The 5 Personas of Mid-Market CEOs
Over my career as a CEO of three mid-market companies, as a chair of Vistage, the world’s largest CEO member organization, and as a consultant, I’ve had the privilege of directly working with over 1,000 different CEOs of mid-market companies.
Most of them are extraordinary men and women, leaders and diligent workers, many of whom created something out of nothing to contribute substantial value to the community and the economy.
Over the years, I began to see many similarities amongst my fellow mid-market CEOs. While CEOs of mid-market companies are different than startup entrepreneurs or the CEOs and executive leadership of Fortune 500 companies, I found that they have many similarities amongst themselves.
As I studied my experiences I realized that mid-market CEOs, almost every single CEO of a private company between $1 million and $100 million in revenue, fall into five different categories, or “personas” as I call them. These personas may seem alike to the outsider, but the personal goals of each are distinctly different and directly affect how they manage their mid-market company.
CEO Personas of Mid-Market Companies
1. The Growth CEO – You have a desire to move forward, to get bigger, to expand, to beat your competition and win the game. While this seems to be the logical profile of all CEOs, that isn’t what I’ve experienced–approximately 30% of the CEOs I’ve encountered are true ‘growth CEOs.’
2. The Hired Gun CEO – You’ve been brought into a new company with the goal of making a short term, immediate impact. It’s usually a turnaround or preparation for a company sale, and you have a big financial gain at stake and a reputation for being a turnaround expert. Approximately 15% of the CEOs I’ve encountered fall into this persona.
3. The Strategic CEO – You’re striving for a mid-term exit in 10 years. You’re either a company founder, or you’ve run the company a long time—and you’re focused on improving the business, to sell or transfer to a family member. Approximately 20% of the CEOs I’ve encountered fall into this persona.
4. The Career CEO – You’re a new CEO taking on your first command and have achieved your dream role—you plan on being a CEO for multiple companies over your career. Approximately 10% of the CEOs I’ve encountered fall into this persona.
5. The Auto-Pilot CEO – You’ve achieved continued success with your business, but it still requires all your attention to operate the company at your desired level. You’d like to get the business to the point where it can perform at this level without your constant involvement, so you can work less and have more time for other activities. Approximately 25% of the CEOs I’ve encountered fall into this persona.
Which persona are you?
As you think about your CEO persona, consider this:
The key to being a successful mid-market CEO – the CEO who is happy because he has structured his company to meet his personal goals, whatever those may be – is to first understand your persona, and then, to manage your company around your personal goals.
Intrigued? Learn more about the CEO personas in our new book. Download here.