To the (CEO) manor born…or not?

I encounter many CEOs who resist the term ‘CEO’.

It saddens me, to be honest, knowing what joy awaits those who fully embrace what being a CEO offers.

However, I also have empathy for the individual as there is something that clearly scares them about being a CEO. It varies as to what the fear is, but it’s generally about either the (presumed) ego that they feel accompanies the title, or the threat of being seen as bearing the full load of responsibility alone as the CEO is often perceived to do.

Both fears are entirely valid.

I often tussle with what to offer such CEOs by way of guidance. I generally tend to accept their view and wait for the joy of the CEO position to reveal itself, which it usually does over time.

But I do sit uncomfortably with their dis-ease. I felt as though writing about it here might be helpful for any of you CEOs who might resonate with these feelings of resistance.

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Here is my guidance on this topic, if you resonate with this resistance:

  • Interrogate your thinking. Resistance is just a thought, or a construct, but it can lead to far-reaching implications.
  • Understand what being a CEO truly involves, exploring the position’s fullest potential. It’s likely to be very different to what you perceive it to be on account of the broad optionality that comes with the position. A CEO can be anything you wish it to be, so just optimise the position for you and your personal preferences.
  • Go all the way to understanding your fears – get specific about them rather than staying at a broad, vague level of merely not being attracted to the title. Getting to the bottom of those fears will be helpful as these fears will likely be fairly pervasive in other aspects of your life too.

To explore this topic further as part of your CEO journey, or benchmark yourself against 14 CEO best practices, email me today to start your reflection.

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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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