When Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes founded Atlassian together in 2004, the concept of dual-executive leaders was uncommon, and sometimes looked down upon. Nearly 20 years later, Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes serve as co-chief executive officers of a $69 billion software company, and each ranks in the top 10 of Australia’s richest individuals. The two close collaborators have achieved their success by leaning into each other’s strengths: Cannon-Brookes oversees engineering, design, and product, while Farquhar leads the human resources, finance, sales, marketing, and customer support teams. And at various times in the company’s two decades, each has run the company while the other took a sabbatical.
Thanks in large part to their own collaboration, Atlassian has fostered a highly-collaborative environment. As co-founders, Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes retain a deep combined knowledge base and understanding of the company’s product that keeps Atlassian moving at a fast pace. In addition, their own teamwork provides a top-down example that the company’s 7,000-plus employees can emulate. Their highly-coordinated leadership has helped lead Jira, the company’s flagship project management software, to the top of the industry.