The quality of a CEO can make or break a company. At the same time, however, determining the precise value of a CEO's contribution to his or her company is easier said than done. That's where Chiefist.com, a new member-based service, comes in. It analyzes data on CEO compensation and company performance and then ranks companies according to management quality. What follows, in turn, is the third in a series of three Chiefist screens aimed at identifying the 10 best CEOs over the past decade.

In our first screen, we looked at the best CEOs according to share-price appreciation. In the second screen, we looked at the best CEOs according to market-capitalization growth. And in this screen, we'll look at the S&P 500's 10 best CEOs according to Chiefist's Business Value Enhancement Metric.

The BVEM is the creme de la creme of Chiefist's proprietary ranking formulas. Unlike the previous two screens, which focused on single metrics, the BVEM incorporates multiple quantifiable metrics of value creation in order to provide a more thorough picture of executive performance. Among other things, an executive's BVEM score includes margin expansion, earnings-per-share growth, return on equity, and growth in book value.

So without further ado:

Rank

CEO

Company

Industry

2010 
Compensation

BVEM 
Score

1 Steve Jobs* Apple IT Hardware $1 2.55
2 Tim Solso Cummins
(NYSE: CMI)
Heavy
Equipment
$9,111,727 9.20
3 John McAdam F5 Networks
(Nasdaq: FFIV)
IT Hardware $8,884,962 15.20
4 Michael Mussallem Edwards
Lifesciences

(NYSE: EW)
Health-Care
Equipment
$5,829,018 16.35
5 John Martin Gilead Sciences
(Nasdaq: GILD)
Pharmaceuticals/
Biotechnology
$14,244,388 17.60
6 Lew Frankfort Coach
(NYSE: COH)
Apparel,
Accessories,
and Luxury
Goods
$13,739,110 19.35
7 J. Brett Harvey CONSOL Energy
(NYSE: CNX)
Metals
and Mining
$20,157,821 19.35
8 Michael McCallister Humana
(NYSE: HUM)
Insurance $6,147,917 19.35
9 Jeff Bezos Amazon.com E-Commerce $1,681,840 25.35
10 Merrill Miller National Oilwell
Varco
Energy
Exploration
$9,250,871 25.55

Source: Chiefist.com.  
*Although Steve Jobs is no longer Apple's CEO, I deemed it appropriate to include him on the list.

Foolish bottom line
Although our mission here at The Motley Fool is to "educate, amuse, and enrich," we often learn as much from readers as all of you do from us. So let me know what you think about Chiefist's rankings by leaving a comment in the box below. And as a final note, I invite you to check out a free report that we recently released detailing 11 rock-solid dividend stocks that will stuff your mailbox with fat dividend checks each quarter in the years to come. Access this free report while it's still available.

Fool contributor John Maxfield, J.D., owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Coach, National Oilwell Varco, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Coach, Amazon.com, Apple, Cummins, Gilead Sciences, and National Oilwell Varco, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.