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How to Be a CEO: Transitioning From Founder to CEO Mentality

Transitioning from being the founder of your company to CEO is no easy feat. Not only are you getting a promotion, but you’re probably also learning the ropes on your own. While we recommend hiring a coach to get you over the highest hurdles, there are some steps you can take to start making strides on your own first. Discover how to be a CEO with a CEO mentality with these five common founders’ mistakes.

What Is CEO Mentality?

The difference between a founder and a CEO seems somewhat nuanced. But look closer and you’ll see that there’s actually a huge difference. Founders start companies; CEOs lead those companies into the future of their industries.

That’s why so many founders end up hiring CEOs instead of making the transition themselves (or simply selling the company altogether). 

Yet what do you do if you want to see your vision through to fruition? We recommend learning from the mistakes of others and avoiding the following.

How to Be a CEO: Common Founders’ Mistakes

1. Inability to ‘Let Go’ of Vision

When you’re first starting out, you have a clear idea of what you want your company to be and do. But as time passes, it becomes more and more difficult to let go of that vision — even if it no longer serves your customers and/or team.
If you want to learn how to be a CEO, you’ll need to seek out people who are smarter than you to help you refine that vision for the future. Flexibility is important.

2. Difficulty Delegating Tasks

Remember when you filled out your last job application and one of the line items asked you to admit to one weakness? If you answered, “Difficulty accepting help,” you’re probably not alone. It’s a common answer and looks great on applications because it used to imply that you were a hard worker. 

But now that you’re leveling up, it’s not such a great attribute for the CEO mentality. 

There’s no way you can possibly do everything when it comes to your company (especially if you’re learning how to be a CEO). 

Start by delegating small tasks (we recommend hiring an assistant because you’ll also learn how to treat people with respect and generosity) before moving on to delegating important tasks.
Delegating tasks also just happens to be one of the best ways to avoid burnout.

3. Takes Everything Personally

When it comes to business, everything is personal and nothing is personal. But when it comes to your business, the person who takes things personally will never learn how to be CEO material. 

If you take things personally, you can’t think objectively. When you respond in anger, shame or disappointment, you fail to see there’s a bigger lesson just ripe for the picking: one that lies within your disappointment. 

Don’t take anything personally means that you simply learn from failure. If your pitch goes badly, hire a pitching coach. If you hire the wrong person, learn from that mistake.
Don’t let ‘failure’ go to waste. That’s CEO mentality.

4. Resistance to Becoming a Leader

Most of us resist greatness. In fact, one of the first steps of the hero’s journey is resistance. We as a species (women especially) seem to abhor change — both good and bad. 

But change is important.

You can’t transition from being a founder to learning how to be a CEO without change. Founders work their butts off to get their companies off the ground. CEOs are leaders who help others grow into their positions of power through support and wisdom.

5. Difficulty Motivating Others 

We all know how difficult it is to motivate others (or ourselves for that matter!). Difficulty motivating others is one of the biggest hurdles you’ll encounter on your journey from founder to CEO. Luckily, we’re here to help you find the right people for your company — and we also happen to know a few tough women warriors who have been through the transformation and can assist you with developing a CEO mentality and motivating your team.

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