Roles of a Teal CEO


If everyone self-manages in a Teal organization, is there any reason to have a CEO?

I believe so. A CEO is still required to represent the company legally and in public with the extended world. Far from being a figurehead, a Teal CEO plays extremely important roles within the organization. Relative speaking, these roles require less business experience and more systemic thinking, deep human understanding and personal mastery.

Vision Guide

Without control and authority, what holds a Teal organization together is shared vision and values. As the steward of company culture, the CEO is responsible for ensuring the company vision and values are reflected in all activities within the organization, in good and bad time.

Organizational Host 

People are inspired to join a Teal organization more for its purpose and less for financial dependency. It takes more than money to attract and to keep them. Similar to taking care of house guests, the CEO is expected to make people feel at home – safe, comfortable and relaxed. When people are happy, they do their best work.

Coach & Mentor

All of us have tremendous untapped potential. That potential doesn’t come from adding another skill or learning another process, but from removing the emotional and mental barriers within us through coaching. Sometimes, we need guidance and mentoring from those who have been to places we want to go to (especially mindset). Through coaching and mentoring, a Teal CEO is here to develop people and bring out the best in them.

Role Model

Authenticity, vulnerability, tolerance, patience, and empathy – these are unfamiliar (in conventional organizations) yet essential values needed to sustain a Teal organization. It is helpful that the CEO can demonstrate these values through actions, not just words.

Individual Contributor

Like everyone else, the CEO has her own unique talents to contribute to the organization and can choose projects that interest her. Nevertheless, the most important project is recruiting and onboarding, especially in the beginning. Hiring for Teal organization is more of an art than a science. The most important qualities are often not presented in CVs. It requires a holistic approach to discover the gem in the invisible.

In essence, a Teal CEO has two main responsibilities – to hold the Teal vision and to help others succeed. She is not a guru and often doesn’t have the right answers, but she facilitates the right answers to emerge collectively. This requires a lot of humility (as opposed to ego). This requires a balanced masculine and feminine qualities (unlike that in masculinity dominating conventional organizations).

By no means, the CEO has to do it all. The more existing members can take on these leadership roles, the more effectively the company can create Teal culture. Further more, one doesn’t need to be perfect or “ready” to go Teal. Teal is a developmental journey for everyone involved, including the CEO.

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