Finally, someone understands: What it’s like to be a CEO

From What’s The Most Difficult CEO Skill? Managing Your Own Psychology by Ben Horowitz:

If I’m Doing a Good Job, Why Do I Feel So Bad?

Even if you know what you are doing, things go wrong. Things go wrong, because building a multi-faceted human organization to compete and win in a dynamic, highly competitive market turns out to be really hard. If CEOs were graded on a curve, the mean on the test would be 22 out of a 100. This kind of mean can be psychologically challenging for a straight A student. It is particularly challenging, because nobody tells you that the mean is 22.

If you manage a team of 10 people, it’s quite possible to do so with very few mistakes or bad behaviors. If you manage an organization of 1,000 people it is quite impossible. At a certain size, your company will do things that are so bad that you never imagined that you’d be associated with that kind of incompetence. Seeing people fritter away money, waste each other’s time, and do sloppy work can make you feel bad. If you are the CEO, it may well make you sick.

And to rub salt into the wound and make matters worse, it’s your fault.

(1) This is a short excerpt. The full article is remarkable.
(2) As I read it, I kept thinking “Finally, someone understands what it’s like to be a CEO. And maybe this would be helpful for other CEOs and the people who interact with them: VCs, employees, spouses, and partners.”

7 thoughts on “Finally, someone understands: What it’s like to be a CEO

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