How can you tell if someone’s never been CEO? They say something like, “I really want to be CEO” I never seem to see former CEOs saying that.
A few days ago, Ben Horowitz wrote one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read, all about CEO psychology:
By far the most difficult skill for me to learn as CEO was the ability to manage my own psychology. … Over the years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of CEOs all with the same experience. Nonetheless, 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.
This blog post is a must-read for all CEOs and boards; it’s very good stuff.
Being CEO was the toughest job I’ve ever had, no question. It was an intense and extreme range of emotions: I never laughed so hard, or cried so hard. I went between periods of pure optimism, to periods of deep anxiety with many, many sleepless nights (in both cases). I formed some new, lifelong friendships, all while feeling I let down all of my friends when things didn’t go as planned. CEOs attract more blame than credit; it is the most demanding job in the world.
I’m glad so Ben wrote this, because the “leader” personality type tends to avoid signs of personal weakness. CEOs talk about “managing to the metrics” or “rallying the troops”, but you never hear “I’m depressed”, “I’m tired”, “I need help”, or “the team is pulling me in three different directions and I can’t choose”.
There’s a reason my friend calls the job “CPO” — Chief Psychological Officer. That “other stuff” is usually the Real Stuff.