Most of my clients are CEOs of growing companies, and a common theme in our work together is the likelihood that their job description will change materially every six to 18 months.

They’ll continue to be CEO, but the nature of the role itself–and more specifically, the ways in which they add the greatest value–will evolve. Further, these shifts typically occur at punctuated intervals–there may be relatively little change for an extended period of time, and then many things will change in rapid succession.

Different factors cause these shifts at different stages of the company’s evolution. Early steps that impact the CEO include the clarification of functional responsibilities among the founding team, hiring the first formal employees, and hiring or promoting the first managers.

Subsequent steps will likely include hiring experienced leaders who want greater latitude in decision-making [1] as well as the establishment of a designated senior leadership team reporting to the CEO.

Still further steps may include the creation of staff roles to support the CEO [2], hiring C-level executives with deeper expertise in their domain than the CEO, or the elevation of “human resources” from a compliance function under an operating leader to a strategic function under the CEO.

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