How to replace a non performing CEO who happens to be yourself?
I am founder of a business. Have built a great team, brand and product. And that is what I am good at. But though I needed to drive the business forward to this point, I am not qualified to lead the next phase. I need to find the leader who can share my passion - yet have the skills and wherewithal to exceed my own.
I'm just starting my company, but like you I realize there's going to be a point where I will not be the effective leader. At that point, I'm hoping that I can reach into my network of friends and previous colleges and find someone that will effectively drive my company, while still going with my vision. Probably for a time we'll co-lead, until there's some trust. I actually have my ideal candidates picked out.
What is your vision for your business and what do you expect of the new CEO? You need to find someone who shares not just your vision but also your passion, for the business.
I would definitely use an executive search firm. Step back and allow professionals to help you.
You Hire someone like me to take care of the next phase. Choices are difficult to make but one has to do it anyhow. I respect your humility to look out for someone else who can do better than you, most people would feel too proud to give up their position and prefer to mess up projects instead with their messed up ideas.
Hire me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good for you!
Having worked with many early stage/growth stage companies it is very refreshing when I come across a leader who understands that the next stage needs a new set of tools.
The challenges I have seen is that
1) the incoming CEO is not given enough control to really make the changes needed (founder still holds the rains from behind)
2) the incoming CEO may have all the promise but doesn't really know the business
3) Cultural differences and ability for the new CEO and business to adapt to each other
4) The incoming CEO wants to bring a team they are familiar with (but maybe not tooled for your business)
5) Understanding what you really need for the next stage, a well known figure head ? A driver/motivator / an innovator/ an operational expert /marketer/ sales leader / fundraiser ? It all depends on what the next stage is for the business - in short a good CEO should have some experience in all these areas and provide guidance with the strength of character to differ to others when they don't.
One approach that I have seen is to augment your management team with skilled professionals that fill the gaps in your experience/skills, differ to them and let them take the rains - eventually one of them should rise to the top and allow you to step to the side without negatively impacting the business.
Alternatively, let you management team find one - that is if the team is mature/adult enough to do this.
Perhaps you need a break, a vacation, time to get a recharge and clarity. Some meditation classes perhaps?
Maybe you also need to have discussions with like minded people in your field. Find out new perspectives from different angles both from those inside and outside your company. Brainstorming ideas brings out the "spark" or rekindles your wavering faith in your ability.
If and when that fails, maybe it would be the time to do what you just asked. :(
I have seen a few companies that did not do well without their visionary and passionate founders. I would hate to see that happen again.
Donald Trump is clear about the fact that to grow a business you have got to have passion. You mentioned the right word right there and therefore you are completely on the right path. My tip would be to work on one of your inner skills: building a team. You will be able to find the right guy and give him the right responsibilities, first as a project manager and later as a CEO.
My personal experience in acquiring entrepeneur-built businesses is that there is typically strength in both brand and product, but a significant lack (and passion) for infrastructure.
What I would look for in a future CEO would be someone that has a knowledge or aptitude for the market that you serve, understands your business culture (where it is and where it needs to go) and the ability to articulate business strategies that can move the business in the right direction. Most importantly, a track record of execution should be an imperative.
What I would be looking not to do is hire someone that is a lot like you, or someone who comes from a pure consulting background that can put together a good strategy but that has never been tested under fire and has had to deal with when the unexpected becomes the reality.
The next evolution of your business may not quite be in alignment with your vision. You need to find someone you would trust to act in the best interest for the stakeholders, which might mean you have to firewall yourself from disrupting where the business needs to go.
Tom, you sound like you need management training, so you understand exactly what a great manager needs to do, what they need to give you to report their progress and let them take your business to a whole new level, or move yourself in a business development manager role and let them be paid to handle the pressure and grow it. This is exactly what I train business owners to do and have great success doing it for 17 years. :)
Kudos to you. An accurate self assessment of strengths, weaknesses, needs and answering the question "What do I like to do?" is crucial for each phase of a business to be successful. I agree with JC, finding a Level 5 leader is your best option. This could be done through your own personal network or through an executive search company.
Get a Level 5 leader as per suggest in the book "Good to Great" or AAA leader under my management concept. AAA leader is someone who possess the quality of leadership who is capable to bring about good business performances and go beyond self to see "I" as "we" and contribute great benefitical impact even outside the company.
Another way to get a good coach to groom you to be one. I am however not encourage to engage an interim CEO to run the business during the transition period. Another approach is to engage a VP much qualify than you to support you, but he is best to come from management consultant background.
Nothing much I do from Asia, unless you coming to Asia. BTW, you have very interesting products, do you have reseller or integrator in Asia already?