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  • Ryan Giles

Co-CEOs (Two People Accountable = No One Accountable)

If Two People Are Accountable, No One Is Accountable

I’m writing this article as I fly home from speaking at a conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  After I speak, I always enjoy talking with the audience about their business issues and how we can overcome them.  A frightening trend I’m hearing from business owners is that they have Co-CEOs or Co-Presidents running the business.  When I hear this, I can almost guarantee that they’re not as successful as they could be.


While it may sound trendy or progressive to have two leaders jointly running an organization, it will create many more problems than it will solve.  Most companies with Co-CEOs have a weak or non-existent separation of roles and responsibilities (if roles were clear, they would see that both leaders aren’t doing CEO-type activities).  If roles aren’t clear, the organization isn’t clear on who does what.  Some employees may even take advantage of this by “playing” the leaders against each other (have you seen children do this with their parents?).

Ultimately, a lack of clarity leads to a lack of focus.  A lack of focus leads to a lack of execution, and if we don’t execute, we won’t reach our goals (or even set goals to begin with).

Consensus management is also an evil that can often be found in companies with Co-CEOs.  Consensus management is the concept that no decision can be made until everyone on the team is in agreement.  Philosophically, this sounds great.  However, in reality, this leads to paralysis and a lack of decision-making capabilities.  Companies who fall into the consensus management trap are plagued by a lack of innovation, decisiveness, and growth.


In almost every case, the root causes of these problems are either ego or lack of trust.  So, the solutions are to build team trust and keep your ego in check.  In severe cases, the only answer to these problems is an exit by one of the leaders.  However, if leaders can check their egos at the door and build team trust, they can achieve their business goals much more efficiently and effectively.


Step 1 – Check your egos at the door.  Build this into your culture!

Step 2 – Build your accountability chart to clearly define roles and responsibilities (think about the right structure before you think about the people you currently employ). 

Step 3 – Build accountability and trust by creating a weekly scorecard to measure what you expect from each employee in the business (what you need each person to do/accomplish).

Step 4 – Create a weekly meeting rhythm to communicate and build a culture of openness, honesty, and accountability (this includes partner meetings when multiple owners exist).

Ultimately, it’s up to you.  Would you rather have a lofty title but never fully reach your business’ full potential, or check your ego at the door and accomplish more than you ever dreamed possible?

If any of this sounds familiar, let’s talk about how Traction® and the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®) can help!


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