The 2017 Executive Excellence Awards: John J. Legere

President and CEO, T-Mobile US

January 16, 2017

Gianni Truzzi

T-Mobiles CEO doesnt mince words, and when John Legere took the helm in 2012, he didnt make a lot of friends. At an early press conference, he vowed to redefine a stupid, broken and arrogant industry. It might have sounded like an empty boast at the time. Legere had taken over a weak, fourth-place wireless provider that was expected, even by its German owners, to fail. But he believed many people were fed up with dominant Verizon and AT&T, which he called an entitled, excess-profit-driven group that didnt really have to care about their customers. Legere drew that conclusion from listening, sitting in on customer service calls to learn the most common complaints. He also actively queried T-Mobile employees, who were down on the companys prospects yet still proud of the culture and the brand. Facing strong competition, he concluded, If I could be the exact opposite of what they were doing, we could succeed. Legere transformed T-Mobile into an uncarrier, eliminating service contracts and data overages, introducing free roaming in 100 countries, and streaming music and video free of charge. Other carriers have had to follow suit. T-Mobile is now the countrys third-largest provider, having grown from 33 million customers to 70 million on Legeres watch. Sales have climbed from $24 billion in 2013 to $32 billion last year, and net income rocketed from $35 million to $733 million. The companys stock price has risen from a 2012 low of $12 to a recent high of $55. The trick to getting those results, says Legere, is simple: Listen to your customers. Listen to your employees. Shut the f— up and do what they tell you.