Motsepe even beat President Jacob Zuma, who came in at the bottom end of a top 24 survey.
The results of the leadership survey conducted across South Africa's four largest provinces by the Reputation Institute in the first two months of this year were published in the weekly Business Times.
"Only Patrice Motsepe stands out. He is seen as someone who seems to have filled the Black Economic Empowerment space in an entrepreneurial way," said Dominik Heil, Managing Director of the Reputation Institute.
Motsepe got the thumbs-up reputation rating of almost 65 per cent of the respondents, beating trade union leader Zwelinzima Vavi by 4 per cent.
The outspoken Vavi, despite his Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) being a tri-partite government party with the ANC, often publicly attacks government's failure on especially service delivery and fighting corruption.
Political Analyst Aubrey Matshiqi told the weekly that it was not surprising that the top spot did not go to the head of state as the survey was informed by perceptions that corruption has become endemic in South Africa.
Zuma appeared at number 19 on the list, with a reputation rating of only 36 per cent.
Scoring much better was Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who was placed third by respondents at 60 per cent.
Even opposition Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille was placed ahead of Zuma at sixth with 58 per cent.