Reuben Mark

By: Mick Yates

He actively shuns executive celebrity, preferring that the credit should go to his employees. That rara avis, a CEO who has remained loyal to one company, he has focused the company on its core business.

Twenty years ago, Colgate was overshadowed by Procter and Gamble in several product lines. By not attempting to compete in all areas, Colgate has overtaken its rival in the core toothpaste category and established a leading global market position. A popular, hands-on leader, Mark encourages innovation in his employees, and pushes constant incremental improvements in Colgate's products.

With earnings growing at an annual rate of around 12%, his style of leadership is clearly a success. Focus on what is important, bring the people with you, and stay in the background - good tips.

Zoë Williams