I was reflecting on TEC Chair Andrew Dick’s article a few weeks ago regarding stress—how he talked about being self-aware of stress and the impact it was has on you.
I started to consider the causes of stress I have seen in the CEOs I have known.
‘The only way to get something done right, is to do it myself!’
One of the most common reasons for stress, is the fear that ‘Unless I do the job. It won’t be done correctly.’
You will be stressed if you can’t manage yourself, your time and your priorities.
You need to learn to delegate in the right manner and have the right people to delegate to.
If you find yourself always in crisis mode, the only way to get out, is to develop a better leadership team, to become a leader not a manager, and to get out of your team’s way.
If you don’t let your team do their job, you’ll just infect them with your stress.
It’s hard though. You know the business well, so it’s quicker to just ‘do it’, rather than explain ‘how to do it’. Or, maybe it’s a critical area of the business, which if not handled the right way, will have a huge impact.
What have been your excuses in the past?
Fear lies behind this behaviour
Fear of failure. Fear of being made to look silly or stupid. Fear of proving what some staff think or say about you. Fear that you will be shown to be incompetent in the CEO role.
Over the years I have seen two extremes of this behaviour. One went back to an unfortunate experience in the person’s childhood. It meant they felt they always had to be in control of every situation.
The other was caused by an unpleasant start in the CEO role when subordinates objected to the CEO appointment (having come from within the organisation) and used Board connections to undermine the new appointment.
That CEO still hasn’t got over that fear despite being a great success and the board confirming their delight on many occasions.
In these situations, the CEO is stuck in the manager role and despite claiming otherwise, they are not being a leader. This is when self-awareness goes out the window.
They always have an excuse for needing to meddle in the day-to-day operations.
Hire people better than you
Another common cause of stress in the CEO is poor hiring. I’ve seen too many people employ candidates who will not threaten their role. Their insecurity reigns, and distorts the fundamental task of delegation.
A successful leader strives to employ people who are smarter than them, or at least show promise to be so.
We tend to accept 70 per cent performance from our employees, because it’s too hard to either mentor or remove them.
Low performance makes it difficult to delegate and results in an overwhelming amount of work for the leader. Again the fear of being shown up lies at the heart of this issue.
When I talk to business owners I have rarely come across this problem. It is the “corporate” CEOs, who most suffer this fear.
They are in a competitive structure where colleagues are constantly trying to demonstrate superiority before the next round of appointments. What they fail to realise is that they cannot be promoted or moved up the chain until they have created their successor.
It is a bold and confident leader who doesn’t fear the success of subordinates, but recognises it, trumpets it to the world and knows they have been a success themselves.
What are you doing to grow your successor?