...and so should the one you work for.
There are incredible CEOs in Silicon Valley. Men and women who have envisioned ideas, built teams, and executed to make those ideas reality and change the world. I’ve personally worked for, consulted with, and am friends with a number of them. Not everyone will be able to do what they do. That’s just reality. However, over the years I’ve picked up on five key traits the great ones possess, also known as the ones you should be working for.
Great CEOs have their eye on one thing: the company.
2. Scared sh**less
Yes, you want your CEO to be confident. However, there is a certain magic about a CEO who shows the right amount of vulnerability no matter how many companies he or she has sold or how many leadership positions he or she has held. It’s a vulnerability that conveys that they will do everything in their power to make sure the company doesn’t fail. When you think about it, running a startup is absolutely terrifying. You’ve taken other people’s money, employees have trusted you, and everyone is counting on you to make it a success. No pressure!
No, this doesn’t mean they are shallow, and it doesn’t mean they are sending the board deck to the entire company. It means they are honest about where the company is headed, what it has done well, and how it’s going to fix what it’s screwed up. Great CEOs don’t incite panic when things go wrong, but rather have honest conversations with team members about the present, and more importantly, the future.
4. Able to relinquish control
It’s imperative that a CEO know what’s happening within their own company. However, the best ones know that building a successful company requires hiring people who are smarter than they are and can do the job better than they ever could. I’ve watched CEOs who are unable to relinquish control bring a company and product down. Great leaders trust the people they’ve hired to execute, and in turn, employees’ trust in those leaders' strengths.
By this I don’t just mean capital, I mean invested in the growth of the company and its team. The best leaders I’ve worked with have always made me feel like they are invested in my growth. They want me to be the absolute best I can be because when I grow, the company grows. People want to feel like they are working on things that matter, and there is no better person to convey that better than the CEO. When the CEO stops caring, it’s hard to get everyone else to keep caring.
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Kacie Gonzalez is a Silicon Valley veteran and has held roles ranging from co-founder to VP Business Development at several San Francisco startups.