CEOs on the cusp

Every so often I try to share a broad perspective about what I’m seeing across my CEO advisory landscape in order for you to make a comparison with other CEOs, or recognise similar challenges that CEOs are facing to yours.

My hope is that it a) gives you a sense that you are not alone, and b) gives you some ideas or inspiration to push on.

‘Pushing on’ matters because it’s linked to ambition, and ambition is a marker of sorts: about your level of vitality as well as a measure of your clarity of purpose.

Being on the cusp is probably a familiar position that you find yourself in as a CEO. There is a constant barrage of stimuli coming at you which can either function as an inspiration or a threat. Knowing this is one thing, but acting on it is another and these actions require courage. Maybe some encouragement or prompting might push you over the rise and get you going on a more profound path.


Here’s what I’m seeing:


  • The CEO’s choice to take on the new ways of operating that are now on offer, given the maturing understanding of what a relevant and modern business is.
  • The decision to embrace leadership as a performance-enhancing lever and to invest generously in building good leaders around the CEO.
  • The choice to interrogate the base viability of your business to ensure its future competitiveness and to be brave about revealing the blind spots that are so prevalent in business strategies and which keep businesses stuck in 2nd gear.
  • The willingness to embrace the fact that the CEO position is a complex, nuanced position that requires deep attention being paid to the quality of the CEO’s development.  A CEO’s character in particular.
  • To embrace the fact that most CEOs are, in fact, struggling, and to do what it takes to change their reality from dis-ease to ease.
  • To accept the fact that budgeting, as a practice is on balance, a poor investment of time and energy and to move to a more flexible, responsive way of allocating capital.
  • To bravely accept when a business model has lost its edge and to come up with a new and better formula for success in order to reinvigorate a business.

The common denominator is ‘will’. The will to change or elevate. There are plenty of reasons not to, given that remaining as-is offers the (false) specter of safety.

That’s a form of being ‘on the cusp’: teetering, wondering, hoping, waiting.

If that’s where you feel you are, then push on. Take the leap.

Fortune favours the brave in this new world of work.

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My weekly missive, CEO Sundays, is published at 5pm every Sunday evening. The writings cover CEO topics exclusively: how-to’s; thought starters; leadership insights; reflection opportunities; research.

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