What a CEO is...

by Manish K. Gupta, PhD, PE, President and CEO

So here are my first thoughts on what a CEO is and whether all the corporate designations are actually warranted.

In my experience thus far, there are two types of CEO’s. One who is an owner and CEO, and one who is hired by a board. When I say owner, let’s just say a founder or cofounder. So the owner CEO has a very different perspective in regard to the firm. They have intimate knowledge and experience of what it took to get to particular level of success.

The hired CEO will never have that experience for a company they did not found. As such they are usually free from the tethers of emotions, which can make them extremely effective in executing initiatives. On the other hand, it can make them singularly minded and uncaring.

The founder CEO is used to doing it all. And finds it hard to let go of many of the controls needed to run the company. When the founder CEO surrounds himself/herself with the right competent and, yes, loyal staff, they can execute and allow the CEO to fulfill their most important role - set a course.

The board CEO will do the same and surround themselves within the c-suite. The difference is that the founder is the one who continues to take the risks almost singularly. The board CEO’s risks are usually limited. They can spread the operational risks among the elite c-suite but seldom will these folks have truly much to lose. The founder CEO has to go through the process of building trust because they usually have everything at stake. The founder CEO will usually nurture staff and take great pains to ensure their success above his or hers. It’s this innate nature to sacrifice that fundamentally separates a founder from a hired gun or guns.

Till next time…