How Do You Decide Which Co-founder Should Be CEO?

How Do You Decide Which Co-founder Should Be CEO

What a CEO does and what skills you need to become one.

For young startups, where the founders are usually CEOs, you might come across the thought of hiring someone outside the company when your business and workload begins to grow. This is exactly the case in the movie The Intern, when fashion startup founder Jules (starred by Anne Hathaway) was asked by the investors to give up her post of CEO to someone outside the company, as she seemed constantly overwhelmed by the surging workload accompanied by the rapid expansion of the startup. So, what does a founder and a CEO mean to the company? Are they always the same person? 

If you are thinking of starting your own company, you need to understand the differences between a co-founder and a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Job titles matter, and you need to organize your company hierarchy in the smartest way possible to ensure that your company can be run efficiently and successfully.

What does a founder or co-founder do?

The founder is the person who established the business in the first place. If there is more than one founder, they are co-founders. They are the visionaries and are future-oriented. Being in charge of the big picture, they come up with the idea for a company and are responsible for setting it up. They secure funding, acquire talents, assemble the core team for the company and set up the resources needed for the company to succeed. Founders of a business always remain the same, even after they leave.

Every company has a founder, but not every founder becomes the CEO. Some founders eventually become CEOs, but the skills and responsibilities required of a CEO are significantly different from those of the co-founder. 

What does a CEO do?

The CEO is the highest-ranking executive in the company. They oversee the company’s strategic management, make major corporate decisions and have supervisory authority over the employees of the company, making sure that the company’s long-term objectives can be achieved. In small companies, CEOs often have to be more hands-on and supervise the day-to-day operations of the company. 

They are often the public face of the company, and, because of frequent dealings with the media, many will become international household names, such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Steve Jobs.

What qualities should a CEO have?

Having the right leader in place will inspire confidence and propel the company forward. It is crucial to pick the right person for the role. 

The CEO should be sociable and engaging. As they have a public-facing role, they need to have the ability to face the world. They should be natural and confident communicators, no matter to investors, the board of directors or to the media. They should have the public speaking skills and charisma to share the company’s objectives with investors and the public. 

The CEO must be willing to make big decisions and be able to do so with speed and conviction. Even when facing uncertainties and incomplete information, they have to be decisive and be quick on the mark. According to Harvard Business Review, a bad decision is better than a lack of decision. It is because most decisions can be undone, but one has to move with the right amount of speed. Once a path has been chosen, CEOs have to press ahead without wavering.

CEOs should be flexible and adaptable. As the marketplace and company evolve, they should be willing and be able to change too. They need to be comfortable adopting new operating procedures, trying new technologies and ceding control to others when necessary. Highly flexible CEOs should be aware of future challenges as early as possible and make strategic movies ahead of the curve.

Not all co-founders are well-equipped enough to become the CEO for the next phase of company growth. Identifying which of your co-founding team members are CEO-material must, therefore, be done meticulously.

 Header image courtesy of Unsplash

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