The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Harowitz
Ben Horowitz writes of the hardest things about being a CEO. He said that the most difficult thing is to manage your own psychology. He says that hiring, firing, product and organization design are straightforward skills.
One problem is that to learn to be a CEO, you have to be a CEO. No amount of training prepares you for the job. Even if you know what you are doing things will go wrong. As CEO, you will feel responsible for everything and anything that will go wrong will be your fault. A mistake that most CEOs make is taking things too personally or not taking things personally enough. According to Harowitz, a CEO will be urgent yet not insane. They will move aggressively and decisively without feeling emotionally culpable. They will need to separate the importance of the issues with how they feel about the issue. The author advises that to calm your nerves as a CEO, you should get some friends, put your thoughts on paper not carry them around in your head, and focus on the road, not the wall. Don’t focus constantly on what can go wrong. Focus on where the company is going rather than what you hope to avoid. Many times CEOs feel like quitting. Many have trouble with not sleeping, drinking, and stress. Harowitz says most CEOs have different strategic moves but most just say “I didn’t quit”.
Harowitz explains that there are two kinds of CEOs. He labels them as ones and twos. The ones spend time gathering information, love making decisions, but get bored with the important execution details of running a company. The twos love making the company run well. They insist on super clear goals and love action. Big decisions worry twos more that ones. The best CEOs have a combination of traits for ones and twos.
The author points out that there is no perfect CEO. The most important attribute is leadership. Three key traits of a leader are the ability to articulate the vision, the right kind of ambition, and the ability to achieve the vision.
Horowitz, B. (2014). The hard thing about hard things: Building a business when there are no easy answers.