Ricardo Semler

Champion of radical, employee-friendly corporate democracy.


Ranked #37 in 2005.

Previous positions:

#36 (2003). 


Featured among Time’s Global 100 young leaders, 1994.


Named Brazilian businessman of the year, 1990 and 1992.


Semler transformed his vision of radical, employee-friendly corporate democracy into reality during his 40 years as CEO of Semco. He argues that better workplaces can be created by fostering a culture that encourages people to question why we do things the way we do, and by devolving power to employees. In short, he says, this is how we create companies where productivity and employee satisfaction go hand in hand. Years of successful deployment of his principles at Semco led to the formulation of a theoretical framework to help train, educate, and facilitate companies to start their own transformations towards self-organization and democracy.


Professor of leadership at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and visiting scholar at Harvard Law School, Semler’s story began when he took over his father’s manufacturing business, Semco, in the 1980s, and began a transformation that scaled the company from 90 to 5,000 employees. In 2002, he created the “Lumiar” methodology to transform education around the world. In 2016, The Semco Style Institute (SSI) began operations in the Netherlands and has since been shaping the future of work by helping organizations create more impact and perform better with happier, engaged employees.


Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace (Random House Business, 1993); The Seven-Day Weekend: A Better Way to Work in the 21st Century (Random House Business, 2001).


Media picks


“The original management maverick.”

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50

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