Who’s best-placed to support your CEO as they face the pressures of COVID-19?

05 May 2020

Who’s best-placed to support your CEO as they face the pressures of COVID-19?

Whoever an under-pressure chief executive turns to for support, our report describes why all sources of advice come with important compromises.

It’s lonely at the top, as any Chief Executive will testify. And it’s never been more pressured. We hardly need to mention why that’s particularly the case right now.

Even before the pandemic, a business environment, characterised by globalisation, technological acceleration, and the watchful presence of investors, the media, regulators and government, ensures that scrutiny, accountability and responsibility are ever-present companions.

The decisions get bigger, the consequences of failure become more profound. As one chief executive says: “You know a lot of things that are secret and the number of people you can confide in is very few. Not to be lonely in the role is almost impossible.”

Worryingly for businesses, however, there is increasing evidence that loneliness has a negative impact on executive performance.

Feelings of isolation can hinder a chief executive’s ability to do their job, with first-time chief executives particularly at risk of underperformance.

No need to feel alone

But amongst it all, the CEO shouldn’t feel isolated, even in a virtual working world.

Today’s chief executive should be well supported by executive and non-executive colleagues from whom advice and counsel can be sought.

Externally, there is no shortage of professional mentors or coaches who can ease the loneliness of command.

Based on ongoing conversations with numerous chief executives, chairs and others, our report examines the various constituencies to which a chief executive can turn and how those relationships can support the individual in the top job.

Equally, we test why each of these relationships may be compromised in ways that impede true candour.

Our report covers the following questions:

  • Turning to the chair: what are the benefits and the limitations of this most-important relationship at the top?
  • Non-executive advice: is it all just a matter of trust?
  • Executive directors: who are the most useful advisers, and why?
  • Mentors and coaches: are they a critical part of a CEO’s executive development?
  • Friends and family: is it best to leave work matters to the workplace?

Less lonely at the top

Download our report 'Less lonely at the top: supporting the CEO'.

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To discuss any aspect of CEO, Chair or Board appointment, support or development, please get in touch. We’d be happy to help in any way we can.