I remember one team dinner that I had back in August with Tlek, Kristine and Jessica, I was asked about some personal stuff and my role as a CEO also came up. Although it’s a bit redundant to discuss work during team dinners, small talks about what we do, the tasks and roles we play can spark interesting discussions and keep our team members in the loop. It is something that we can all learn about from one another and will also add value to our company. Let me begin by giving some insights on what CEOs do.
Many people have likened a startup to having a family, and I agree. Since February of this year, Bitkub has been growing as a family of great people and top talents. And being the head of Bitkub, I am responsible for leading the success of our company. My main job as CEO can be summed up into 3 things. First, setting the foundations of our home by providing each member a vision to follow. Second, ensuring that the household consists of the right people. Last, which is the most important task, is bringing financial resources so everyone can do their job.
I realized running a company is like running a household where the entire executive teams are the big brothers and sisters teaming up together to guide the company to a common goal. In a family, parents are investing in their children not solely with the purpose of achieving better returns when their children become older, but of shaping them to bring value to their lives and society. It’s the same thing with starting a company. You do not start a business only for the purpose of gaining profits but also with the intention of creating something meaningful.
When I started my first company, one of my misconceptions about being a CEO was that a CEO should be autocratic, chase people for results, and get a hand in every decision. But no matter how much order I try to put in, there will still be moments when it just won't work. Simply because this isn’t really me in real life. I find it very hard (despite Bitkub already being my second startup) to micromanage and act like a bad cop. Deep down, it was a daily struggle for me to balance the role of being a strict boss who pushes people to work hard to keep the company thriving and from being a cool leader who sacrifices the numbers for the people. But then I realized, there is no one narrowly defined pattern of leadership when it comes to business. No model will work unless you apply something you’re really good at. So instead of trying hard on becoming someone I am not, I should focus more on my strengths which are speaking, sharing visions, and writing to enable the company to shift towards the right business agenda.
There are different leadership styles that complement every CEO’s own unique qualities. Some CEOs focus more on leading the product roadmap and care deeply about bringing in new product innovations and strategies. Examples of product-led companies are Google, Facebook, and Salesforce. Other CEOs exercise a bit more oversight in managing operations, supervising performance and monitoring inventory. Ford Motor Company is a good example of an operations-focused corporate core. Moreover, there are CEOs who are sales-focused and drive the organization from a sales perspective. CEOs under this type are focused on increasing their company’s revenue. Last, is the marketing-focused CEO who devotes time to build connections and inspire people. These are leaders who are keen to share the grand vision of their business to the media, investors, and all its stakeholders. Examples of sales/marketing-focused CEOs in the tech world are Brian Cheskey (AirBnB) and Tim Cook (Apple).
Each CEO type has different areas of focus, different decision-making skills, and different methods of dealing with issues in the business. Sometimes a CEO can apply two or three different styles to better serve the company. As for me, my leadership style falls under operations/marketing-focused CEO. I check numbers first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. I think of productivity, metrics, value creation, and ruthless efficiency to ensure that everything is performing well within Bitkub. Not to mention that almost every half of my time, I’m out telling our company’s message (over and over again) to candidates, media, government, and the world to create the change we want to see in the world. I try my best to inspire (even on weekends).
There are many theories of management and styles of leadership. But in the end, none of them are right and none of them are wrong. Because in reality, it takes more than a title to inspire a team to support you.
Now, by gaining a bit of understanding of what CEOs do, I also want to encourage everyone to take charge and become your own CEO. It’s true that CEO establishes the core of the company, but without a strong reliable team, it’s hard-to-impossible for the CEO to get good results. At the end of the day, we work as one family and each member plays essential roles which contribute to the success of our company.
Thank you team for bringing our crazy ideas to reality.