Taste for Leadership – Ken Powell, CEO of General Mills Inc.

Ken Powell, CEO of General Mills, is often photographed with a smile. This could be because the company recently posted a profit gain of 12 percent. Or maybe the smile is due to the fact Powell achieved something that many leaders and politicians dream about – a 100 percent approval rating.

Sure, working for the man in charge of Cheerios, Betty Crocker, and Wheaties may not seem as glamorous as working for the man behind the iPhone and iPad, but according to the ratings from Glassdoor.com, Ken Powell beats out Apple’s Steve Jobs as the most popular boss in America.


Powell’s ranking is based on reviews voluntarily posted by employees who answer the question: “Do you approve of the way this person is handling the job of leading the company?” One hundred percent of the General Mills employees who responded said “Yes.”

One employee commented, “Great senior leader that provides clear business priorities and strategies.” Another said, “Keep doing what you’re doing on staying transparent and rewarding a good job when it is due.”

Ken Powell has worked for General Mills since 1979, but has been the CEO of the food company since 2007. People who work with him say he is “thoughtful and reserved.”

It is not just Ken Powell who makes the top of rankings. Fortune Magazine ranks General Mills as one of the 100 best companies to work for, and Business Week ranks the company as one of the best places to launch a career.

Powell said he believes the company’s positive reputation is measured by these components: employee recruitment and retention, brand recognition, and even stock price multiples.

“But in the end, we believe the most important measure is trust,” he said. “General Mills constantly strives to remain worthy of the trust of our customers, consumers, employees, investors, and communities.”

General Mills also earns high marks for investing time in turning good managers into great managers. All employees, including Ken Powell, create an “Individual Development Plan” that maps out their personal development goals for the year. Employees are also encouraged to become leaders in philanthropy efforts, which Powell noted, “it is one of the most powerful things that we do.”

It’s not hard to figure out why General Mills is so respected – the company continues to grow, and is also focused on an open and collaborative environment as well as leadership development.

Sources: Forbes.com, Fortune Magazine, Business Week, Harris Interactive

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