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Why Founders Make the Best Leaders

Stashed in: Founders, Leadership!, Motivation, Focus!, CEOs

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I just finished reading an article about Steve Jobs' Law in The Atlantic, and the central theme is that

First executives make the best chief executives.

The article cites many studies explaining why founder-CEO's have better long-term focus, and as a result tend to command higher valuations.

Founder-CEO's also are incentivized by things other than money: they're more likely to be innovators who want to change the industries they're in, and change the world for the better.

I agree with this but I do think it is often wise for the founder/CEO to bring more experienced people into the top management team, especially in operational roles, such as Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook. For some jobs, there is no substitute for experience.

But in the end, the CEO's biggest job is to be the personification of the company, and rarely is a professional manager a more inspiring figure in this role than the founder.

Tom, you make a very good point. The best companies are very much a team effort, and founders have to navigate from making the company survive, to making the company thrive.

I was at a Jeff Bezos talk where he said something to the effect that he went from doing the work, to finding the people to do the work, to finding the people who would find the people to do the work. Every step of the way, he needed to figure out how to inspire, motivate, and stay out of the way.

Or to put it another way: the founder is rarely alone; in every meeting he or she is pushing the company and its people further in the direction she or he envisions...


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