Why Employees Like Zuckerberg (and Other Popular CEOs)

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, speaks with journalists at Facebook headquarters. Photograph by Noah Berger/Bloomberg

Apparently Mark Zuckerberg isn’t liked just among his 17 million followers on Facebook. Of nearly 200,000 CEOs reviewed in the past year on job site Glassdoor.com, Facebook’s chief executive had the highest employee approval rating on the latest rankings of 50 CEOs, at 99.3 percent. Not coincidentally, Facebook also ranked as the best place to work on Glassdoor.

Rounding off the five highest-rated chief executives: software company SAP’s Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe (98.6 percent), McKinsey’s Dominic Barton (97 percent), Ernst & Young’s Jim Turley (96 percent), and John Schlifske of Northwestern Mutual (96 percent). (Dan Doctoroff, the CEO of Bloomberg Businessweek parent Bloomberg LP ranked No. 34 on the list.)

While Facebook’s offices burst with love for their leader, investors might have a different view. Despite strong fourth-quarter results, the company’s stock price is down about 30 percent since its IPO in May 2012. As a majority of Zuckerberg’s wealth is tied to the stock, his own net worth fell about $6.3 billion in that time, according to data from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Sam Hamadeh, head of research firm PrivCo, told the Los Angeles Times in August that the young exec “is in over his hoodie as CEO of a multibillion-dollar public company.”

Glassdoor spokesman Scott Dobroski says the ranking, released March 15, reflects employees’ confidence in leadership, which is not always tied directly to financial results. Rather, it indicates employees’ belief that the company is being led in the right direction, that the CEO has a clear vision of the future, and that the vision and plan to achieve it are clearly communicated. It also suggests a general view that the CEO is a good motivator, personal, approachable, and accessible.

“Mark Zuckerberg is famous for not even having his own office. He sits in the open seating area along with every single other employee, and they see him in a regular bathroom as they would anyone,” Dobroski says. How accessible, indeed.

The ranking is based on employee response to the question: “Do you approve of the way your CEO is leading the company?” between Feb. 25, 2012, and Feb. 24, 2013. Glassdoor verified that the reviews came from real employees through technological checks of e-mail addresses and through screenings by a content management team. Only CEOs that received at least 100 reviews in that period and 40 reviews the previous 12 months were considered for the list.