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The jet-set lifestyle and six figure salary is an ambition of young executives, to want to be a CEO, but what is happening behind the allure of the status is another story. Our journey into the Dilemmas of CEOs, continues, from last month’s newsletter.
Health Hazard: The job description of a CEO should come with a health warning and a personal therapist. The turmoil of leadership, as described by many organizational heads, is frustration, disappointment and anger. Such emotional upheavals, brings an overdose of stress and cortisol in the body resulting in accelerated ageing, heart attacks and cancer.
Leaving a Legacy or Disaster: There have been charismatic leaders who have turned around organizations and are quoted in books worldwide. However, if a CEO, makes one mistake, it is plastered in headlines, in next day news. He or she is the person on whom everybody focuses when things go wrong. No mistake goes unnoticed and every small decision affects millions of dollars and thousands of people. With great power comes great responsibility!
The Absent Spouse/Parent: “About 90 percent struggle with work-life balance, when they talk off the record,” is quoted in the book, The Secrets of CEOs. “I can’t remember my boys growing up. I can’t remember them when they were young. People ask whether you have to make a choice between your family and your career. You definitely do. You can’t have both.”
Jet Lag – Life Lag: Travel, which held an appeal as an executive becomes an encumbrance. Flying over several time zones, endless days in hotel rooms, countless dinners, there’s a craving for the comforts of the home. When family wants to go out to eat, the response of the jet-lagged leader is, ‘lets eat at home!’
What Next: We were coaching a CEO of a multinational and he shared with us that, he feels stagnated after reaching the top of the corporate ladder. He felt that his profession had come to a finality and his post-career career, would just be retirement.
I Have No Boss: It’s funny how executives, who have had tough managers, dream of being their own boss one-day, but it can be terrifying for a new CEOs. The buck stops with him and he needs to manage himself without being told to do what when and how.
Et Tu Brute: The top leader chooses his best second in command, who becomes his clone, his confidant, his friend, and usually he is the one who pulls the rug from under the CEO. We have seen it happen before and will witness it again. It is an emotional punch for a lot of leaders to see their lieutenant attitude change of self-righteousness.
The Corporate Ego: Being an organizational head changes people. Sometimes they evolve into an egoistic form of their previous self. This new self makes them difficult to live with or be friends with; hence they become loners.
Glass Ceiling: If you noticed that I have been referring to CEOs as a ‘he’ is due to the fact that, as of November 2014, women make up only 5.2 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. Since female CEOs are a relatively new concept, women face additional challenges compared to male counterparts. In some cases, women CEOs feel they have to work longer and harder to establish leadership credibility and to get internal and external stakeholders to buy in to their expertise.
The list is non-exhaustive and the iceberg is deeper and wider than we know. It is not easy being at the top of the corporate ladder, but is a wonderful, lofty goal to aspire towards. Good Luck!