The primary role of a founder is an artist, not a CEO

Tom Nixon
Tom Nixon
Jul 28, 2017 · 4 min read

The artist CEO

All art starts within an artist. It begins with a yearning, an impulse to create something in the world. The vision of the end result may not be crystal clear, yet there’s enough passion for the artist to invest themselves in the idea and take the first step towards realising it.

If they don’t take responsibility then sooner or later the art will be compromised.

Like it or not, they are in charge. If the artistic impulse has come from them, it’s impossible for anybody other than them to be responsible.

Separate roles

Yet when we usually think about businesses and other endeavours, these two roles can become unhelpfully merged. ‘Holding space for the vision’ is seen as just one part of the role of a CEO, alongside all of the other aspects of leading a company or organisation. And the responsibility is seen as ultimately being in service of the company.

A company is not an artist. It has no needs or impulses. Artists are human.

To create the best art, a founder needs to separate these roles and give priority to the purely creative role of taking responsibility for getting the vision ever clearer, and always taking the next step towards realising it.

Whenever the journey becomes about ‘the company’ the art is already becoming diminished.

Artistry first, leadership second

Founders should make learning about idea realisation their priority. Learning the principles and process that allows an idea to flow, and not get stuck.


Maptio

Self-management done right. The blog of Maptio - the tool for visualising self-managing organisations.

Tom Nixon

Written by

Tom Nixon

Researching and working with founders to realise big ideas and keep the startup passion forever.

Maptio

Maptio

Self-management done right. The blog of Maptio - the tool for visualising self-managing organisations.