Updated: Nov 16, 2022
Recently I've been seeing more and more co-ceo roles popping up or seeing people in organizations who share the co-ceo role with another person.
In my opinion, it's a terrible idea.
I have experience! Not from being a co-ceo myself but effectively making two people co-CEOs of a project they were leading.
It seemed like a great idea because they both had strengths but also both needed some support to do the role.
"Why not get them both to do it as a shared role?!" I thought to myself.
Everything went well at first but soon I started to see cracks appear.
There were lots of issues: miscommunication, people not sure who to go to, planning and project management issues…
But the nail in the coffin was the two months I spent trying to create accountability and authority for these two people sharing a role.
It was so much harder than it needed to be and the whole project stalled until there was only one person leading it rather than the two.
This issue comes down to a lack of clarity. Clarity is a leader’s best friend and anything that undermines clarity and creates ambiguity is dangerous.
If you’re in a co-CEO position then my advice would be to push 1,000x harder than normal to achieve clarity. If you can get really clear on who owns what etc then it may work.
But for anyone tossing up creating a co-CEO role, don’t do it!
In nature I can’t think of any organisms which have multiple heads. Maybe I’m wrong!
One head is best.
Go and appoint one head of your organization, give them clarity and make sure accountability and authority sit with them.
And watch everything get much easier than trying to deal with co-CEOs.