All of the functional leaders should report to the CEO. This may change as the company grows, but a general rule of thumb is there are 6 core functions in most startups that are direct reports to the CEO:
- VP Sales
- VP Marketing
- VP Product
- VP Engineering
- VP Customer Success
- VP Operations
I’m leaving VP Finance out because often that role is outsourced to a part time CFO in the early days.
It’s the CEO’s role to ensure there is alignment, transparency and accountability amongst this leadership team. Some specific things that s/he should be doing with this group:
1. Running a weekly executive team meeting
All of the CEOs direct reports should attend a weekly executive team meeting. This meeting should be focused on discussing strategy, debating and solving problems. It should never include going around the table and doing status updates.
2. Getting weekly written updates
Each leader that reports to the CEO should write a quick recap of the top objectives, concerns and plan for next week in their functional area. My team uses an app called Weekly Update to do this. These updates give the CEO (and rest of team) clear status in writing that can be used to hold each leader accountable for delivering progress.