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Jon Cowan
Non-profit leader

Jon Cowan

Jonathan Cowan is president and co-founder of Third Way, a think-tank of the progressive movement. In the Clinton administration, he served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Friending the next leader

Q: The ongoing privacy controversy at Facebook raises the familiar dilemma of what to do when fast-growing startups threaten to outgrow the management abilities of creative young founders. The Google guys got kudos for bringing in industry veteran Eric Schmidt as CEO, but things didn't work out as well when Pepsi's John Sculley took the reins from a young Steve Jobs at Apple. What's the leadership wisdom here?

Great leaders always put their company before themselves, and if that means handing over the reins to someone else, they'll be the one arguing forcefully for that change. And great leaders recognize that what it takes to get an idea off the ground is dramatically different than running and growing an established and successful organization.

Yet all too often, start-ups fail to make the shifts necessary to prosper and compete in this middle-stage. Who knows -- perhaps the next leader of Facebook has already "friended" the current CEO - and they are just one click away from better navigating their meteoric but challenging rise.

By Jon Cowan

 |  June 8, 2010; 6:19 AM ET
Category:  Corporate leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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