what are co-CEOs? blog

What are Co-CEOs? Do Co-CEOs Work? When/How to Hire Them

Yes, Co-CEOs are a thing, and they have become increasingly popular over the past few years. It is as simple as it sounds. It’s a company having 2 CEOs. But do co-CEOs work? Where have they excelled and failed, and are they right for your company? Does it make sense for your business? And, how do you hire co-CEOs? Let’s explore!

What Are Co-CEOs?

A co-CEO, also known as a dual CEO, is when two people share the role and responsibilities of the chief executive officer in a company. The co-CEO model is relatively new, with the first co-CEOs appearing in the early 2000s. It’s also commonly referred to as power sharing.

The co-CEO structure can take different forms. In some cases, the co-CEOs have different titles but share the same responsibilities. In other instances, co-CEOs may have different areas of focus or expertise. For example, one focused on innovation & tech leadership, and the other focused on traditional business elements such as sales, marketing, finance, and shareholder management.

As a practice, co-CEOs are most common in LLCs, law firms, accounting firms, VCs, and early-stage tech and research companies.

Why do Companies have Co-CEOS?


There are a few reasons why companies choose to use co-CEOs:

  1. It can help with succession planning. Having two CEOs can ensure that there is always someone in charge, even if one of the CEOs leaves the company.
  2. Co-CEOs can provide complementary skillsets and experiences. This can be helpful in industries where change is happening rapidly, such as technology or healthcare. Two CEOs with different backgrounds can help a company navigate these changes successfully.
  3. Co-CEOs can provide more stability than a single CEO. This is due to the fact that co-CEOs are less likely to make radical changes to the company or take it in a new direction. Having two CEOs can help a company maintain its current course while still being able to adapt to change.
  4. They can provide more accountability because co-CEOs are less likely to make decisions that are not in the company’s best interest. Having two CEOs can help to ensure that all decisions are produced with the company’s best interests in mind.
  5. They can provide more transparency. The reason is that co-CEOs are less likely to make decisions that are not in the best interest of the shareholders. Having two CEOs can help to ensure that all decisions are formed with the shareholders’ best interests in mind.
  6. Finally, co-CEOs can provide more shareholder value. This is because co-CEOs are less likely to make decisions that are not in the best interest of the shareholders. Having two CEOs can help to ensure that all decisions are constructed with the shareholders’ best interests in mind.
Co-ceos working together


Do Co-CEOs Work?

There is no easy answer when it comes to whether or not co-CEOs work. Co-CEOs have advantages and disadvantages, ultimately depending on the company’s specific situation.

That being said, some companies have succeeded with co-CEOs, such as Google, Starbucks, Goldman Sachs, SAP, Unilever, and Oracle. These companies have successfully navigated change and maintained a stable course.

Some companies have not had success with co-CEOs, such as Yahoo! and Hewlett-Packard. In these cases, the co-CEOs could not provide the necessary stability or accountability.

Common concerns of companies considering Co-CEOs

What if leaders disagree? Who is Accountable? What if they are not willing? All three of these concerns can be answered by addressing the proper method and reasoning for implementing co-CEOS, such as:

  1. They must be willing participants who see and appreciate the value in going for co-CEOS. It’s impossible to implement this without willing participants
  2. They need to have complementary skills. The main goal is to have a more comprehensive knowledge and skill set at the top to help make better decisions in large, complicated businesses or fast-moving ones. Without this, you are missing out on some of the real value which can be realized from co-CEOS.
  3. They need to have their own personal areas of responsibility and decision rights based on their skill set and competence. There will be more significant macro business decisions where they will come together and debate the direction. But this brings us to point 4.
  4. They must have effective methods for conflict resolution. Strategies like locking themselves in a room to debate for a few hours! It is essential that they have a unified decision on the direction of the business and a unified voice, so their authority doesn’t get questioned.

Have any more questions or input on Co-CEOs? Contact me and let me know!

Co-ceos collaborating

Could Executive Search Benefit your Business?

How To Hire Co-CEOs?

It’s not much different than hiring a CEO. It is generally done when the business already has one CEO, as a decision to adequately cover the needs and knowledge requirements to serve all of the business.

In addition to the information I provide on how to hire a CEO, I strongly suggest considering the compatibility of the co-CEO hire and the extra knowledge and skill they can bring to your leadership.

Given this, your current CEO/ remaining co-CEO should be heavily involved in the interview and hiring process. You need to make sure that they can co-operate well with the new hire so that they can be comfortable and confident that adding a co-CEO, will benefit the business.

Given this, if you are thinking of adding a co-CEO, you can do with all the help you can get as you will need to offload the majority of the work to an external executive search process,  You must allow for your remaining CEO to focus on their core tasks and responsibilities. I’d recommend partnering with a CEO executive search firm. If you would like help recruiting executive talent in your region or from your specific business industry, please contact me and I can connect you to the best specialists.

Not sure if Executive Search Can help your business? take my quiz to find out if it can!

Robert S Travis About Me page

Need Expert Executive Search Help?

As a Managing Partner at Boyden, I can provide you with personal assistance, introduce you to another partner, or assemble a specialized global search team who would be best suited to assist you and your organization with the specific executive search needs.

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