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Executive leadership, co-CEO model & authenticity


In this month’s myGrapevine magazine leadership roundup, we look at leadership lessons from Gymshark’s boss, why more firms are adopting the co-CEO approach, as well as sheding light on how to become a more authentic boss. In addition to this, we explore what one leading CEO thinks about executive leadership...

 

Boxpark boss shares 3 tips on executive leadership

 

Boxpark boss shares 3 tips on executive leadership

It is unsurprising that budding entrepreneurs will want to learn from the best when it comes to conquering the business world. Luckily, in a recent interview with Clic, Roger Wade, CEO of Boxpark, shed light on the biggest and most important leadership lessons he has learnt.

Firstly, Boxpark’s CEO said that companies must touch customers in a way that other brands don’t. Wade explained: “…I’m always asking myself: ‘What are the reasons that the customer is here?’ I’m always putting customers first and centre. That’s what I think it takes to be successful.”

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Secondly, while many businesses rely on crunching the numbers to find solutions, Wade suggested that relying on instinct is key. “...When you truly believe in your instincts, you are most effective,” he said.

Lastly, Wade implied that it is important to learn from mistakes and welcome change. He explained: “Over the years I’ve been most successful when I’ve embraced mistakes, change and risk. Doing that is what keeps you alive as an entrepreneur. If you don’t confront those things – and the fear that comes with them – you won’t resolve issues, improve or evolve.”

Does the co-CEO model work?

Having multiple CEOs at the top of a company is not a completely new concept. In fact, Netflix, is helmed by two CEOs. Reed Hastings is Co-Founder, Chairman, and Co-Chief Executive Officer and he has been joined by Ted Sarandos in 2020.

Separately, in 2021, media firm Jungle Creations appointed co-CEOs Melissa Chapman and Nat Poulter. With increasing pressure on CEOs today, Poulter believes that having someone to stress-test ideas against leads to better success.

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Data has also pointed towards why the co-CEO model could be beneficial. In fact, findings from the American Psychological Association suggest that having a single CEO at the top is simply too much. This is largely because the business landscape is too fast-moving and demands on a CEO have become too innumerable for a single person to be able to set a firm’s strategic direction.

Does the co-CEO model work?

 

Having multiple CEOs at the top of a company is not a completely new concept. In fact, Netflix, is helmed by two CEOs. Reed Hastings is Co-Founder, Chairman, and Co-Chief Executive Officer and he has been joined by Ted Sarandos in 2020.

Separately, in 2021, media firm Jungle Creations appointed co-CEOs Melissa Chapman and Nat Poulter. With increasing pressure on CEOs today, Poulter believes that having someone to stress-test ideas against leads to better success.

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Data has also pointed towards why the co-CEO model could be beneficial. In fact, findings from the American Psychological Association suggest that having a single CEO at the top is simply too much. This is largely because the business landscape is too fast-moving and demands on a CEO have become too innumerable for a single person to be able to set a firm’s strategic direction.

 

Why Gymshark’s CEO stood down

 

Why Gymshark’s CEO stood down

Ben Francis co-founded the fitness apparel brand Gymshark in 2012 whilst still a student and very quickly he found himself at the top of the firm with no formal leadership training.

To help both the company and himself, he decided to step down from the role of CEO in 2017 and transitioned to a position as Chief Brand Officer, handing over the reins to Steve Hewitt, who had previously worked in sales at Reebok.

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Speaking on the decision in a blog post, Francis wrote: “You end up having the inevitable founder and director responsibilities – like understanding financials, business structures, managing risk, long term plans, attending Board meetings and so on. This is a lot to manage for anyone, let alone a young entrepreneur who has little to no prior business experience.”

Essentially, Francis had the foresight to see that he didn’t have the skills needed to lead and so stepped aside whilst he brushed up on his skillset. “It allowed me to spend my time working on my weaknesses…It also allowed me to watch how Steve works, and learn from him,” Francis added.

Tips on how to become a more authentic leader

The leadership qualities of bosses can have a huge impact on the workforce. For example, if a leader tends to have unreasonable demands, it is possible that a culture of fear will develop which could lead to high turnover levels.

Adam Weber, Chief People Officer at Emplify, defined an authentic leader in his book 'Lead Like a Human' as ‘someone who is willing and able to be themselves, and leads in a way that feels natural to who they are as a person’.

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Yet, like most things in the world of work, being truly authentic can be easier said than done. This was also alluded to in Weber’s book: “Making the time to look inward is the first step. Taking a long, hard look in the mirror might be painful, but it’s an essential first step in gaining the confidence required to become your own kind of leader.”

So, how can leaders become more authentic? In a previous interview with Forbes, Weber shared three secrets to help leaders become truly authentic. Ways that leaders can achieve this, outlined by the expert, included encouraging honest feedback, focusing on a routine and learning to self-reflect.

Tips on how to become a more authentic leader

 

The leadership qualities of bosses can have a huge impact on the workforce. For example, if a leader tends to have unreasonable demands, it is possible that a culture of fear will develop which could lead to high turnover levels.

Adam Weber, Chief People Officer at Emplify, defined an authentic leader in his book Lead Like a Human as ‘someone who is willing and able to be themselves, and leads in a way that feels natural to who they are as a person’.

Yet, like most things in the world of work, being truly authentic can be easier said than done. This was also alluded to in Weber’s book: “Making the time to look inward is the first step. Taking a long, hard look in the mirror might be painful, but it’s an essential first step in gaining the confidence required to become your own kind of leader.”

So, how can leaders become more authentic? In a previous interview with Forbes, Weber shared three secrets to help leaders become truly authentic. Ways that leaders can achieve this, outlined by the expert, included encouraging honest feedback, focusing on a routine and learning to self-reflect.

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