A CEO’s Impact on Culture and Performance

CEO Impact on Culture and Performance

The distinguishing feature of leading organizations is their culture. It affects performance, employee engagement, and the ability to create an innovative and positive work environment.

Leaders drive Culture, Culture drives Performance

Leaders have a significant impact on those around them and on the culture of their organization. And since culture affects every aspect of an organization, ranging from employee engagement, quality, agility, and innovativeness to brand and financial performance and long-term sustainability, we depend on leaders to lead in ways that create a culture that supports problem-solving and the long-term effectiveness of their organizations.

CEOs are the ultimate leaders, decision-makers, strategists, and visionaries, and their job is no easy feat. Facing high expectations and significant challenges, CEOs are under tremendous pressure to deliver results quickly. They’re often the first ones in the office, the last ones to leave, and they’re responsible for steering the ship through both smooth and rough waters. Given these challenges, the fact that CEOs show up to work day after day is expected yet admirable.

Highest rated CEOs as selected by employees

Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing job and career sites, recently announced the winners of its annual Employees’ Choice Awards, honoring the Highest Rated CEOs in 2017 across North America and parts of Europe.


Unlike other workplace awards, the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards are based on the input of employees who voluntarily provide anonymous feedback tied to their employment experience, including sentiment around their CEO’s leadership, in addition to rating workplace attributes like senior management, among others. Specifically, when rating their CEO, employees are asked to report whether they approve, disapprove or are neutral about the job they’re doing.

Great company culture starts at the top

Senior leadership truly sets the tone for company culture and is a top influencing factor of employee happiness. According to a study from Glassdoor Economic Research, highly rated CEOs are statistically linked to companies with great cultures. Among measures of company culture, the biggest driver of high CEO approval ratings is employee satisfaction with senior leadership. The study also reveals a strong link between CEO approval rating and financial performance.

“We know that CEO approval ratings correlate to overall employee satisfaction and trust in senior leadership, which contributes to long-term employee engagement, ultimately helping an employer’s recruiting and retention efforts,” said Robert Hohman, Glassdoor co-founder and CEO.

And the winners are . . .

In the U.S., Glassdoor recently revealed the 100 Highest Rated CEOs (honoring CEOs at employers with 1,000 or more employees), and the 25 Highest Rated CEOs at Small & Medium Companies (honoring CEOs at employers with less than 1,000 employees).

Topping the list of Highest Rated CEOs for U.S. Large Companies for 2017 is Clorox CEO, Benno Dorer, with a 99% approval rating.

Did you catch that? . . . NINETY-NINE percent! Among the 700,000 companies reviewed on Glassdoor, the average CEO approval rating is 67 percent.

The top ten Highest Rated CEOs in 2017 in the U.S. are:

1. The Clorox Company‘s Benno Dorer
2. World Wide Technology‘s Jim Kavanaugh
3. Boston Scientific‘s Michael F. Mahoney
4. Memorial Sloan Kettering‘s Craig B. Thompson
5. Fast Enterprises‘ Martin Rankin
6. NVIDIA‘s Jen-Hsun Huang
7. Bain & Company‘s Bob Bechek
8. SpaceX‘s Elon Musk
9. HubSpot‘s Brian Halligan
10. Facebook‘s Mark Zuckerberg

A CEO of ‘firsts’

Benno Dorer’s achievement marks several firsts for the Highest Rated CEOs award—the first time Dorer has received this award, the first time that a consumer goods company has secured the top position, and the first time that Glassdoor’s U.S. Large Companies Highest Rated CEOs list has expanded to include 100 CEOs, making Dorer’s accomplishment especially noteworthy.

While the German native may not be a household name like his company’s consumer brands, his impact on their 8,000 employees is impressive and inspiring. Employees cite Dorer’s focus on professional development, strong leadership, visibility and transparency to the business strategy, and his vision for the company as some of the top reasons he excels as a CEO, as well as factors contributing to their positive work experience.

When notified of the award, Dorer said the title was humbling. “Ideas need to come from the lunchroom and not the boardroom, and that’s exactly the kind of environment we want to create,” he shared with Glassdoor. Notably, Clorox was also ranked No. 3 on Diversity MBA magazine’s list of Best Places for Women and Diverse Managers to Work in 2016 and 2015.

One thing that I tell people is that there’s no blueprint. There is no one-size-fits-all. I always tell people to be courageous and to forge your own path, versus waiting for someone or the company to forge the path for you. I think that is the single most important thing, not just in business but, frankly, in life.
-Benno Dorer

A trusted brand

If you’re like me, your home and office cupboards probably store a few products from The Clorox Company, like Hidden Valley® dressings and sauces; Kingsford® charcoal; Glad® bags, wraps, and containers; Brita® water-filtration; Pine-Sol® cleaners; Liquid Plumr® clog removers; Fresh Step® cat litter, and others.


With $5.8 billion in 2016 FY sales and 8,000 employees worldwide, this leading multinational manufacturer and marketer of some of the most trusted and recognized consumer brand names serves up a successful recipe for organizational effectiveness.

More from Clorox on Culture and Leadership

Next month on October 3rd, Trent Sunde, Vice President – Manufacturing & Operations Services for The Clorox Company will be among several leaders speaking at the 3rd Annual Ultimate Culture Conference in Chicago.

Presenting on Going Beyond High Performance to Enable a Growth Culture, this highly anticipated and timely topic by Trent is truly not to be missed. If your schedule allows you to attend, do whatever you can to be there.

What one or two ideas did you gain from this post and how will you share or apply them? I welcome your comments below and look forward to seeing you at Ultimate Culture in four weeks.

Adapted and reprinted with permission from “Clorox CEO Benno Dorer is #1 on Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards: Highest Rated CEOs for 2017” from glassdoor.com. Copyright © 2008–2017, Glassdoor, Inc.

About the Author

Avatar photo
Kalani Iwi'ula

Kalani is a marketing professional in the field of organizational assessments for individuals, leaders, teams, and workplace culture. An advocate for the power of brand and its role in connecting how people think and perform in workplace cultures, he blends classical marketing elements with modern insights to foster environments where innovation can thrive. A creative catalyst with a strategic mindset, Kalani is accredited in Human Synergistics’ suite of assessments.