Seven Ways Facebook’s Board Must Handle its ‘Genius CEO’

The IPO may be over, but there’s plenty of work left to do at Facebook. The board is going to [...]

May 24 2012 by

The IPO may be over, but there’s plenty of work left to do at Facebook. The board is going to have to learn how to deal with its ‘genuis CEO’ without suppressing his creative side — which is what got the company to the IPO in the first place.

Jeff Sonnenfeld of the Yale School of Management outlined for the Washington Post how the board of the newly-public company should deal with CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Since Zuckerberg, still in his 20s, has built Facebook from the ground up, and has been a visionary (or ‘genuis CEO’ as Sonnenfeld says) the board will have to learn to toe the line between managing Zuckerberg without stifling his creative genius.

Here are Sonnenfeld’s 5 critical pieces to the Facebook governance picture:

  1. The board needs to understand (but not necessarily share) Zuckerberg’s desire to change the world
  2. Whether it  be through a title or some other action, the board will need to recognize Zuckerberg’s greatness and help in his legacy
  3. Hold Zuckerberg to high standards of integrity (there are no moral exceptions for the CEO)
  4. Challenge Zuckerberg on important issues (like Facebook’s current advertising issues)
  5. Make sure Zuckerberg has mentors in whom he can confide

In addition to Sonnenfeld’s tips, here are two from Chief Executive:

  1. The new company is no longer private and as such the Zuck can’t go around acquiring companies (Instagram) and not discuss this in advance with the board.
  2. He needs to send a signal to outsiders with the appointment of a lead director, an eminence gris, an elder statesman figure who has the governance gravitas to take the Zuckmeister to the woodshed if this or something similar should repeat itself. Wall Street and investors need to know there’s adult supervision.

Read: Analysis: Facebook board must learn to deal with genius CEO