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The CEO Agenda: A CEO's Sustainability Matters

Successful CEOs approach their job as a marathon, not a sprint.


The CEO Agenda: A CEO's Sustainability Matters

Successful CEOs approach their job as a marathon, not a sprint. Raj Pherwani, leader of Bain's Global Performance Improvement practice, counsels executives to make time for themselves so they have the energy to meet the needs of their families and organizations.

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Read the transcript below.

RAJ PHERWANI: As you well know, to get to this point in your career, you've worked really, really hard. And now that you've achieved this great accomplishment, becoming the CEO, your instinct is probably to work even harder. Am I right?

And what happens is that's just impossible. The reason is, this thing is a marathon. It's not a sprint. And the more you make it a sprint, the faster you'll get tired, and you'll run out of energy, and the organization will see it.

So the most important thing for you is to prioritize, delegate, make sure you've got the right team around you, because they can do a lot. They're very good, too. And create time for yourself to ensure that you've got that pool of energy to come back the next day and the next week and deliver what your organization needs.

Make your personal time, or whatever it is that you need to do to build those reserves of energy, an important part of your agenda. Make it part of your job. Treat it as any other important activity that you would have to do.

Let me give you an example. I have a client who also happens to be a dear friend. He has just become the CEO of a global company. And he's doing what one would advise him to do and what one would expect him to do, which is to visit every part of the company in his first 100 days.

Now, he's young. He's healthy. But he's not Superman. And flying every week to a destination that's on another continent is beginning to wear down on him.

In addition, his kids and his wife are getting to see him from basically Saturday morning till Sunday evening, and that's just not enough. So what's happening is, four or five weeks into the job, he's tired. His throat is beginning to scratch. His kids are calling him and complaining. And he's just not able to put 100% of his attention on the job at hand.

This is a very tough thing, because he's doing probably all the right things that one would advise him to do. But I think he has to factor in that preserving his health and his energy level is part of that job. And I'm trying to help him find ways to dial some of that back so that he can actually give some time to his family and give it to himself. And it's extremely important for his company for him to be able to do the right job.


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