The 99% Club: What You Can Learn From Glassdoor’s Winning CEOs


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Leaders hold the critical responsibility of shaping company culture, which, coupled with trust and respect for a CEO, are top deciding factors in a job search. Glassdoor recently released their 2019 Employees’ Choice Award Top CEOs honouring highest-approved of leaders, as rated by their employees. While the average CEO approval rating sits at 69%, Bedford Group explored the leadership styles of six CEOs with 99% approval ratings to uncover what they’re doing right and how to implement these strategies in your own organization to drive culture change and to attract and retain top talent.


Creating A Culture Of Collaboration, Learning And Improvement


Dr. Lisa Su, President & CEO of AMD appreciates the impacts of small improvements and asks for results that are just a little better the next time”to motivate employees to progress by just 5% per quarter. 5% at a time, the business recovered from billion-dollar losses, and returned to profitability. Su began her leadership development journey at IBM where she learned to focus on people in tandem to projects. Now, she has an open-door policy to encourage communication and collaboration. “One of the most important things for a CEO is not to get insulated”, she says, convening with staff and customers in-person and through social forums. A commitment to improvement, supported by access to leadership empowers AMD’s employees and motivates them to exceed goals.


For Lynsi Snyder, President and Owner of In-N-Out Burger, creating an upbeat environment and recognizing contributions are crucial to building positive cultures and retaining top talent. In-N-Out has a track record of hiring from within (many of its managers began in entry-level positions) which has required a focus on and flexible approach to continued training and development. To accommodate all learning styles, programs incorporate interactive learning, hands-on training and in-class sessions at In-N-Out University. “When [In-N-Out employees] are growing and learning new things, they are more engaged in their job”– education and advancement opportunities allow employees to see a future with the organization and imply that the company holds value in its people, thereby attracting new talent.


Mentorship, says David Aisenstat, President & CEO of Keg Restaurants, creates the foundation upon which you will find your own success. As a mentor today, Aisenstat goes beyond teaching job fundamentals, encouraging employees to improve relationships with coworkers and clientele, and to find passion in their work. Mentorship works best when the mentor is genuinely interested in an employee’s progression and the coaching experience becomes more valuable for both the mentor and mentee. The mentee is comforted to know that there is a guide who cares about their future, and the mentor is offered “a tremendous opportunity […] to help young people understand what’s out there in life waiting for them, and understand how they can make a difference in other people’s lives.” Positive mentorship experiences build strong employee relationships to retain the business’ top talent.


Values-Driven Leadership: Supporting The Brand And Giving Back To The Community


Before John Legere became CEO, T-Mobile struggled with low employee morale and high turnover. By publicly demonstrating extreme passion for the T-Mobile brand (he dons magenta T-Mobile branded t-shirts and actively supports the brand on social media), Legere proves to employees that “he is one with the team, [he] stands firmly behind the project and lives the brand”. Through his unique, authentic leadership style as an “unconventional CEO” and relentless support for the brand, he has developed an inspired, engaged and united team and positioned T-Mobile as a top place to work. Leaders like Legere who support the brand inspire employees to do the same, connecting teams to the business offering, allowing them to draw on each other’s energy and enjoy their work.


Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware has doubled the company’s size since joining in 2012. But despite the expanded responsibilities that come with significant growth, he remains ingrained in the business’ details calling himself a “blue collar” CEO who engages with all levels of the organization. Motivated by his humble upbringing in rural Pennsylvania and his faith, Gelsinger is known for his generosity (he has donated as much as 50% of his salary to charity) and commitment to doing the right thing. Gelsinger is approachable, authentic and committed to his teams and the broader community. He has earned the admiration of those around him – his employees enjoy working for a leader they trust and respect.


Also committed to giving back is CEO and Chairman of grocery giant H-E-B, Charles Butt, who has continued the family-owned business’ commitment to giving 5% of its pre-tax earnings to charity, supporting education through  scholarships, advocacy groups, awards and nonprofit work. His generosity extends to his employees, and an employee stock ownership program was implemented in 2015,which the CEO wrote “is a milestone and a recognition of our most important resource – our people”. Offering stock incentives comes at a high benefit to companies like H-E-B who generally see increased productivity and decreased turnover following implementation.


What each of these six CEOs holds in common is compassionate leadership as well as a commitment to, and respect for their team. They ensure employees enjoy and take pride in their work, value their teams and the competitive edge they offer and credit employees for the business’ successes. More than ever, candidates can, and will, complete preliminary research on an organization’s Senior Leadership Team, using Glassdoor and other resources to get to know a company’s leadership, to assess their fit and to understand whether their values will be aligned. Job seekers want to work for businesses that offer good cultures and reputable, respected CEOs – building a positive environment for your employees in-house not only keeps them retained but is a crucial first step to creating buzz with potential new talent.



The Bedford Consulting Group TRANSEARCH is Canada’s leading privately held retained executive search firm, and Canadian partner in TRANSEARCH International, with 60 offices in 33 countries. For more information on building great cultures and executive coaching, and to connect with one of our knowledgeable Partners and Principals, please visit

This article was written for The Bedford Consulting Group by Sarah Silva, Consultant. Sarah graduated from the University of Toronto in 2016 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree. After gaining research experience from her time at a global media agency, she joined Bedford in 2018 as a Consultant based out of the Toronto office. Sarah is passionate about her work in recruitment which has allowed her to leverage her aptitude for research and writing and to foster new relationships.