doritos Locos Taco. In other words, he’s a leader who gets his company the right kind of attention.
As Mark Zuckerberg was singed by Congress’s fury and other tech companies braced themselves for future privacy battles, Apple took a victory lap. “At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right,” its website declared, and went on to detail how “so much” of a user’s personal data is stored on their device -- not in the cloud for hackers to find, or sold to advertisers. It’s not a totally fair fight: Apple’s business model doesn’t rely on advertising, as Facebook’s does. But its aggressive pro-privacy stance could set the tone for the future. Where Apple leads, others often follow.
Square began as a technology company that enables small businesses to take credit cards, then distinguished itself by relentlessly innovating in the intersection of entrepreneurship and finance. Last year, it transitioned from payments provider to full-on finance company, announcing that it would open its own bank, Square Financial Services, in Utah, to offer loans and banking accounts for small businesses. It’s as if Square has come full circle.
In an age in which travelers demand increasingly personalized service, and smaller hotels and Airbnb cut deep inroads into the hospitality market, Marriott International is staying ahead of the curve with The Travel Experience Incubator. It’s a joint venture with the professional services company Accenture and startup advocate 1776, which launched last summer to incubate startups focused on disruptive technologies for the lodging industry. Rather than being forced to adapt to rapid technological change, Marriott International can foster it -- and benefit from the best.
A company like UPS is at risk for the most revolutionary types of disruptions -- like, say, Amazon testing delivery drones, or 3-D printing cutting down on the need to ship manufacturing parts. (In response to that last one, in 2016 UPS began developing a 3-D-printing business.) Now it’s making its response official with the newly created chief transformation officer position. Its hire, Scott Price, has 30 years’ deep experience in global operations, reports directly to the UPS chairman and chief executive and belongs to the UPS Management Committee, the company’s senior-most leadership group.
When you think of path-breaking innovation, you don’t usually think of print media (save for this magazine, of course). But rising direct-to-consumer beauty behemoth Glossier did just that when it hired Marie Suter, a highly touted Condé Nast creative director who has worked on such titles as Teen Vogue and Allure. It’s an insight into Glossier’s self-image: It made its name by skillfully marrying visuals, story and an intimate connection with customers, and knows those qualities are transferrable across any medium.
The gaming world isn’t exactly known for being welcoming to women. So the industry took notice this February when mobile e-sports platform Skillz committed to increasing its gender diversity by pledging to interview at least one qualified woman for available executive positions. Skillz is the first gaming company to take the so-called ParityPledge, though its track record is already industry-leading: Its technical teams employ nearly twice the ratio of women as Twitter, Microsoft, and Google.