What are the biggest changes in going from founder to ceo

As a founder transitions to the role of CEO, there are several significant changes they can expect:

  1. Evolving Job Description: The nature of the CEO role and the ways in which they add the greatest value evolve as the company grows. This includes shifts in functional responsibilities, hiring and promoting managers, and dealing with increased public prominence. The CEO's job description is subject to change every six to 18 months, with periods of stability followed by rapid succession of changes. [Three Buckets (On CEO Job Descriptions)]

  2. More Scrutiny: CEOs experience a heightened level of scrutiny in nearly all interactions. Their communication and behavior are constantly assessed, often leading to the need for increased self-monitoring and a balance between authenticity and the energy required for effective connection with others. [Watch That Next Step (CEO Problems)]

  3. Less Feedback: As CEOs, founders receive less direct feedback on their performance. While they may have access to indirect feedback through business metrics, the nature of the feedback from board members and investors is different and often lacks the developmental context they might have received in previous roles. [Watch That Next Step (CEO Problems)]

  4. Very Little Empathy: CEOs often find that there is a lack of empathy for their challenges. People are generally unreceptive to the problems faced by those in power, and CEOs must find alternative sources of support and empathy, such as a "coaching team." [Watch That Next Step (CEO Problems)]

  5. Leading Senior Executives: Founders who become CEOs may lead senior executives for the first time. This involves acknowledging their expertise, treating them as partners, and persuading rather than ordering. CEOs must balance granting autonomy with ensuring accountability for achieving objectives. [Mind the Gap (On Leading Senior Executives)]

  6. Imposing Structure: CEOs must judiciously impose structure as the organization grows. This involves anticipating the organization's evolving needs and implementing new types of structure at the right time to avoid inefficiencies or stifling innovation. [The Judicious Imposition of Structure]

  7. Executive Team Dynamics: The formalization of an executive team allows the CEO to focus their managerial attention on a smaller number of people, enhancing psychological safety and fostering a coherent group identity. This structure can also help manage interpersonal conflict and promote active participation and dissent. [The Judicious Imposition of Structure]

  8. Cultural Shifts: As the company scales, there may be cultural shifts, such as the arrival of senior executives and the evolution of team norms. The CEO can add value by addressing gaps that emerge on the leadership team and ensuring that rules are aligned with desirable norms. [Mind the Gap (On Leading Senior Executives)]

  9. Celebrating Milestones: CEOs may need to overcome a reluctance to celebrate achievements. Celebrations are important for forging group dynamics and helping employees identify with the larger collective, which becomes more critical as the organization grows. [CEOs and Celebrations]

Each of these changes represents a significant shift in responsibilities and expectations as founders take on the CEO role. They must navigate these transitions by reallocating time and attention, developing new skills, and adjusting to the symbolic dimensions of their new role.