Ever since I can remember, I’ve been passionate about rock music. And like many boys in the 1980s, I was a fan of the band, Rush. I distinctly remember the day I bought Moving Pictures, their breakout album and the first one I purchased with my own money. Upon arriving home, I laid the vinyl on our family room record player and out of the boxy speakers blasted the opening track, “Tom Sawyer”. The ‘A’ side of the album closed with “Limelight“, and I sat there so amazed at what I just heard that it took me a while before flipping over the record.
Living on a lighted stage
Approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality
Beyond the gilded cage.
To participate in The Junto Institute’s curriculum, our founders “go” to class, “go” to the leadership forums, and “go” to office hours. All are held at our host partner’s sites, Catapult Chicago and Foley & Lardner.
For the rest of the curriculum – the mentoring program – meetings are scheduled mostly at the startups’ offices. So while they don’t “go” anywhere literally, they spend time thinking and talking about the business with their mentors every few weeks. Continue reading
The most popular post on my blog is one I wrote about a year ago called The Differences between Founder and CEO Titles. It was inspired by the work I was doing at the time creating The Junto Institute, which is focused on developing startup founders into effective leaders.
Since our launch in January, we’ve learned some important lessons about the CEO role, especially as it relates to other executive/co-founder roles.
CEOs come in different colors and shapes. In our cohort, there is a single founder for one startup so he’s the default CEO. In another with three co-founders, the CEO is a passive operator, focused on business development and being the face of the company; the other two co-founders perform day-to-day executive functions. Another Junto startup has two co-founders who are old friends, neither of whom technically has the CEO title, but one of whom fills the role when necessary. And in the other companies, the role is that of a prototypical CEO: chosen or self-selected, with the chief executive responsibilities.
Startup CEOs carry a different burden. Not just because of their job responsibilities but because they effectively stand on the shoulders of everyone else, including the other co-founders. In other words, the CEO often takes the impact and pressure of the team’s dynamics to a different extent. When there are conflicts, performance issues, role changes, etc., the CEO tends to feel and take greater responsibility, deserved or not.
Co-founders want the CEO to lead. They understand the importance of that role to the company and their team. They appreciate when the CEO leads assertively, acknowledge when he is not, and enjoy watching him grow and develop. Co-founders get inspired by the CEO, just like others on the team. They look to the CEO as a role model, mentor, and friend. But most importantly, as a leader.
Five months ago, I announced the launch of The Junto Institute. Today, I’m pleased to announce that applications are open for the second cohort, Junto II, which will consist of eight select startups and will run from September 2013 through June 2014.
The Junto Institute is a post-accelerator school that develops leadership capabilities, emotional intelligence, and management skills of startup founders. The curriculum integrates a peer-to-peer leadership forum, monthly business classes, leadership and management mentoring, and uniquely designed office hours. Continue reading