This is What Keeps Most CEO’s Up at Night

A lot of people in leadership dream about becoming the CEO of a company. The opportunity to lead people from the top, develop strategies, and make an impact in the world is an exciting prospect for many people.

As an executive leadership coach, I have the privilege of working with numerous CEOs. I know their enthusiasm and passion firsthand, but I also know what keeps many of them up at night. Here is a little insight into the things that trouble CEOs:

The human reality of leadership. Many CEOs are excited about processes and development and strategy, but they struggle with the human factor of leadership. People want to work with a leader they resonate with, and building close ties to people at every level is one of the most important parts of leadership. CEOs need to be able to talk  about their values and let people know who they are if they want to attract and keep the best people. It comes naturally to some, but for those who are more private or introverted it can be a worrisome prospect.

Talent management. When I talk with CEOs, talent-related issues almost always come up as an area of concern. Once the province of the human resources department, talent management—establishing corporate structures for recruiting, hiring, and retaining the very best people in their field—has grown in importance and can take as much as 20 percent of a CEO’s time. Top people have plenty of opportunities, and to be competitive in recruiting and retaining them means creating a work experience keyed to the factors that drive them.

Creating new business models in light of disruptive technologies. CEOs work within an ever-shifting landscape of business and technology, and they’re expected to  constantly be finding new ways of getting things done while maintaining output and efficiencies. Staying in front of rapid changes on multiple fronts takes ingenuity and creativity, and it’s a common source of stress among CEOs.

Building a strong management team. Even the greatest leader needs a strong management team, and as companies grow they often outpace their management expertise. CEOs are concerned with identifying the right managers inside and outside the organization, getting them in the right places, and leading them with a consistent focus on strategic initiatives and problem solving. It’s not an easy task.

The flux of the world. Faced with a complex balance of global power centers, shifting economies, and geopolitical threats, a growing number of CEOs find themselves dealing with multiple value systems and multidimensional frameworks. A majority—58 percent—said they find it difficult to balance global competition and protectionist tendencies. Many CEOs are required to set their organization’s purpose within a context of worldwide changes and opportunities.

Building and maintaining trust. The days are gone when the CEO of a company was rarely accessible to the customer, when consumers had little knowledge of how a product is produced and a supply chain is crafted. Today’s CEOs are held to a very high standard in a public conversation carried out over traditional or social media. They know they will be scrutinized and their decisions evaluated not only within their organization but also by the public. In the face of such transparency, building and maintaining trust is more important than ever.

Staying ahead of the competition. CEOs think and analyze and debate and converse about how best to stay competitive in a crowded marketplace. The smartest have figured out that instead of just attending to their competitors, they have to focus on their organization’s unique differentiators and value proposition to stay ahead of the curve. It’s a stressful balance, especially when the livelihoods of people are on the line.

Any great CEO has a lot on their plate, and that lends itself to worry and sleepless nights. But it’s the leader who can take it all in stride—and even find joy in the complexity—who is the most successful.

Lead from within: The best thing leaders can do when they are worried is to slow down within themselves so they can catch up to what is happening on the outside.


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The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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