Why good founders are not always becoming good CEOs?

Nelli Orlova
1 reply
Hi everyone! I just explored the "discussions" thing in Product Hunt and want to try it out, bringing on the table the topic recently raised in quora threads. The quora author formulated it differently "Why founders often fail as CEOs". I believe my question is more relevant here because I don't see that they "often fail". At the same time, I can't ignore the fact that there are many differences between being founder and CEO in a startup and executing a CEO role in a scale-up. I could think of 3 main reasons why some founders should step away from CEO position once a company grows. 1. Founders are often emotionally attached to their startup, used to knowing every small aspect of it, and get involved in each step, process and task. In the beginning, it is good, but when the company grows, a CEO should delegate most of the things he kept under control and start focusing more on high-level decisions and strategic processes, without even touching the small processes. Not everyone can do it. Very often founders get stuck on micromanagement and small things and therefore, can’t fulfill the CEO responsibilities for the growing company. 2. Same with the team. The small startup teams are usually like a family, but when they grow, not every member of that “family” can grow with the company together. CEO has to hire many new people and manage a bigger team objectively, create subordination and hierarchy, make firing-hiring decisions according to the value person brings to the company. This is also a hard task for the founders who often don’t know how to switch from a “family mode” and implement the processes, necessary for large teams. 3. Founders are often creators, as it is said, those crazy people who can generate crazy ideas on how to turn the mountains upside down and make a business out of it. But when a company grows from a startup to a scale-up, the startup CEO role should not be about creativity anymore. It’s all about processes, administration, management and execution. Not every good startup founder can be a good CEO, because it simply requires a different character type. In such cases, it is better to hire a more suitable person for a CEO role, while the founder can continue creating and implementing ideas in another role. I'd love to listen to your opinions on that. What do you think?


Abhishek Singh
Unfortunately many end up getting fired by their boards, so usually the founder is not the CEO for a larger, late stages of the company. Some factors that could come in the way would be - Adherence to the original vision, execution lags, high empathy for team retention independent of future skill-fit, and inability to open slots for great execs to come and lead the show can prevent founders from becoming highly successful at many of the places.