I recently facilitated a session with a group of female CEOs. It was a diverse group in terms of age and years of experience in CEO roles. We talked about many things, with a focus very much on the role of the CEO and the role of the Board, as well as the important relationship that exists between the CEO and Board, especially the Chair. There was a lot to talk about.
What the session reinforced for me was what I have always known… regardless of how long you have been a CEO and how experienced you are, there is always a need at some time to have someone or a group of people to talk to who are independent and external to your CEO role. That could be a friend, a partner, a colleague, another CEO, a coach or mentor, or a group of people in similar roles or industries to listen, guide, advise, help problem-solve and provide support when it’s needed.
Sometimes this can be a formal arrangement that happens on a regular basis, such as coaching and mentoring or being part of a support group, or it could be an informal arrangement that happens on a needs basis. When things get tough or overwhelming, as they sometimes do, it’s important to know you have a strategy in place to help you get through.
Being a CEO is a challenging role, but extremely rewarding. Often there isn’t a great deal of support available for new CEOs. Those first 100 days can be tough. I have been a CEO for nearly 20 years. I love what I do, but I also know that I can’t do it alone. I know that I need a team of capable people around me at work, a supportive Board, trusted advisors who I can talk to when needed and coaches and mentors to guide me in different areas of my work. Often female CEOs juggle many roles. Sometimes the message of support is as simple as reminding us to look after ourselves and take time out to do just that.
If you are a CEO or aspiring CEO, what support do you access when things get tough?