We had an interesting discussion in a practice strategy meeting last week. What do people who lead businesses call themselves? Business leader or Owner? Founders or CEO? Perhaps by trade such as engineer, “in retail” or more broadly “Director.” Does anyone call themselves an Entrepreneur and does it even matter anyway?
With my coaching hat on, I think it does matter. As leaders of a business, we are required to split our time appropriately between three different requirements: The Technical (producing or servicing), managerial (organising) and entrepreneurial (planning and development.) Some titles lean favourably towards one specifically, potentially neglecting other areas of the business.
Many business leaders refer to themselves as founder or CEO. Knowing when to think like a founder and when to think like a CEO can make a distinct difference to fundamental behaviours and decision making. Often used interchangeably, the roles of a CEO and a founder are different, and require different mindsets.
As a founder, you're likely to be highly focused on the creative & early development aspect of the company. You may be heavily involved in the day-to-day operations and be very hands-on. You may be willing to take on more risk and make bolder moves.
As a CEO, you're responsible for overseeing operations and managing resources. You're likely to be more focused on the bottom line, ensuring that the company is growing and staying competitive in the market. You may be more risk-averse than a founder, as your responsibility is to maintain the stability and longevity of the company.
Ultimately, the best approach is likely to be a blend of both mindsets, particularly bearing in mind that a CEO can be a responsibility to shareholders other than themselves. I encourage founders to be accountable to an imaginary or quasi board. Such accountability can come into its own when following through on delivery and meeting of targets, particularly financial, which may easily be cast aside when a founders’ only responsibility might be to themselves.
Shifting goal posts or under performance may be all too easily excused and can seriously stifle progression when stuck in a founders mindset with no one else suffering from lack of progress.
As a CEO, it's important to stay connected to the company's vision and mission and to be willing to take calculated risks to achieve its goals, whilst maintain a focus on value, ensuring that the company is growing and thriving over the long term.
So how about you? How would you describe your “job” title? And does it make a difference to your approach when leading your business? Has this given you food for thought? I’m intrigued to know!