Are Four CEOs Too Many for One Company to Handle?

We’ve all heard of companies with two CEOs. In fact Chief Executive recently explored companies that are run by executive duos. But have you ever heard of a company with 4 CEOs? China’s largest manufacturer of phone equipment has announced its plan to add 3 rotating co-CEOs to the top office with its current CEO. Will it work, or will there be too many cooks in the kitchen?

April 27 2012 by ChiefExecutive.net


We’ve all heard of companies with two CEOs. In fact Chief Executive recently explored companies that are run by executive duos.

But how many CEOs are too many?

According to Bloomberg, China’s largest phone equipment manufacturer, Huawei Technologies Co., is pushing the envelope by relying on 4 CEOs. The plan keeps founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei in the C-suite, but will add 3 additional rotating co-CEOs. Each co-CEO will have a 6 month shift.

Of his leadership plan Ren said, “By authorizing a group of ‘bright’ minds to act as rotating and action CEOs, the company allows them to make decisions within certain boundaries while they face a constantly changing world. As they seek harmony in diversity, they can help the company adapt quickly to changes in the environment. They make decisions collectively, which avoids corporate rigidity.”

It seems that this plan is a form of succession planning, as Ren has been treated for cancer twice in 8 years, but will four CEOs be too many? What happens when the co-CEOs disagree with each other? Does the “current” CEO have final say? Does majority rule?

It seems that it could get complicated in Huawei’s C-suite.

Read: Huawei Founder Ren Splits CEO Role With Rotating Panel
Read: Two for the Road