The Top 20 Best and Twenty Worst CEOs of All Time

by Hank Coleman

Conde Nast Portfolio recently named its Top 20 Best Chief Executive Officers of all-time.  The magazine also went a step further and named the top twenty worst or most infamous CEOs. 

The Top 20 CEOs:

  1. Henry Ford – Ford Motors
  2. J.P. Morgan – JP Morgan & Co.
  3. Sam Walton – Wal-Mart
  4. Alfred Sloan – General Motors (1923-1946)
  5. Lou Gerstner – IBM (1993-2002)
  6. John D. Rockefeller – Standard Oil
  7. Steve Jobs – Apple
  8. Jeff Bezos – Amazon
  9. Andrew Carnegie – Carnegie Steel
  10.  Bill Gates – Microsoft
  11.  Michael Bloomberg – Bloomberg LP
  12.  Ray Kroc – McDonald’s (1955-1973)
  13.  Andy Grove – Intel (1987-1998)
  14.  Walt Disney – Walt Disney Company
  15.  Reuben Mark – Colgate-Palmolive (1984-2007)
  16.  Warren Buffett – Berkshire Hathaway
  17.  Katharine Graham – Washington Post Co. (1973-1991)
  18.  Lee Iacocca – Chrysler (1979-1992)
  19.  Herb Kelleher – Southwest Airlines
  20.  Oprah Winfrey – Harpo Productions

I think that the magazine forgot a few great CEOs that were left off of the list above.  My top twenty list of the best chief executives would have included General Electric’s Jack Welch and Nike’s Phil Knight.  Who else was left off of the list that you would have liked to have seen on there?

The Worst 20 CEOs:

  1. Dick Fuld – Lehman Brothers
  2. Angelo Mozilo – Countrywide Financial
  3. Ken Lay – Enron
  4. Jimmy Cayne – Bear Stearns
  5. Bernie Ebbers – WorldCom
  6. Al Dunlap – Sunbeam
  7. Fred Joseph – Drexel Burnham Lambert
  8. Jay Gould – Western Union
  9. John Patterson – National Cash Register Co. (1884-1921)
  10.  John Akers – IBM (1985-1993)
  11.  Henry Frick – Carnegie Steel (1889-1900)
  12.  Bob Allen – AT&T
  13.  Roger Smith – General Motors (1981-1990)
  14.  John Sculley – Apple (1983-1993)
  15.  Martin Sullivan – AIG
  16.  Gerald Levin – Time Warner (1992-2002)
  17.  Bob Nardelli – Home Depot & Chrysler
  18.  Stan O’Neal – Merrill Lynch
  19.  Carly Fiorina – Hewlett-Packard
  20.  Vikram Pandit – Citigroup

This list reads like a who’s who of today’s market meltdown.  Seven out of the twenty worst CEOs have some type of tie to the current financial market turmoil.  I wonder who the magazine would have picked if the recession had not happened this past year.  Conde Nast Portfolio magazine forgot to add the likes of Michael Eisner to its twenty worst CEO list.

Who else did they leave out?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Clifford Nelson April 20, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Steve Jobs does not deserve to be on this list because the organization could not survive without him. That is not a great CEO. A great CEO builds an organization that can continue to be great.

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