Vinod Khosla, founder of Sun Microsystems and famed investor billionaire shared his views on TechCrunch on why the founder of a company is also the best person to be CEO, in an article titled, ‘If, When, And How To Avoid Hiring A CEO’:
Though debated among some venture investors, in my view, it is always better for a founder to grow into being a CEO. When there’s a choice, the founder’s vision, culture, and approach are usually more important than “good management” alone. While I’ll offer some insights for investors, this piece is primarily addressed to the founders themselves. I’ll start with some suggestions for buying time to learn and grow into the CEO role.
Build a team that can support and complement each other
Being supported by a strong, operating-type team will allow you to focus on leading your company’s vision, culture, and performance standards while your team executes. Be willing to hire people who are better than you and who have skills or experience in areas that you don’t.
Make time to evaluate your performance
Honest and informed self-assessment is critical. Foster an open culture that challenges your own view and destroys any tendency toward group-think. Our minds are not as rational as we believe while being quite good at rationalizing what we believe.
You should also get advice from the outside: disinterested, objective help that is tough and critical…It could be an entrepreneur who has seen CEO transitions from the perspective of a board member, with both positive and negative outcomes.
Build an honest relationship with your investors
Open discussion with your board is necessary. If you can’t discuss the company’s needs and risks with them, try to get a new board (or at least try to replace some of them). If you can’t get a new board, you can often change its bias by adding an influential person with the right perspective. When facing challenges with board members, sometimes spending time one-on-one to openly discuss their concerns and reservations is your best route to building a stronger personal relationship and reaching mutual understanding free from the political dynamics of a formal board setting.
Why am I so supportive of founders?
Simply put, the success of a company often hinges on its execution of the founder’s vision. I prefer great vision and bad execution to bad vision and great execution. I firmly believe that staying true to a vision is best achieved by having a founder as CEO.
It is almost always preferable over “hired guns” that can help you execute on the vision but seldom understand it as well and are often too pragmatic.