Most CEOs and senior executives bring substantial performance profiles with them as they transition to the next stage of their careers. The challenges are no less complex, however, than the ones faced by executives and managers who have yet to enter the C-suite and boardroom.
With this blog series, I hope to spotlight common mistakes, faulty assumptions and poorly conceived job-search plans that impede results for CEOs and senior-level executives. Greater awareness of these issues should remove some or all of the roadblocks and clear the path for more seamless transitions.
My coaching style with clients is very structured but typically executed in a non-linear process since there are crossover challenges and solutions that require on-going attention. So while there will be no distinct chronology to the posts in this blog series I will feature recognizable problems faced by executives in career transition and motivational ideas to start turning things around to improve performance.
CEO CHALLENGE # 1: LOSS OF CONFIDENCE
Let's agree that for many executives there can be a sudden change or loss of status in the hierarchy due to:
- company merger
- company acquisition
- complete or partial change of board directors
- external financial and market conditions.
If these situations ring familiar to you, you are not alone.
In the past, tenure in the C-suite and boardroom was longer. Uncertainty replaces a stronger sense of security. A gadfly shareholder or board director forces a change in the strategic plan that shifts your attention from the original mission and affects progress.
You might choose to stay and adapt. You could leave amicably. Or, you might be forced out because there is no longer any confidence in you. In all of these cases, I've tracked a pattern in my clients that has touched every CEO and senior executive client who I have worked with--a crucial loss of confidence that makes it impossible to move forward swiftly with career plans.
You think: once I was perceived as a business leader, and now I'm viewed as irrelevant.
Career Turnaround Thought:
Acknowledge your lack of self-confidence. Ignore the conventional wisdom to "not take it personally." It happened to you, so of course it's personal. Take a very limited, short-enough time to minimize stress and let the air out of your tires before you're ready for the rubber to hit the road again. Family vacation? Burning it off at the health club? Gardening? Fine. Whatever your interests and passions are, do follow them.
But don't erase your profile completely by assuming that your 24x7 work ethic is an excuse to hide out for too long. If you were unhappy with your former work-life balance then it could be a pretty good indicator that you are indeed ready to move on to the next stage of your executive career. If there are SEC or any other compliance issues that affect your financial package or immediate future employment, understandably you will be in a waiting pattern. That's no excuse, however, to stop talking to people, conducting research, freshening your skill set and knowledge base and believing that you are irrelevant to any future opportunities.
Presumably, you didn't get to be a CEO because you have no business expertise or don't know how to run a company. Not only must you embrace the change but you also need to invest in it, both intellectually and financially.
Stay active in a business community in both formal and informal projects.
You are still relevant and have an important story to tell. Believe in what you did to be an accomplished leader and expert.