Is stress to CEO, paparazzi to celebrity?
Part of the territory or outdated inheritance? On the one hand, you’ve made it here, perhaps a dream come true or not quite what you expected, you want to do it all now, speed up to the first and then the second milestone, and then, a hint of imposter syndrome, a dash of overwhelmness, loss of control, a constant sprint, and a huge “what now?” shadow following you.
“I can not force my help in regards to internal processes”, is what an angel investor answered when I asked for his advice if investors/VCs could be my target audience for company culture assessments. This got me thinking, can a BOD (board of directors) member mentor a CEO? Absolutely yes. Will a CEO share openly and express vulnerability to the person that signs a crucial check? The sensitivity level is at its highest.
For the past 15 years, as Executive Assistant, I was the “fly on the wall”, with CEOs, founders, HR, board members, potential investors and all management levels. In addition, I had the opportunity to create and lead employee wellbeing programs and company culture, create relationships and experiences, listen, hear the sub context and provide creative solutions.
Being CEO, means people will not always be honest with you. People pleasers, authority issues, introverts, lack an own opinion, fear of retribution and possibly losing source of income, and so many factors that are: a.) not up to you b.) not related to you as a person c.) not in your control.
CEOs also have personal lives, family, health issues, insecurities, desires and a shitload of responsibility with no room for self pity.
Throughout my EA years, I noticed what I call ‘CEO side effects’ (within diverse high tech industries, locations, life views, company sizes, etc.) The most common and noticeable attributes for CEOs;
1. Lack of sleep - Our brains need sleep to recover and function properly. Take Bill Gates’ word for it. 2. Eating habits - fasting all day scarfing all night, skipping meals
3. Loneliness - internal conflicts, juggling work life balance, ‘fake it till you make it’ is necessary at times and will take a toll if this goes on too long.
If you won’t clear time to take care of your wellbeing, illness will do it for you (unknown source).
Everything in the organization is a reflection of the CEO. How and where the CEOs efforts and focus lay, the example they lead by is the culture that will naturally nurture and the talent attracted. Understand that trust is not a territory default with anyone, it's something you actively work to gain overtime, with actions behind your words.
What can be done, immediately?
1. Delegate two things you procrastinate the most
2. Right-hand person - CEO is a rough and lonely role, find someone you can trust, that will put things in perspective, call you and the BS out when needed and have your best interest in mind.
3. Daily ritual - use your morning shower to visualize your day: what needs to be done and how you plan to, decide and state that today will be an awesome day.
Can BOD members do more? CEOs won’t, nor should they, know all the questions they should be asking (especially first timers). BOD members can provide more than high level connections, leads, discounts, management recruiting, etc’ and should be more involved in the internal building of a company, not just the business part, actively create an ecosystem that provides CEOs/founders contact to the right guidance. Fragile ego or not wanting to overstep, should no longer be acceptable answers.
It’s easier for a group to solve a puzzle with a few missing pieces, when they see the big picture. Blurry picture? Shift the way you’re looking at it.
There's much more to discuss, anything you'd like to read more about? Thoughts? In the mean time, remember to talk to someone - coach/consultant/mentor for insights practical aspects, go to a therapist for personal aspects, move your body, get out of the office, ask for help.