22 July 2024, 21:20
By Steve Pickering Feb 08, 2024

The difference between CEO and MD

What’s the difference between a CEO and an MD, and why does it matter? In this article, Steve Pickering, the ‘unorthodox’ CEO of fast-growing South East independent bed retail chain Sussex Beds, looks at the difference between creation and execution …

I am a great CEO, but not such a great MD! Do you know the difference?

I must admit that I always thought that they were the same thing. However, there is a significant difference between the two roles, as explained in detail in the book, Rocket Fuel, by Gino Wickman and Mark C Winters, which delves into the concept of the ‘Visionary-Integrator’ partnership as a key factor in entrepreneurial success.

The authors suggest that every successful business requires two fundamental roles: the Visionary (or CEO), who generates new ideas, sets long-term goals, and drives innovation; and the Integrator (or MD), who is responsible for executing the Visionary’s ideas, managing day-to-day operations, and ensuring the organisation’s stability and efficiency.

The reality is that most businesses, including our own, have a single person covering both CEO and MD roles. In my case, I serve as both CEO and MD. According to the Rocket Fuel assessment tool, I lean more towards the former – the CEO/Visionary – and less towards the MD/Integrator.

I am well aware of my shortcomings as an MD/Integrator. I am not great at keeping people accountable, I struggle to maintain focus on long, detailed projects, and I do get distracted by shiny stuff. Ultimately, my goal is to move towards establishing a Visionary-Integrator partnership when growth allows.

Are you in the role of a CEO or an MD? Do you agree with the dual Visionary-Integrator leadership theory?

Discover more of Steve’s thoughts on his blog.

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