A few years ago I sat down with Starbucks founder Howard Schultz in his Seattle office to discuss the challenges of being a CEO. At one stage I asked whether he felt there was a disconnect between the person he would like to be and the persona he needs to project while running a public company. Serving as a CEO, he said, has been difficultand lonely. Yet hed found that it was indeed possible to be values-driven while also winning Wall Streets respect. But the only ingredient that works in this environment is performanceso we have to perform.
Schultz has delivered on both fronts. He has become increasingly progressive, speaking out on topics ranging from presidential politics to gay marriage. And though that might make some shareholders cringe (and others applaud), he has resoundinglyand consistentlycome through for investors. As a result, Schultz has earned a spot (#54) on our list of the 100 best-performing CEOs in the world. Its a varied ranking, whose honorees represent 22 nationalities and countless personal values and styles. Another Seattle-based CEO, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, comes out as #1.