Defining Leadership through the Fortune 500 Leadership is a difficult term to define. In literal definition, it means “the action of leading a group of people or an organization”. However, that is a very prosaic definition. What qualities make up “the action of leading a group of people or an organization”? One way to find out is to observe the qualities possessed by leaders themselves. The Fortune 500 is an annual ranking of America’s largest corporations. At the very head of each one of these 500 corporations is a single individual called a Chief Executive Officer, or CEO.
The CEO is in charge of all of the main responsibilities of the corporation. So it is no doubt that CEO’s are leaders; the CEO’s of the Fortune 500 lead millions of employees and large scale business decisions everyday. As number two on the Fortune 500 list, Walmart is regarded as one of the very first “big businesses” to ever go multinational. The statistics on Walmart are astonishing: housing more than two million full-time employees, boasting a whopping $405 billion in revenue last year and owning more than 8,500 stores worldwide.
Beginning as a small business investment, it is no doubt that the Walmart corporation took someone with a vision to develop its domination in the business world. Not only did it take a vision, but someone audacious, reliable and empowering enough to execute such a large dream. In 1962, small business owner Sam Walton opened the very first Walmart in Rogers, Arkansas. The strategy of the business was one the world had not seen yet before: a chain discount store. Within just five years, it had expanded to 24 stores, and by 1968, it had went multistate.
That was just the beginning of the Walmart rise to reign. But what qualities did Sam have to build such an empire? Many claims Walton was very inquisitive and open to criticism of his business in order to improve it; he was constantly concerned about the customer and looking to improve. Walton was also optimistic; his positivity bred grounds for happy employees—gaining the willpower of each individual. Walton was also clever, learning from his competitors and seeing how he could use the skills he had seen to advance his own business.
Today, Walmart is one of the largest corportations in the world thanks to its first CEO, Sam Walton. Walmart also gives back to its community: In 2011, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave $958. 9 million in cash and in-kind contributions around the world. Rising above Walmart this year for number one on the list of the Fortune 500 is ExxonMobil. Over the last 125 years, ExxonMobil has went from a kerosene distributor of the US to the largest publicly traded petroleum enterprise of the world. Their leadership strategies date back to its founding, with the Rockefeller’s oil industry.
The Rockefellers were one of the biggest and first U. S. businesses back in the age of the industrial revolution. ExxonMobil has underwent several name changes and through many CEO’s to get to its standing in today’s #1 place in the market. So how does Rex Tillerson handle it all? Many report Tillerson as optimistic, clear and confident. He has been working with ExxonMobil for over thirty years, so it is apparent that he is consistent and persistent with his business as he deals with a fluctuating market.
Communication also plays a major role in Tillerson’s leadership style. “What we support is continued efforts to understand the problem better. We need to work harder on articulating our views, and we’re going to try to do better at that in the future,” Rex has said. Rex understands the importance of communicating within his company with his employees as well as potential investors. Not only is Tillerson a great business titan, but like Walmart, he gives back to his community.
Through the work of Tillerson’s leadership, ExxonMobil is involved with many groups and organizations including his involvement of many organizations including Alpha Phi Omega, the United Negro College Fund, and the Boy Scouts of America. Allergan is ranked #457 on the Fortune 500 list, but do not be fooled by this number: it is by far the fastest growing corporation on the Fortune 500 list with a 155650. 0% change of profits from 2010 to 2011. David Pyott is the CEO of this pharmaceutical corporation and ranked #11 on Forbe’s list of CEO’s.
He joined in late 1998 and reconstructed the business’s strategy on worldwide operations. In June 2006, he was awarded the honor of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Her Majesty the Queen in acknowledgment of Pyott’s contribution to British business excellence and management skills in the United States. Pyott holds leadership in many international boards as well as serves member in many international medical-related councils and organizations. Through this, he gains a keen view of the evolving world around him and applies this to his business.
So it is of no doubt why Allergan can be seen as the fastest Fortune 500 under Pyott’s leadership of just 13 years thus far. Allergan also has significant claims about its companying, stating “Allergan, Inc. is a multi-specialty health care company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing innovative pharmaceuticals, biologics and medical devices that enable people to live life to its greatest potential — to see more clearly, move more freely, express themselves more fully. Tying back directly to this mission statement is their “insight for life” program that gives developing countries access to medicine and healthcare. So what is a leader based on the qualities expressed by three of America’s top CEO’s? Being a leader is being visionary, being communicative, being insightful, being clever, being open-minded, being persistent, being motivating, being smart, being hard-working and most of all, being caring and compassionate to those around you.
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