Author and investor William Thorndike recently wrote a book looking at eight CEOs who outdid the S&P 500. In this video, John Reeves looks at what distinguished these CEOs. One characteristic: decentralized operations. CEOs like Warren Buffett allow managers to do their jobs without micro-managing them. These top CEOs also are frugal and don't spend a lot on themselves. They also tend to be skeptical and avoid the limelight. Perhaps, most importantly, exceptional CEOs don't follow the crowd. They make their own decisions without influence from Wall Street.  Some companies that Thorndike recommends are Leucadia National (NYSE:LUK) and Markel Corporation (NYSE:MKL). Thorndike also likes Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) as a great example of a company doing its own thing and with a healthy disregard for Wall Street experts.

John Reeves owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Berkshire Hathaway, and Markel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Berkshire Hathaway, and Markel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.