February 19, 2012

Bitter Truth: Most CEOs Are Very Lonely

The term "CEO" sounds like a synonymous with power, wealth, prestige, influence. But have you ever wondered these synonyms are nothing more than a myth! Be it an overstated package, heated boardroom clashes, arguments with executive officers, few people feel sorry for CEOs and this situation is unlikely to see any change. It is no more a hidden fact that today's business leaders are facing some genuine troubles and 'loneliness' is one of them.

RHR International has come up with a CEO Snapshot Survey, which reveals that most of the CEOs suffer from feeling of loneliness and around 61 percent of them have a belief that it hinders their performance. First-time CEOs are mainly vulnerable to this isolation. This feeling is not only limited to CEOs but it also affects any person with new found authority. Listed below are take away points: Why CEOs are lonely?

CEOs tend to get a lot of support when it comes to the board room. But going by the survey, most of the CEOs feel that they don't receive actual feedback which they expect from the board members. Boards are a productive foundation of feedback and support for CEOs. Around 96 percent of them feel that they can speak honestly to certain directors in regard to their performance and impact of their decisions. While 59 percent look at the board as the most beneficial source of feedback. 50 percent of leaders feel that director serves the key role, pointing towards the growing importance of finding the right person for this board position.

CEOs always have a roadmap in hand, but when it comes to actually implementing that, they find themselves tangled in various complications. According to CEOs, the communication and board relation begins to break down during the process of planning. Around 76 percent of CEOs believe they should be more concerned in planning their own progression, and many CEOs report that miscommunication with the board about assortment of decisions and responsibilities is the most thorny part of this process. Dr. Thomas J. Saporito, Chairman and CEO of RHR International, said, "Succession planning is full of complex psychological nuances, such as the incumbent CEO's readiness to step down, that can make it a very difficult process. Earlier RHR research also shows CEOs need more clarity from and alignment with boards during transitions into and out of the C-suite."

"All that glitters is not gold", this phrase sounds very relevant here. The position of a CEO might look attractive but throne with thorns. There is a huge difference when it comes to CEOs' self-declared awareness for the job and what they experience when they presume the role. 87 percent of all CEOs sensed to be prepared for the job, but around 54 percent say it was different from what they actually anticipated. When looking at first-time CEOs only, 91 percent felt ready for the job and 72 percent report it was unusual from their original expectations. Dr. Saporito said, "Stress, pressure, and loneliness all combine to create a job unlike any other they have previously had."

The passion of the CEO's job, tied with the dearth of peers to divulge in, generates treacherous feelings of isolation among chief executives. 50 percent of all CEOs report practicing loneliness in the role, and 61 percent believe that the isolation holds back their performance. First-time CEOs are predominantly prone to this isolation, with nearly 70 percent of those who experience loneliness saying it depressingly affects their ability to do their jobs. Nearly half of all CEOs estimate that most other leaders experience similar feelings of loneliness.

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