Being a hypocrite is an occupational hazard of being a CEO Advisor, at least an honest one. I find myself offering a strong opinion to a client while at the same time on the inside thinking, “Physician, heal thyself” more times than I am comfortable with. This is particularly true when reflecting on the difficult and lonely choices that I, like my CEO clients, am sometimes faced with. Certainly, I am aware of the danger of being too sure about one’s own opinion. A healthy skepticism regarding one’s own judgment is a virtue.
That said, it is equally true that excessive caution is a path to failure. Effective leaders must be self-actualizing, as the term is used in Clayton Lafferty’s Lifestyles Inventory. According to Lafferty, self-actualizing is characterized by an enduring belief in ourselves and our ability to make a difference. To the extent a CEO is self-actualizing she can risk standing alone and making tough decisions based on her personal judgment, even in the face of resistance.
Despite well publicized exceptions like Travis Kalanick, until recently founder and CEO of Uber, most CEOs in my experience err on the side of caution. Here is a quote from a blog I wrote last November that articulates a core belief that drives our work at The Bailey Group:
“…becoming CEO offers you a unique opportunity and… responsibility. To lead means to have the courage to decide on a vision and strategy (in consultation with the board and ELT) for your organization and then moving relentlessly and courageously to execute on the vision…Establishing vision and strategy is not a consensus exercise. The very essence of leadership is the courage and willingness to take the organization where only you and your unique personality, experiences, judgment and skill set can lead it.”
I rarely have the patience to watch a nine-minute video. However, a friend shared one with me recently that I found inspiring and a wonderful example of the courageous self-actualizing approach I am describing:
Our job as CEO Advisors at The Bailey Group is to challenge and inspire extraordinary people to become the transformational leaders they are capable of being despite the doubt and resistance (both from within themselves and from the environment) that they inevitably face. We’d be honored to support you in creating your legacy of transformation at your organization.