Do Entrepreneurs Make Good CEOs?

Some businesses are so closely held that the management team can have almost ‘group think’ on issues. This can create blind spots and limit objectivity. Leaders need a "sounding board" for their ideas.

In the role of CEO, it is often difficult to find a supportive and secure environment to confidentially share ideas and thoughts for input. 

Our CEO syndicate program provides the opportunity to share real business issues and draw on a range a perspectives and experience from members. 

It is always enlightening and enriching when our CEO Institute members engage in a group discussion. The depth and breadth of knowledge, experience and diversity demonstrated by members in this forums is more than impressive.

Recently, members were canvassing whether entrepreneurs can make decent CEOs.  There were polarizing opinions.   As the discussion unfolded though, there were a few common thoughts:

  1. It is not a given that an entrepreneur can transform into a CEO purely because they started a business. It is one thing to start a company, get it off the ground and achieve initial product success. It's another thing entirely to grow that business profitably in a competitive market. It's a completely different job requiring completely different capabilities. Entrepreneurs don’t necessarily encompass the skill set to be a CEO.
  2. Often entrepreneurs like to micro-manage everything, and prefer to do everything themselves. As the business grows, they still want to keep their fingers in every decision, and become spread too thin. Worse, they tend to have trouble keeping good managers who refuse to be tightly managed. Entrepreneurs need to transition out of the start-up micro-management phase if they want the business to grow.
  3. Entrepreneurs often have their company’s vision and mission in their head, but they don’t articulate it to their people. An entrepreneur needs to become an empowering leader to be a successful CEO.  They need to align the organization with their vision, mission and values and involve employees in the process.
  4. Entrepreneurs are, by nature, creators. They like to make things, to build things. But things don't always work out as planned. And if their products fail to gain customer traction or competitive technology disrupts their market, entrepreneurs often resist trimming or shutting down what they created. They're great at starting projects, but not so great at killing them. To transition from an entrepreneur to a CEO, there must be a willingness to make hard choices.


There are plenty of examples of CEOs that have been able to transition successful from entrepreneur, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sir Richard Branson to name the most obvious ones, but there are more examples of where it simply has not worked. 

For over 24 years, The CEO Institute has been assisting business leaders to take their business to higher levels. Members connect with like-minded leaders in a supportive, secure environment and build a wider network of personal and business contacts. Membership of The CEO Institute is by invitation only.  To register your interest in becoming a member, click here.

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