Why Co-CEOs are an effective and collaborative leadership model

Why Co-CEOs are an effective and collaborative leadership model


Industry: Energy

Roleshare: Senior Leadership

"The benefit of having two CEOs is creating a pace at which it just wouldn’t be possible for one leader to work."

- Monica Collings and Brendan Clark, Co-CEOs, iSupplyEnergy a Vattenfall Group business.

Monica Collings and Brendan Clark together were Co-CEOs leading Vattenfall Group’s £120m turnover UK retail energy supply business, iSupplyEnergy, with line management responsibility for over 260 colleagues.

What has sharing a role helped enabled in your personal life and at work?

Brendan - For my personal life being a Co-CEO has meant being able to take time away from the office and be very confident that things are taken care of which means more quality downtime so I can come back fully recharged. At work, it means having someone immediately at hand to support and bounce ideas around with, which I’ve really valued.
Monica -  I’ve been able to juggle the many demands of my role with the many demands of being a parent. I haven’t had to miss a school assembly or sports day, and at work, because we both work full time I think Brendan and I have been able to successfully achieve the right balance of being visible with our people but also dedicating the right time to strategic thinking.

What has it brought to your greater team, manager, organization, stakeholders?

We both feel quite strongly that our organization has benefited from having both of us as leaders. We’ve shared decision making that ultimately has led to better decisions being made because we’ve had the time to properly think things through, but also have more meaningful discussions because of our slightly different paths and therefore starting positions. It’s also meant greater efficiency as we’re somewhat interchangeable which means we can slot in and out of meetings and decisions aren’t held up. We’ve genuinely never found any topics that we’ve not been able to cover or any areas where we fundamentally disagree on an outcome.

What has it done for your performance at work and how does it compare to previous roles you’ve had?

The benefit of having two CEOs is creating a pace at which it just wouldn’t be possible for one leader to work. We’ve managed to cover a number of key objectives simultaneously including addressing underperformance, legacy issues, and the M&A process amongst many other topics and still exceeding our business plan.

How did you secure and set up your job share?

As part of a strategic business review, we worked side by side in the preparation of the business case and market evaluation which meant we’d developed a strong partnership. Having observed how well we worked together when the time came to appoint a new business leader our superiors approached us and invited us to take on the joint leadership mantle. It was a no brainer for us to continue working closely together to help steer our organization through a critical time in its journey and it was our privilege to do so.

What do you do to make your roleshare successful? 

It’s really important to communicate frequently and openly. Our other halves joke that we spend more time talking to each other than we do to them and that’s probably true. We check in with each other often on what’s on our agendas and also what’s happening with us personally – sometimes on the phone but also by messages or emails. We’re still as close in our communication now as we were when we were physically in the office pre-COVID. We’re also quite similar in the values we hold as important and we care deeply about our people and the culture and environment we create. We’re quite visible leaders but we also have natural preferences – for example, Monica takes more of the ‘front man’ in the organization when it comes to communicating key messages and Brendan faces more into our group company, Vattenfall. We embrace and celebrate our natural differences and use them to our advantage as we believe we are stronger together.

How do you handle your personal growth?

This co-ship is the perfect way to stretch ourselves out of our bedrock of experience with being well supported. For example, Monica owning risk audits or Brendan as a spokesperson in video communications means that our growth has been accelerated alongside the areas we would normally have developed into. It’s been a tremendous experience and personal growth journey to work together and support each other’s development. We’ve also continued with our own personal development and both have executive coaches working with us as we look for our next adventures.

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