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Thursday, June 25, 2009

CEO Fatigue and What You Can Do About It

“Well, Doc how bad is it?” asked Bob Bizibee, ABC Company’s CEO. “I’ve seen this before with other CEOs like you,” said Dr. Foster. “It starts out as a small rash, but before you know it, you’re not sleeping at night, you’re kicking the dog, and you’re yelling at your neighbors for looking at your grass.” “Hey I‘ve been busy, and the grass isn’t more than two feet tall,” screams Bob. “Bob,” said Dr. Foster, “I’m afraid you have NPNR - No Plan, No Results.” “Yep, Doc, that’s it – you nailed it,” said Bob.

Do you have NPNR? Do these symptoms fit you?”

  • Crazy-busy – yet, you don’t exactly know where your time actually goes
  • Overwhelmed - by the day-to-day tasks of running your company – but, you’re not spending enough time on building your organization
  • Frustrated - by unfinished projects and the lack of consistent results
  • Drained - by the energy it takes to make all the decisions – and want to delegate more
  • Disappointed - that your team doesn’t have the same passion for your vision
  • Exhausted - because you’re working too much, and playing too little

If misery loves company, then you’re in “good” company. Many CEOs just like you are fatigued from the pressures of managing the business during these tough times.

How do you know you might be suffering from NPNR?

Take the following quiz (4=strongly agree, 3=agree, 2=disagree, 1=strongly disagree)

  1. I don’t have time to work on what’s really important.
  2. We have a strategy, but no clear plan for executing it.
  3. We can’t seem to follow a consistent plan from year to year.
  4. We have great planning meetings, but lose all momentum within days or weeks following them.
  5. We have employees who waste a lot of time on non-essential activities.
  6. We don’t have a good way to know if we’re improving, getting worse or staying the same.
  7. We seem to know what to do, but we just don’t seem to get it done.
  8. We seem to make the same mistakes over and over again.
  9. We don’t have an easy or consistent way to do meaningful employee reviews.
  10. We don’t have a clear plan for leadership succession.

(If you scored over 25, stop what you’re doing and seek out professional business coaching help.)

Let’s face it – being the CEO (or president, or owner, or whatever title/role you have) – is a lonely job. And yes, the challenges of being the CEO are enormous – but, there’s good news: there IS a systematic approach to handle these ongoing pressures.

What if I were to suggest that there was a way for you and your organization to:

  • Get better (by “get better” – you can use whatever definition makes sense to you –revenue, profit, productivity, utilization, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction)
  • More importantly – stay better
  • And do all this - with less stress and more fun?

What does it take?

  1. The ability to accept and embrace change. Face reality. If you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone, as the old saying goes: “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”
  2. The ability to delegate. A big part of being a leader is to learn to trust your team. Be clear about your vision, provide direction and support, measure their progress - and let them do their job.
  3. The ability to spend time ON your business. Creating a culture of ownership and accountability within your business and making sure that systems and processes are in place so you can spend more time working “ON” the business – not just “IN” the business. Set a realistic plan in place and live up to the plan

BOTTOMLINE: Execution is a systematic process of rigorously discussing what, how, and why, questioning, tenaciously following through, and ensuring accountability. In its most fundamental sense, execution is a systematic way of exposing reality and acting on it. Most companies and their leaders don’t face reality very well. That is the basic reason they can't execute. However, set a plan, communicate the plan, follow the plan and the business improves. (By the way, that rash will go away too....)

(Eric Kurjan is the President of Six Disciplines Northwest Ohio. Six Disciplines brings “big company” process improvement to organizations looking break beyond the status quo. For more information visit, or call 419-348-1897.)

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