Want your company to outperform? Get the right CEO—and don’t let go.
When John Chambers announced he would step down from this post as Cisco’s CEO earlier this week, he was one of the longest-serving execs in the country. His 20-year tenure is made all the more remarkable by the average for the rest of the Fortune 500 chiefs: a measly 6.9 years. But even Chambers’ run can’t compete with some of the other Fortune 500 veterans. Nine executives in the 500 have held the top spot for more than 30 years, and two for more than 50.
Here, with the help of FactSet Research, we compiled a list of the longest-serving CEOs in the Fortune 500 and calculated their average annual returns. It turns out that, at least in these cases, wisdom really does come with experience: During their tenures, the stocks of all but five of the 14 companies outpaced the S&P—15 if John Chambers had stuck around.