Leadership

Here are 5 leaders who support the most powerful CEOs in the US

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Bloomberg | Getty Images

There aren't many iconic companies out there for which the second-in-command leader, such as a chief operating officer, makes a name for him or herself apart from the chief executive officer.

Facebook COO and "Lean In" author Sheryl Sandberg is one of the few. Her business acumen and life advice have allowed her to create a personal brand distinct from her boss Mark Zuckerberg and launched her name into conversations worldwide.

While CEOs hold much of the media attention due to the weight of their responsibilities, hiring consulting company Topgrading gathered a list of the executives who support the CEOs of 25 American companies.

Based on this year's annual Fortune 500 list, which collectively represent two-thirds of the U.S. GDP, here are the five executives from Topgrading's list who made it into the top 10 companies.

Greg Foran, president and CEO of Wal-Mart U.S., shared the book "The Good Jobs Strategy" with his boss Doug McMillon (CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.), which McMillon then shared as one of his six most inspiring reads in 2016.

When announcing Jeff Williams' promotion, Apple CEO Tim cook said, "Jeff is hands-down the best operations executive I've ever worked with. The Wall Street Journal called Williams a "longtime trusted lieutenant." Of course, Cook himself was once the No.2 to Steve Jobs, one of the most recognizable figures in business, before the Apple founder stepped down from his role as CEO in 2011 due to illness.

Interestingly, most of the executives on Topgrading's list of 25 second-in-command business leaders work in tech-related fields, have been at their respective companies for at least 20 years and completed an undergraduate or graduate degree from Harvard.

Since Berkshire Hathaway executives Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett met in 1959, the duo has been vocal about the importance of friendship, especially their own.

"We've had so much fun in our partnership over the years," Buffett tells CNBC in a joint interview with Munger, who calls their partnership "almost hilarious, it's been so much fun."

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