What do I want in a new CEO?

Dear Aunty B,

I am the founder of a successful business and I realised after Christmas when it was time to return to work that it was time to quit. While I still love the company I don’t have the interest and passion that I used to build our company.

We have now grown to the size where we are preparing to take on some very large corporates. To do that we need to put processes and logistics in place and that stuff bores the crap out of me. We also need to make a lot more profit and I am the type that spends to invest in growth.

I have led this business for eight years and I think it is going to come as a huge blow to my board and staff that I plan to leave. Do you or your readers have any suggestions as to how I can announce it and should I get the CEO in place before I tell my staff or after?


Dear A,

Yes, I answered you yesterday and I promised that I would give you the list drawn up by Jeffrey Hollander, co-founder of Seventh Generation, about the qualities he wanted in a new CEO.

He had three sub heads: essential, important and nice.

Essential qualities include:

  • Committed to the mission
  • Good chemistry with the company’s values
  • Experience growing an organisation
  • Demonstrated strategic planning abilities
  • Vision
  • The capacity for self-reflection
  • Self-motivation
  • Leadership capabilities
  • Lack of ego

Important qualities include:

  • Committed to corporate social responsibility.
  • A clear understanding of the company’s markets and goals.

Nice to have qualities include:

  • High level of curiosity.
  • Openness to different business models and ideas.

Okay, I hear you ask: what would I change or add?

To the essential list I would add: Demonstrated success growing revenue and profits.

I would also elevate “high level of curiosity” to the essential list. It is curiosity that drives people to study the marketplace and see how things are changing plus delve down into customer’s needs to see what future products they want.

In the “nice to have”, I would add great communication skills and social intelligence.

But all in all it’s a pretty good list!

Good luck!
Your Aunty B

To read more Aunty B advice, click here.

Email your questions, problems and issues to auntyb@smartcompany.com.au right now!


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