CEO Leadership — Taking Power

Big Red Car here in the fabulous ATX. On Earth as it is in Texas, y’all!

So The Boss is talking to one of his brilliant CEOs and they get on the issue of what powers a CEO has and where they are derived from.

It is an interesting chat because the CEO is a new CEO and is feeling his way along a familiar path that The Boss has seen many times before.

You do not “receive” power, you “take” power. [OK, that’s it for today, folks. Take the rest of the day off. Haha, Big Red Car, you’re a jokester.]

The position of CEO, which is the next step for founders after they get comfortable being the founder of an enterprise that is going to change the world or resolve a huge pain point for civilization, is the position of the ultimate power within an organization. It is not a “collaborative” position; it is a leadership position.

The very word “chief” tells us that. Brilliant CEO, you are the CHIEF Executive Officer.

Now, let’s get you there.

Real world implications

CEOs need to negotiate their powers first with themselves, then with their board of directors (if the company is at the stage at which they have a board, if not, then there is nobody with whom to negotiate), then with their team (even if the team is you and three others of whom one is a co-founder), and then with the network in which you operate.

[Wow, Big Red Car, that’s a lot of damn negotiations. Are you sure? Yes, beloved reader, I am sure.]

This negotiation can take the form of a job description (always a good idea but rarely, rarely, rarely done) or an Employment Agreement. When you write it down, you remember it and you avoid the Groundhog Day circular reinvention cycle.

The first negotiation, with yourself, is the hardest for a new CEO to conduct as she rarely knows what to negotiate because she is, understandably, new at this.

There is a solution to this — go talk to a seasoned CEO who has been down this road and pick their brains clean. The Boss has done this many times over the years with peers, professional groups (Young Presidents Organization, The Alternative Board, Vistage) and for the last three years with startup founders/CEOs particularly those in accelerator/incubator programs.

It is truly a negotiation. But, know this — you will have to do it and it will take some time. Just do it.


Some folks are uncomfortable with taking power. We are not talking about seizing a foreign country kind of power, we are talking about the kind of power that sets the Vision for the company. The kind of power that lays out the company’s Values.

The founder/CEO is exclusively responsible for setting the Vision, one half of the Mission (the balance should be the work of management or the team), the Values and the initial Culture of the company.

The entire Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture continuum is overseen by the CEO but the Vision, one half of the Mission, Values and the initial Culture is the exclusive province of the CEO.

This is the kind of power we are talking about. Not conquering a foreign country.

[Pro tip: Once you have set the Vision and Values — you have to LIVE them. They have to be authentic and genuine. Live your Vision. Live your Values!]

Take power, CEOs

Remember — You do not receive power; you take power! Take power, CEOs. It won’t be nearly as scary as you think.

If you get overwhelmed — which will happen — call The Boss and he’ll help you. 512-656-1383/[email protected]

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car! Be good to yourself. You’ve earned it.



One thought on “CEO Leadership — Taking Power

Comments are closed.