Celebrating Great Leaders: How Strong Leadership Makes A Global Top 100 Most Loved Workplace®
There are many essential elements at work in creating a happy and healthy workplace. Employee satisfaction, respect, and the alignment of personal and professional values are all essential, but they are underpinned by one vital component: strong leadership.
When a company operates under the direction of a competent and engaged leader:
Operations run smoothly
Employees feel supported
Morale is increased
Everyone works towards a common goal
Today, we’ll be celebrating 10 companies that encompass the ideals of great leadership. Through their dedication and hard work, they help propel their businesses forward and set the example of what it means to be a Most Loved Workplace®.
1. Turo (#8)
Turo comes in at number 8 on the list of Global Most Loved Workplaces 2023, which is a highly impressive feat. Based in San Francisco, they are a car-sharing company that allows drivers to rent out their vehicles to others and increase the availability of shared transportation.
There’s nothing but high praise in regard to the CEO, Andre Haddad, who firmly believes in Turo’s ethics and values and adopts them in his day-to-day operations wholeheartedly.
He believes that “the company will succeed because of its people, the Turists.” For this reason, he encourages frequent Q&A sessions alongside the President of the company, Alex Benn, where any issues or queries can be presented by employees.
Taking the time to listen to what the employees have to say is one of the best ways to stimulate a sense of togetherness and encourage productive growth. They are the life force of a business’s operations. With an on-the-ground insight into what’s happening during day-to-day operations, workers will often have a much better understanding than they are sometimes given credit for.
Turo realizes this, acts on it, and encourages even greater levels of personal growth with a $2,000 bonus awarded to each employee annually just for the purposes of learning and development.
Alignment of values
2. Wind River (#13)
Despite only recently stepping into the role, interim CEO Bryan LeBlanc has already made great progress at Wind River (WNDRVR). Having previously worked as their CFO, LeBlanc brings with him a new sense of direction for the company, earning them a spot on our list this year.
According to his peers, LeBlanc is the physical embodiment of the values Wind River strives to uphold with his:
Innovation and integrity
The data collected from Wind River’s Great Place to Work survey supports this, as 92% of employees commented that Wind River was an “Ideal” employer. Additionally, 80% reported that Wind River was “Exceptional” in the areas of:
It’s clear that LeBlanc and his team are doing incredible work, as over 95% of employee respondents also indicated that they trusted their manager’s direction and goal for the future. This sense of long-term security and the ability to lead with confidence helps make Wind River a very attractive place to work.
3. BVNK (#25)
The CEO of BVNK, Jesse Hemson-Struthers, takes an “action-oriented” approach to leading, actively engaging with his team to develop the company quickly and effectively. And there’s no doubt that it’s worked well so far.
Despite only launching in October 2021, BVNK has grown its team by 500%, from 40 to over 200 employees as of May 2023. Moreover, since exploding onto the fintech scene as a B2B crypto payments company, they have already begun snapping up top talent from other online banking companies such as Revolut.
Hemson-Struthers’ direction has been incredibly useful for BVNK, both in terms of generating revenue and securing a position as a Most Loved Workplace®. Communication is at the center of what this company does. Transparency with employees about the company itself, the nature of the financial market, and future goals ensure everyone is on the same page. This allows them to make snap decisions and move as one coordinated, cohesive unit to massive success.
4. Spotify (#41)
CEO Daniel Ek believes in constant movement and growth – not only for the company but for the people within it. In his opinion, no one should “be doing the exact same thing for more than two years” whilst working at Spotify.
This emphasis on personal development and the acquisition of new skill sets is what makes Spotify such a great place to work.
The iconic audio-streaming service doesn’t have “employees”; they have “band members.” These little quirks make working there more fun, which encompasses the “playful” value the company aims to uphold. The metaphor of being in a band together also helps promote ideas of respect and collaboration. Everyone has their own role to play in order to work harmoniously.
Because of Ek’s desire to see people constantly grow and succeed, Spotify operates under a flexible work scheme with hybrid schedules. This gives people the time to seek out new challenges and learn new things. And flexibility is particularly important when you have a workforce of thousands of people spanning the entire globe.
5. AIA (#42)
AIA is the largest publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group dedicated to “helping millions of people live healthier, longer, better lives.” With over 25,000 employees, AIA not only has a strong, dependable leader to begin with, but they also aim to create new leaders who are able to go on to help and inspire others.
Through strategic and performance coaching, they hope to train a new generation of leaders, from managerial roles all the way up to C-suite executives. What’s more, all leadership programs have a segment on well-being, designed to develop the whole individual personally, not only professionally.
Their current CEO, Lee Yuan Siong, is a role model of their “operating philosophy and leadership essentials”, acting as an important example of the standard other leaders must also hold themselves to. But, despite the rigid standards of excellence he encourages, Mr. Yuan Siong also takes the time to chat with employees in small groups, allowing for free and open discussion for everyone.
6. Gympass (#52)
Gympass is a familiar face on the Most Loved Workplace® Top 100 list, having appeared previously in 2022. It comes as no surprise, then, that this corporate well-being platform has an excellent leader helping to steer things in the right direction.
Cesar Carvalho, who founded the company in 2012, “leads with empathy and shows up in a way that makes him accessible and approachable.” Through his direction, Gympass has become an international success with a dedicated team of hundreds of loyal employees.
Gympass’s culture is one of collaboration and transparency, whereby everyone has a voice and is encouraged to thrive. The decision was made in 2019 to rewrite their values, meaning a new generation of employees could be ushered in, and existing ones were given the chance to change direction and embolden a new set of ideals. The encouragement of open dialogue between senior leaders and employees helps break down conventional workplace barriers and even the playing field for everyone. Regular group consultations help make sure that, no matter how large their employee force may be, everyone is listened to.
This is a fantastic way to lead, especially in such an active environment when there’s likely going to be lots of movement and energy. Taking the time to slow the pace and frequently assess how things are going ensures everyone stays on the right track and no one gets left behind.
7. Medallia (#74)
In March 2023, Joe Tyrrell replaced Leslie Stretch as CEO of Medallia. But, despite not being there long, it is clear to the company that Tyrrell is going only to do what is best.
As a customer and employee experience management company, Medallia knows the importance of cohesive communication. This is something that Tyrrell has already upheld magnificently with his brand new “Ask Joe” open-door policy. By taking the initiative, he has made himself accessible to every employee and made the value that Every Experience Matters real.
However, as a new CEO from a background rich in fintech operations and AI, this could also prove to be a turning point for Medallia, leading to new innovations, experiences, and opportunities.
Medallia operates under the idea of goal-oriented leadership, which requires concrete decision-making, confidence, and a level head. But, to reach greater bounds and keep on improving development, a leader must also have a sense of ambition and creativity, which they can instill in others to help people realize the same goal. Monthly global all-hands meetings are excellent for encouraging wider communication outside of one-on-one contact with Mr. Tyrrell.
8. Alares Internet (#86)
This Brazilian-based broadband company, headed by Denis Ferreira, has recently undergone some changes, moving away from individualistic goals and towards collaborative, team-oriented ones. This includes working towards greater opportunity for leadership and educating a new crop of managers and directors from inside the company who will hopefully bring in new ideas and spur development onwards.
Ferreira and the rest of Alares’ directorial team aim to encompass and promote three core ideas:
Delivery of results
Focus on the customer
To properly make good on these values, Alares has systematically bought out many rival internet providers within Brazil, including Telecommunications Sapucaí Telecom and NHA Chica Provedor de Internet. This has allowed them to grow their subscriber base to over 500,000 clients across 6 states within the country.
It’s a strategy which Ferreria has called “diligent” and has allowed for much greater opportunity within the company and for employees, including an optional English language-learning program.
9. Flydocs (#90)
Aviation solutions company Flydocs is led by Andre Fischer and his enthusiastic “it’s a people-first business!” approach. Whilst he keeps a steady eye on everything that goes on within the company, including being the one to talk through difficult situations when needed, Fischer still maintains an informal air when it comes to conversations with employees.
Realizing that there was a break in communications, he developed the Chat Space forum to help bridge the gap between managers and workers. This allowed for a better flow of information, which served to make operations run smoother and kept employees informed of what was going on.
Moreover, Flydocs have Leadership Cohort programs which give teams access to a self-learning portal so they can focus on employee growth and development outside of their main job description.
The constant encouragement for greater personal growth is what makes Flydocs an excellent company to work for. And the idea of honesty and personal responsibility creates an environment of trust and mutual respect – something which Fischer strives for constantly.
10. Greif Inc. (#99)
Greif has been a long-time presence on the Most Loved Workplace® Top 100 list. One of their core values is servant leadership, which gives an insight into how it’s possible to simultaneously be a strong yet humble leader.
Despite appearing 99th on our list, they have still rightfully earned their place as a Most Loved Workplace®. Greif Inc. has been around for 145 years and is currently home to over 12,000 employees, spanning 35 countries in 5 continents.
President & CEO Ole Rosgaard is a prominent force when it comes to developing greater ways to be sustainable within the company and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA).
In an industry where there is such a devastating risk of deforestation and overconsumption of natural resources, Rosgaard and the Board of Directors make sure that it is one of Greif’s key values to act as sustainably as possible. They do so by operating under a circular paperboard economy, whereby every single piece of material is used and recycled, which keeps any waste away from landfills for as long as possible.
To keep a fresh supply of new and innovative ideas, Greif works closely with their local community, keeping an introspective view of their employees. Everyone is encouraged to submit ideas to the innovation hub, and the leadership team (nearly all of whom attended prestigious universities themselves) offer company-sponsored education and development plans from their own “Greif University.”
The idea of taking leadership may excite or terrify you. There are a lot of responsibilities that come with it, but the reward of bringing a company to new heights of success is a feeling unrivaled within business operations.
Each of these 10 companies have exhibited examples of strong leadership, either through their personal direction and influence or through their fostering of a new generation of C-suite executives, guided by thorough training and compassion.
Every business operates differently, and there’s by no means one easy key to success. Trial and error is part of the process. But the strongest of leaders will rise to these challenges and, no matter how many times they get knocked down, will come back more determined than ever.
Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, Most Loved Workplace, and Results-Based Culture. Author of In Great Company, Change Champions Field Guide, and Best Practices in Talent Management, as well as a series of Leadership Development books. He is a trusted strategic advisor and coach to CEOs, CHROs, and leaders of mid-sized to F500 companies – enabling change and steering employer brand development together with highly effective teams, leaders, and organizations as a whole.