Every once in a while I come across a blog post that so totally nails something and I am reminded why professionals blogging about their craft is such an important development in the world of media. Yesterday Ben Horowitz posted about the psychology of being CEO. He starts with this observation:
very few people talk about it, and I have never read anything on the topic. It’s like the fight club of management: The first rule of the CEO psychological meltdown is don’t talk about the psychological meltdown
Ben goes on to observe that:
building a multi-faceted human organization to compete and win in a dynamic, highly competitive market turns out to be really hard. If CEOs were graded on a curve, the mean on the test would be 22 out of a 100. This kind of mean can be psychologically challenging for a straight A student. It is particularly challenging, because nobody tells you that the mean is 22
I have never been a CEO. I don't think I would be a very good CEO. I have observed hundreds of CEOs from up close in my career from a perspective that is fairly unique and revealing. I have great empathy for the people who find themselves in this job. It is hard, lonely, and as Ben points out – it can really mess with the mind.
Ben goes on to identify a number of tools he used to help him manage the psychological challenges of the job.
If you are a CEO, work closely with CEOs, are married or in a serious relationship with a CEO, sit on Boards where a CEO is accountable to you, or if you want to be a CEO, the post is a must read.
I'd like to thank Ben for writing it and breaking "the first rule of CEO psychological meltdown."