Why Do We Automatically Respect Founders and CEOs?
Having an idea and forming a company alone aren’t worthy of default deference.
I wrote some time ago about the bizarre phenomenon of managers expecting respect by default in the workplace.
This is generally experienced by them automatically assuming that their opinion holds more weight than other people’s, that they should always be leading meetings, and that they simply ‘know what to do’ by some bizarre invested almost divine right directly from their online certifications, business cards, and ‘business casual’ or even (frankly quite frighteningly in 2022) ‘business formal’ attire.
Of course, this is shambolic at best, as we know in the grand game respect is something that is earned through hard work, actually doing things, and being nice to people rather than ordering them around, not doing anything, and spending all of your time in some time / project / story point management tool or other.
I got to thinking, after reading through my LinkedIn feed¹ — why are CEOs or ‘Founders’ as they often label themselves, seemingly given deference and respect automatically rather than earning it through hard work, geniality, and being nice to people too?
Now I’m not saying that being a CEO is easy, I’m saying that just about anyone can have an idea, form a company², and relabel themselves accordingly with a few swift clicks.
Ergo, positioning yourself as a CEO is easy, is what I’m saying — you’re automagically granted that aura of successfulness, an extra few seconds in the attention of someone scrolling mindlessly through the feed, and a smidgeon of credibility when, perhaps, you don’t deserve it at all.
I get the same feeling in the pit of my stomach when I see the label ‘Thought Leader’ (usually someone pushing a ‘free’ ebook), ‘Recruitment Ninja’ (fishing for leads), or ‘Leading Voice’ (the loudest in the room who’s farmed followers using abject clickbait) as I do when I see ‘Founder’ pretty much most of the time as I do tend to click on and ‘drill down³’ to see what they’ve actually been up to.
I see a lot of ‘Serial Founders’ (repeated failures, job hoppers, people who don’t actually want to do any work but just order people around whilst having lavish lunches and…