CEO Stress: Take This Job and …

December 7, 2010 | By | Add a Comment

Today’s WSJ pages B2 and B3 were filled with stories about executives resigning. James Turner, the second highest-paid executive of Duke Energy is leaving after an inspector general thought he was too chummy with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (this is the fourth Duke CEO to leave due to questionable relationships with regulators). Kellogg’s CEO, David Mackay is resigning due to, among other things, getting hammered by the FTC for making false nutrition claims for its cereals that include Rice Krispies and Frosted Flakes.

Swedish phone giant Ericsson’s Chairman Michael Treschow is resigning after nine years on the job and many successes to his credit. Treschow is not the CEO of the company but gets credit for a lot of strategic moves at Ericsson. He is also the Chairman of the mammoth Unilever which makes about every consumer product that P&G doesn’t make.

Lastly, Pfizer’s CEO, Jeffery Kindler, is resigning because he is over-stressed. I struggled with the story that this guy resigned due to job stress. I guess I am surprised that more CEO’s don’t leave for this reason. I think they do, it just doesn’t get reported that way. They leave for “personal reasons” or to “spend more time with their family”. I think they leave because they get sick – physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. I can’t blame them.

 Kindler was also head of the pharmaceutical industry’s trade group, as if he didn’t have enough going at his paid gig! He had struggle for a year to find a second in command to take over some operations duties. At 55 he exits with a stock price 1/3 lower than when he took over as CEO.

 How does he leave fried and the Ericsson guy leaves a winner while chairing two Fortune 100 companies and other CEO’s like Larry Ellison have the time to compete in the America’s Cup?

CEO jobs have to be carefully structured in order to make the role sustainable for even the hardiest constitutions. I also wonder if being a CEO of a mega-company isn’t left for those called to it versus just those ambitious and hard-working enough to land and keep the job.

 What do you think?

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Executive coach, top team facilitator, author and speaker. I work with individual leaders and their teams to help navigate personal and professional transitions and to increase leadership capacity and improve communication and relationship skills. I founded my coaching firm in 2001 following 12 years asa CEO. Check out more on me and my coaching process in my book "The Business of Wanting More: Why Some Executives Move from Success to Fulfillment and Others Don't"

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