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The New CEO: Lessons from CEOs on How to Start Well and Perform Quickly

If you are reading this book as a newly announced or appointed CEO, congratulations!

You are about to embark on something that only a very small percentage of the population ever gets to experience—to lead an organization and all of the people who call it theirs.

Perhaps you’re already in the role. Perhaps you’re getting ready to start. It may be your first time being a CEO. It may be your third. But whatever your circumstances, this is a time of great celebration.

This moment is about recognizing years of hard work and ambition (and, I’m sure, a fair bit of sacrifice along the way). It’s a time when you are at your most energized to execute your vision of a brighter future for your organization. And, of course, for you and your family, too.

Enjoy this feeling. You’ve earned it. And the reality is that you’ll need to keep returning to this place when times get tough. Commonly, that is a when, not an if.

Much of what they say about the CEO role is true: it’s complex, confusing, and often exhausting. This is the most challenging and loneliest role in business (just how lonely is often what takes CEOs by surprise). The scope, gravity, responsibility, accountability, and exposure of the CEO role are unparalleled.

I probably don’t need to remind you that, as CEO, you’re not only responsible for your organization’s strategy, but also for its financial viability, and long-term sustainability. You’re also responsible for the livelihood of its employees (and their families), and in many cases, your suppliers and partners (and their
families, too).

You have no doubt read that CEO turnover is at an all-time high. Our research shows CEOs across the S&P 500 and FTSE 350 lasted an average of 7.6 years in their role in 2022, compared to 9.2 years in 2018.1 And you’re no doubt familiar with the numerous stories of CEOs who didn’t make it past the two-year mark at organizations like HSBC, Procter & Gamble, Apple, Boeing, and Hewlett-Packard.

If CEOs fail, especially early in their tenure, the consequences can be vast. When Fiona Hick, the CEO of Fortescue Metals, one of Australia’s largest companies, stepped down after six months in the role, it immediately wiped off 4% of the share price (approximately $1.5 billion at the time).2

The tremendous amount of pressure and enormous responsibility is why so many people don’t seek the role, and are happy to stay as a key contributor to someone else’s strategic vision—and that’s fine. We can’t all be in charge.

If the responsibility of the role scares you, that’s normal. If it didn’t, I would be concerned.

The trick is to now walk the tightrope over the complex web of feelings and experiences you’ll inevitably face as a new CEO, nimbly stepping between decisiveness, confidence, self-awareness, and empathy to execute your vision and unlock the most life-affirming move of your career.

To continue reading, visit this link to find out more.

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