The Psychology of the CEO

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What exactly is the psychology of the CEO? Executives are a different breed. Do you know how to speak their language?

Years ago, as I began my MBA program, I remember everyone introducing themselves as part of orientation. Part of the exercise was describing your last full-time job.

The answers, from around the room:

  • “Professional engineer”
  • “Analyst with Price Waterhouse”
  • “Investment banker”
  • “Entrepreneur”

..and then it was my turn.

Batman Stunt Show

My last job? “Professional stuntman,” I said.

And, believe me, nothing says “Put Me In Charge” like show business – especially if it includes fake fights, explosions, and that sort of thing. My psychology – or at least my work history – was all wrong for a CEO position.

I wanted to get into a CEO role. What kind of stunt was I trying to pull?

In my career, you could say that I have had some things that I have had to overcome. You could say that, and it would be an understatement.

More accurately, you might wonder if someone like me would ever have the potential to lead anything. I know I certainly did, and it made me work harder than ever to understand what was missing in my corporate career.

Yes, it’s true that my last job before I entered the MBA program was working as a professional stuntman. And it’s also true that I still do all of my own stunts.

In my career, I guess I’ve traded punches with the best of them. I’ve answered phones, delivered food, and done data entry work. I’ve also built and led teams on multiple continents, introduced innovative technology to some of the most advanced hotels in the world, redefined a company’s entire internet strategy, launched two businesses, and published a couple of books. My passion, today, is helping others to avoid some of the same mistakes I made on my journey. And, yes, I am a CEO of three different companies – but I don’t feel as if “I’ve arrived” at all.

My point, and I do have one, is that I have had to become a student of success, in order to accomplish anything more impressive than dodging a [fake] punch. In order to go from the green room to the board room, I had to understand the psychology of the CEO – a mindset that once seemed very foreign to me.

Hopefully, your path is not as strange and challenging as mine. But, because of my unusual circumstances, I have an unusual perspective. And for your consideration: that unusual perspective has created some unusual results.

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