There is an age-old dilemma out there, which all entrepreneurs will come across at some point in their career: To be, or not to be... the CEO, that is the question!
When envisioning the ideal CEO, undoubtedly many images come to mind: A charismatic persuader, a visionary, a multi-tasker, a passionate leader. The real world expectations of a CEO can be so varied and so all-encompassing, that it can be a daunting hat to consider.
Some entrepreneurs tackle this issue with the notion that they are obligated to lead their company from the CEO chair, while others will avoid the title at any cost. These stances are seldom the result of any actual measure of their own abilities, but rather from pre-conceived notions of what is expected of a Chief Executive Officer, and what skills they assume are needed to effectively assume the role.
To add a dose of empirical data to the conversation, venture capitalist Seth Levine has released a rubric that he and his colleagues use when evaluating a CEO. Now that we know what the VCs use when sizing up leaders, it might not be such a bad idea to go through this rubric yourself and see how you'd stack up.
(rate performance on a 1-5 scale, 1 being least favorable and 5 being most favorable; provide support for your rating in the space provided):
Vision: Creates vision and strategy. Communicates vision and strategy both internally and externally.
Leadership: Ensures the support and execution of the vision and strategy by:
1. Establishment and communication of priorities;
2. Driving change for improvement throughout the organization;
3. Team-building; and
4. Creation of high performance environment.
Operating Management: Develops and executes sound long-term and annual business plans in support of approved strategy. Manages operations and resources efficiently and effectively.
Values and Integrity: Maintains consistent values and exemplary conduct. Promotes positive corporate culture to reflect corporate mission statement.
Shareholder/Investor/Financial Community: Serves as chief spokesperson, communicating effectively with shareholders and stakeholders. Is well regarded and respected by investment and financial community.
Strategic Partners: Maintains personal rapport with strategic partners through open, ongoing communications
Human Resources: Ensures the development of effective employee recruitment, training, and plans and programs to provide and motivate the human resources necessary to achieve objectives.
Public Relations: Ensures that the company and its operating units contribute appropriately to the well being of their communities and industries. Represents the company in community and industry affairs.
Board Relations: Works effectively with the Board of Directors to keep them fully informed on all important aspects of the status and development of the Company. Facilitates the Board's governance, compositions, and committee structure. Implements Board policies and recommends policies for Board consideration. Supports a relationship characterized by trust, mutual respect, open communication and responsiveness to feedback. Uses Board meetings effectively.
Financial Results: Financial Results – Establishes appropriate annual and long-term financial objectives and manages to consistently achieve these goals; ensures that appropriate systems are maintained to protect assets and maintain effective control of operations.
As you can see, the criteria for a great CEO (at least in the eyes of these Venture Capitalists) aren't as elusive as many people think. If you've got these skills, you're in good shape. If not, it might be time to start the CEO hiring process.
What do you think about these criteria? Which of these factors are truly the most important? Are there other factors you think are missing?