Founders, the CEO role and knowing when to hand over the reins

May 18, 2021

Thrive Global February, 2020

by Stewart Thornhill, Executive Director at The Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies

Founding a company—especially one that becomes successful—is a unique achievement. But while founders often feel strong ties to the organizations they started, they aren’t always strong CEOs. As the needs of a company shift or a founder’s interests shift, often a company needs a change in leadership to ensure continued success or get it on the right track to profitability.

While most founders don’t stay at the helm as long as, for example, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin did—or see the type of exponential growth Google has—their departures from active management roles at the end of last year raised an interesting discussion. Organizations should consider whether founders are always the right person to lead a company and when it’s time for founder/CEOs to step aside.

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