What it Takes to Be the Best Boss According to Top CEOs (Part 1)

To drive a business forward, bosses have to first move people forward. And here is where some business owners whether of a small store or a large company fails to realize this truth and activate its untapped potential:

The very first people bosses have to satisfy, to motivate, to convince aren’t their customers, but their employees.

To others, it may seem contrary to conventional corporate beliefs or simply an idealistic thought, but the world’s top CEOs and their time-tested practices could not disagree more.

As Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail put it, “Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.”

In that spirit, here are some traits that the best bosses exude, not to mention, the leadership principles they live by. Hint: They are all properly practicing a  servant-leadership belief.


  1. Kristen Hadeed, Student Maid Founder and CEO


From having a low retention rate to an industry-leading one, Kristeen Hadeed found what it truly meant to drive a company and its people onward.

Hadeed had lost 45 of her 60 initial employees. She found that she had been the reason why.

“That’s when I realized that leadership isn’t a privilege to do less. Leadership is a responsibility to do more,” she said during her 2014 TED Talk.

In her defense, she was able to do something that others don’t find easy to: Finding the root cause of a problem to be one’s self, and fixing it.

Student Maid’s staff are composed of students, millennials. Normally, the turnover rate for such companies is about two months. At Student Maid it’s up to over two years (until the students leave college).  

This is great part thanks to her instillation of a culture that gives and breeds respect not only towards their customers but amongst their fellow employees as well.

If their customers are happy, it’s because their employees are, she believes.  


  1. Sylvia Metayer, CEO of Sodexo Corporate Services Worldwide


Sodexo, is one of the World’s Most Admired Companies, and it has held this title not just for one year, but for five consecutive years.

Its CEO, Sylvia Metayer, has this to say on what she has learned playing her role in a recent interview:  

“I’m learning that to be a CEO is to be a servant. My main job is to support our employees, and be a support to our clients and to our consumers.

“In supporting our employees, I think the most important thing — and it really comes as a consolidation of many trends — is how do you make people’s work easier?”

Metayer added that it is the reason why their company is focusing on training their people and using technology as a way to keep up with the changing times. Their approach from having a very top-down management is shifting to a more collaborative one, she added.


  1. Melissa Reiff, The Container Store


Many know and love The Container Store as their go-to place for functional and affordable storage and organizational products.

But for the American workforce, they also know it as one of the best places to work in. In fact, the company has been on the aforementioned Forbes list for 18 consecutive years.

At the company, “Communication IS leadership,” which Reiff herself had come up with. More than just a slogan, it is the daily practice of Reiff and her fellow employees. That is, exercising thoughtful, effective, and courteous communication.

Everyone also knows everything at The Container Store. While it may prove ineffective and disadvantageous for other companies, it has helped foster a trusting atmosphere and a sense of empowerment and importance to the employees.

“We know that some information we share could fall into competitors’ hands, but the advantages far outweigh the risks,” said Reiff.

More about effective leadership and other traits that great bosses have on our next blog post.

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