By Jennifer Reingold, senior editor
FORTUNE -- Sydney Finkelstein knows from bad leaders. A professor of strategy and leadership at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, he literally wrote the book on CEO flops (Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes).
Since 2010, he's used his expertise to put out a year-end list of the five worst CEOs of the year. He provided Fortune an early look, as well as, for the first time, a "Best" ranking. To choose his winners and losers, Finkelstein screens a variety of financial metrics, including stock price, cash position, and market share. Then he drills down to make sure the CEO was actually responsible for what happened. "That removes companies that have not done well because the whole industry struggled or just because of bad luck," he says. "Then I look at specific strategic decisions." Below, a bit more context on the lucky few from Finkelstein.
Best CEOs of 2013
1. Jeff Bezos, Amazon
2. Akio Toyoda, Toyota
3. Pony Ma, Tencent (China)
4. John Idol, Michael Kors
5. Reed Hastings, Netflix
On Jeff Bezos: "For Bezos, everything is extreme. His long-term focus is unbelievable, as is his focus on customers. Coming up with the drone story the day before Cyber Monday, how good is that? And he is attracting the best MBA candidates, even though there's nothing inherently sexy about the core of what they do."
On Pony Ma: "What I really like is that he started off in a PC-based business. Two years ago he decided that the company needed to focus on mobile so he created WeChat for mobile. There's nothing comparable to that in the world."
On John Idol: "He has a lot of experience in the industry, running Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren. Michael Kors was struggling and near bankruptcy for years. Kors is a great designer but doesn't know anything about business. Idol and his partners bought the company for a small amount, and it has an $11 billion valuation now. They brought world-class strategic marketing to a company that never had it and made the decision to focus on accessible luxury."
Worst CEOs of 2013
1. Eike Batista, EBX/OGX/OSX (Brazil)
2. Ron Johnson, J.C. Penney
3. Thorsten Heins, Blackberry
4. Eddie Lampert, Sears Holdings
5. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft
On Ron Johnson:
"He came from Apple and felt like he's the guy who built the store, but it was Steve Jobs' idea. He adopted the Apple principles for how retail should work, but at Apple those were branded products that people are dying to get. It didn't fit their customer class. He didn't really respect the product and the brand."
On Eddie Lampert:
"Since when is it a good idea to buy back stock at a high price? He's just trying to strip Sears as much as he can."
On Thorsten Heins:
"Blackberry was dealt a tough hand, but he didn't help it at all. The first thing he said was that no drastic changes were needed. There's a totally obvious crisis, and that's what you say? He was a very ineffective communicator. And then he was unable to make a deal."
Agree with Finkelstein's list? Share your top and bottom five below.
Simulating real-world scenarios, and talking about what went wrong, can vastly improve performance.
By Geoff Colvin, senior editor-at-large
FORTUNE -- Just back from Orlando, where I was touring the world's largest trade show of simulation and training technology for the military. It's all based on the same central idea: helping warfighters learn critical skills -- piloting a fighter jet, treating injuries on the battlefield, shooting bad guys who are holding hostages, MOREDec 9, 2013 3:04 PM ET
Seasonal assaults, perpetrated by a small minority of settlers, have become a perennial problem for Palestinian farmers.Dec 9, 2013 11:02 AM ET
Great leaders display a paradoxical combination of personal humility and professional will, channeling their energy, drive, creativity, and discipline into something larger and more enduring than themselves.Dec 9, 2013 10:12 AM ET
Despite his flaws, and perhaps because of them, we find there is much more to late Nelson Mandela, and it all hinges on how we define great leadership.Dec 6, 2013 4:04 PM ET
Companies are taking non-compete agreements to a whole new level, asking employees to sign away the rights to all their ideas -- past, present, and future.Anne Fisher, contributor - Dec 6, 2013 9:21 AM ET
The visionary media entrepreneur, diviner of virality, and one-time enfant terrible (he turns 40 on New Year's Day) explains the mechanics of how information spreads, his personal reading habits, and why it's dangerous to be a slave to the numbers.
By Andy Serwer, managing editor
FORTUNE -- People in the media industry are buzzing about entrepreneur Jonah Peretti, and it's not just his latest venture, BuzzFeed, that has them talking. The Huffington MOREDec 5, 2013 4:49 PM ET
Supporting the latest wave of fast-food worker wage protests may not boost SEIU's membership rolls, but it keeps the union -- and its causes -- front and center.
FORTUNE -- When thousands of fast-food workers form picket lines Thursday in 120 cities across the country, the purple and yellow placards of the Service Employees International Union will likely poke out from the crowd.
The largest union in the country has made it MOREClaire Zillman, reporter - Dec 5, 2013 2:38 PM ET
Listening is the most powerful method to persuade others to join your cause. No one knows this better than hostage negotiators.Dec 5, 2013 12:31 PM ET
Padmasree Warrior says leaders should have bold visions but an appreciation for the details -- and they also need to simplify complex situations in order to solve their core issues.
FORTUNE -- Cisco System's (CSCO) Chief Technology and Strategy Officer Padmasree Warrior may help the company navigate the competitive digital networking sector, but she also has her hands in the retail industry. In September, Warrior became a director at Gap Inc. MOREColleen Leahey, Reporter - Dec 5, 2013 11:59 AM ET
|Don't fight it. Bitcoin has a bright future|
|"The Hobbit" dispute sparks lawsuit|
|Teen millionaire helping Yahoo become cool again|
|Five things you didn't know about Bernie Madoff's epic scam|
|Stocks falter as budget deal raises taper risk|