According to high-tech recruiter Colleen Aylward, how a founding CEO and how a second CEO approach running a business differ greatly -- and for good reason.
Although they carry the same title, founding CEOs and second or long-term CEOs have unique characteristics, according to Colleen Aylward, president and founder of Devon James Associates Inc., a Seattle-based high-tech recruiting-and-placement firm. Most notably, a second CEO needs to have a proven track record of building and growing businesses. From her experience, Aylward offers the differences between the two kinds of CEO -- characteristics that help determine whether a business reaches the next level or not.
Typical Founding CEO Characteristics
Second CEO or Long-Term CEO Characteristics
Passion and energy
Passion and energy
Narrow and riveted focus -- owner of "the dream"
Long-term exit-strategy focus, knowing that he/she must leave a stable, profitable company behind
Eyes on personal-wealth exit strategy -- worries about personal funds
Deep operational-profit focus with an eye on responsibility for shareholder value -- worries about that and his/her reputation in the business world
Fingers in every part of the business -- desire for total control
Desire to establish a management team in each department that will take the company forward
Desire to build something out of nothing
Track record of building a company from initial-funding stages to sustained growth and profitability
Desire to build teams from scratch
Ability to reorganize teams to make most effective use of their talents
Desire to establish and nurture a corporate culture from scratch
Enhanced corporate culture in his/her own likeness with the aim of increasing shareholder value
Confidence in a vision that is nothing more than a vision
Validated vision, achieved by surrounding him/herself with experts who quantify and drill down on every aspect of the business
Willingness to take huge risks
Understanding of the calculated risks that the company can take -- readiness to take the business to the next level using solid information and the right talent
Knowledge that burn-out will deplete his/her effectiveness in two to three years
Steps taken to avoid burnout, especially surrounding him/herself with a strong executive team that takes ownership of their departments