CEO Psychology

Fun tech crunch piece on CEO psychology.

Heart of the article is:

And to rub salt into the wound and make matters worse, it’s your fault.

I enjoyed the article, but didn’t feel quite the same way about being a CEO.

The “soaking up the stress” part never seemed too difficult. In fact, being CEO is arguably the least stressful job in the company – because you have more opportunity than anyone to address problems, and are less required than anyone to put up with them – though of course the CEO will see plenty of issues they have to live with, too, just because some challenges are too low priority to be worth going after immediately.

Having to live with a wrong call that negatively impacts people can be stressful. However, I think most CEOs have a “nobody’s perfect, you just play the percentages” kind of attitude that allows them to live with their own bad calls. And more often than not, as things go wrong, you can recalibrate in any case.

The one thing I do think is difficult is the time lapse between changes and their effect. For instance, suppose you have an engineering team that has gone bad. It might take 6 months to rebuild the team, then another year to rebuild the product. During all that time, you have to keep yourself interested in the problems, motivated to solve them, and you have to find ways to survive the fallout until the problems are finally dealt with. Plus you have to keep the team and the company positive, while those 18 months pass slowly by – perhaps with a background of customer complaints, partner frustration, and so on. That is a psychological challenge.

But I guess for me the psychological of other people – employees, customers, partners, and other stakeholders – always occupied a lot more mental space than personal stress.



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2 responses to “CEO Psychology

  1. mcale

    Interesting that the author used female pronouns throughout. Very unusual. Why do you think he did that? How did it make you read the article differently?

    Incidentally, you could mention your family among the other stakeholders whose psychology impacts on the CEO’s decision making abilities. Being a CEO certainly has a large impact on them.

  2. > Why do you think he did that?
    [DG] To make a point 🙂
    Is it just me, or has the use of “she” as gender neutral faded a bit in the last couple of years? The “singular plural” (they/their) seems almost universal now in tech.

    > family
    [DG] Definitely. That’s true.