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I’ve recently interviewed 2 joint CEO’s who have been at the helm of a leading disability charity for the last 4 years. It is rare to see job shares in top senior leadership positions, begging the question “why not?”
There are certainly a lot of benefits to job sharing at CEO level, in this article I will talk through these and why it’s worth giving it serious consideration.
Having joint CEO’s can bring a range of benefits to a charity, including increased innovation, better decision-making, and enhanced accountability.
When you have joint CEO’s, you instantly get access to a wider range of skills and expertise. Each CEO will have different strengths which can complement each other and create a more well-rounded leadership team. This can help the charity to better navigate complex challenges and make better decisions.
In the case of the two people I recently interviewed, one cited their key strengths as quick thinking, problem solving, being direct and challenging while the other described themselves as a collaborator, expert communicator, decision maker and relationship builder. One also had a strong service/operational background whilst the other had a strong communication and policy experience. The two supplemented each other perfectly.
With joint CEO’s there can be more creativity and innovation in the organisation. The CEO’s can bounce ideas off each other and come up with new and unique solutions to problems. This can lead to greater innovation.
Similarly, with decision making – having two CEO’s can give more diverse perspective and ideas, leading to more informed decision making. This can help the charity to avoid blind spots and make more strategic decisions.
Never more was this borne out when the two described how they’d approached their organisational response to COVID - the charity was under greater pressure than it ever had been before. Together they identified areas of cost cutting and change – they implemented initiatives which led to a new suite of services which have proven to be highly impactful and led to improved community engagement way beyond pre-covid times. Together they were highly agile and effective.
Having joint CEO’s can create a sense of shared responsibility and accountability. Each CEO can hold the other accountable for their actions and decisions, which can help ensure that the company is being run in a responsible and ethical way.
With joint CEO’s there can be more effective communication within the organisation. The CEO’s can share information and ideas more easily, leading to a more cohesive and collaborative team.
When I asked if employees were ever confused as to who they should speak to – they said no and that the feedback from employees has been exceptional. They both had an open-door policy and as they had certain areas of expertise people internally would naturally come to the person who they felt would be suited to the question.
In terms of external communications – they trusted each other completely to make decisions independently when required and both were confident ambassadors/spokespeople for the charity.
Many leaders find it’s “lonely at the top.” As the CEO you are responsible for the overall performance and success of the company. This means that the weight of the company’s success or failure rests on your shoulders. This can be a heavy burden to bear and can often lead to feelings of isolation. As the CEO you are ultimately accountable to the Board which can also lead to a sense of isolation as you may feel like you are constantly being scrutinized and evaluated. Sharing responsibility and having someone to bounce decisions off can fix this.
Another big advantage is holiday/sickness cover – there is no time when the charity doesn’t have a CEO at the helm. Decisions don’t stop for holidays, and both cover each other whilst away – a huge advantage.
The flexibility this approach offers is highly attractive to leaders. You’d be able to get experienced charity directors who may trade off salary for the flexibility a job share would offer.
“Two great minds for the price of one!”
The benefits of job share seem like a great option. Of course, it may not be the right solution for all – more to come on this soon as I will write an article on what to think about if you’re a charity considering doing this.
For further reading on this topic the links below are an interesting read too.
If you’d like to chat further about this or how we can help you find the perfect executive recruitment solution for your charity call Lisa or Matt on 0207 198 6060 or firstname.lastname@example.org