I'm running a $10MM/year (and profitable) direct response company with 18 permanent employees and another 10-20 freelancers. We're based in Eastern Europe and selling to the USA. My core strengths are in marketing and innovation, not in management, planning, organizing. What should we be aware of when trying to bring a CEO to help us grow? Pitfalls? Mistakes we're bound to make? It's our first attempt at this. Thank you!
Without knowing a lot about your company, the fact that innovation is one of your core strengths, leads me to believe that you have a transformational mindset.
There are "Transactional" CEOs and "Transformational" CEOs, and few companies in existence these days will go far (or even exist much longer than 5-10 yrs) without a transformational CEO.
While transactional leadership is needed to maintain the normal flow of operations, transformational leadership is what will help your company evolve, and transform the brilliant innovations you have into competitive advantage and business value.
So ensure your potential CEO can articulate their approach to "business transformation".
Ask them to talk about how they see innovation and digital technologies contributing to business transformation. Ask them to explain how they envisage involving your staff and freelancers in the transformation process, in the company's strategy and to tell you a few stories about how they have already successful done this.
Cultural intelligence is critical, and it is important that your prospective CEO understands the Eastern European business and social culture. I have known too many American execs come to live in Eastern Europe (Prague & Katowice) and work against the culture, and not last very long - with both the company and the country!
Aside from the good free advice you can read around the net from Harvard, McKinsey, etc; I have tried to give you a few recommendations that are particularly relevant to your unique circumstances.
Hiring a CEO for the first time is very important. Especially after you have successfully run this business. Answer can be long based on various assumptions, however some of them I shall cover. Hope its helpful.
- Most importantly, you need to be sure that the new CEO would like to understand your vision and make it possible to grow without changing the organizational DNA which you created.
- Hire a CEO had built a company from certain stage to significantly to an other level.
- Also take help of any good mentor who can really classify your behavior and what helped you to grow business and help you map with new person to complement the skills & Knowledge. Mentor can use various tools to measure and give feedback.
- Have the new person meet your existing best employee or partners. take their view point.
- Don't look for a person like you. Have them with diverse and different view points but can align to your vision.
- Make the important arrangement of pay for performance as much as possible. So that the CEO has a skin in the game.
Don't rush to take a decision. While you do this activity make sure you are running your business as usual.
Thank you and hope to have more conversations on this from the members to learn some more view points.
All the Best.
GR Reddy (GR)
Husys Consulting Limited
Hire complementary strengths and an agency executive who's grown an account from $10 MM to $50 MM or $100 MM. Someone with very strong agency/network relationships who can bring in talent and resources. You need to really get along and stress-test the relationship. There are many risks including taking someone who will take your accounts with him/her if she leaves.
You are effectively hiring your boss.
You want the best boss you could ever dream of. It's your company, so you can do what you want. Furthermore, you hired your people, so if you get along with him/her, so should your people (in theory off course).
Obviously you want someone that understands your proposition, knows the US market and I would say Europe. The more they know, the faster they can get you there.
Last but not least, you want someone commercial and not just a sales person.
I hope this helps, good luck.