CEO Wellbeing is a Board Priority: Time to tackle work-life and job challenges of the corner office.

Author:Kenney, Caren

We are starting to hear more and more from top leaders of organizations on their personal struggles as a result of their role--whether it's a Fortune 100 CEO reflecting on personal sacrifices and impact on her family, or a high-profile entrepreneur calling out concerns about his mental wellbeing in a way no other executive has candidly shared before. Many CEOs are feeling the pressure of their demanding jobs.

August marked the highest month of CEO turnover in history. Each time there is an unplanned CEO dismissal it costs shareholders billions and unsettles employees and customers. The accelerating rate of CEO turnover has reached a point where it can no longer be ignored.

How is it that so many CEOs with significant experience, impeccable records and great passion for their work--despite being vetted by HR, their predecessors and the board--suddenly struggle in roles they worked so hard to achieve?

Leadership performance is fueled by personal wellbeing

When the demands, pace and schedules intensify, leaders often deprioritize their physical wellbeing (e.g., exercise, nutrition, sleep), time for mental recovery (e.g., vacation days), and quality time with the people who matter most to them. They may even turn to unhealthy behaviors to help cope with the stress.

A non-stop pace without frequent--even if very small--energy recovery in the mental, emotional and physical domains can cause burnout and impact focus, performance and quality of decision-making. The role is also highly isolating, with leaders questioning who they can trust during a time when they need more support than ever.

A leader's emotional intelligence and strength of character cannot truly be measured until subjected to intense pressure, which is often too late. This is a growing issue, with a 36% increase in CEO dismissals due to ethical lapses.

No CEO wants to fail. In fact, most are deeply passionate about making a difference in roles that culminate from years of hard work and professional investment. We see this in our confidential work training CEOs and other leaders who want to achieve higher levels of energy and resilience and to demonstrate strong character.

The reality is many leaders are at risk, and we must take a different approach to preparing the C-suite for leadership. We must not only ensure "resume readiness" but also their "wellbeing readiness."

What is the board's role?

While inquiring about a leader's wellbeing can feel like none of your business, in...

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