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Most companies have one chief executive officer. The notion of having five CEOs for a company seems preposterous, a recipe for disaster. But at sister companies MOBI Wireless Management and Bluefish Wireless Management, the CEOs – all five of them – would insist the conventional wisdom is wrong.

On, writer Minda Zetlin reports that the five founders of the wireless companies each oversee a different area: IT, marketing, sales, operations, and finance. In a traditional company, they would all head functions and report to a single CEO. But here they have control over their own area operationally, and come together collectively to make strategic decisions. Five happens to be a handy number should they be divided on those wider corporate issues.

It also helps externally. Everyone likes talking to the big boss, and here each can tell their contacts they are talking to a founder-CEO. "I was having an informal dinner with a potential client in Nashville the other day, and about five minutes into it they asked who my boss was," Josh Garrett told Inc.. "When they learned I was one of the owners and CEOs, it shifted the whole dynamic of the evening. They were much more willing to share information. The meeting the next day went great, and they may wind up being one of our biggest customers."

Internally, employees also feel better when they take an idea to a boss who happens to be CEO. "If there were only one CEO, it would be much harder for them to get in to see that person," said Mr. Garrett.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online work-life column Balance. E-mail Harvey Schachter

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