For many employees, being a CEO is the dream: a huge salary, a big portion of company shares, a generous expense account, and being paid to travel and stay in the world’s best hotels. And every year, the perks attributed to being a CEO seem to get bigger and bigger. It’s a job that many of us look at and think we could easily do if only given the opportunity. But before you start traveling down that route, there are a few things you need to know that can make your job so much hell, your millions of dollars in salary won’t make you sleep better at night.
Your Personal Views and Opinions will be Constantly Judged
Last month, Will Oremus from Slate wrote an article titled “If You’re Against Gay Marriage, You’re a Bad CEO.” In it, he described how “we’ve reached a point where not supporting gay marriage makes you unfit to lead a major Silicon Valley organization”, making specific reference to former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned only 10 days after accepting his new position. What Oremus was really getting at, though, is CEOs are no longer able to trumpet their own personal views with complete disregard for public sway, as the backlash is now a difference-maker in how that company is publicly received.
And if you think what you say on your own time really shouldn’t matter, just take a look at Donald Sterling. One thing his supporters said — acknowledging that Sterling’s comments were wrong, backwards and disgusting — is that he spoke privately and that should be handled differently.
It’s not like that anymore.
CEOs are now representatives of their company all the time, and the line between their personal and work lives is becoming increasingly blurred. Your personal views are extensions of your company’s policies and if they’re not in line with what the majority wants to hear, expect to get pilloried harshly.
If You’re Female, People will Try to Make You Quit Every Day
We’re nowhere close to gender equality in the workplace, and the CEO position is the best (worst?) example of this. Take Locket CEO Yunha Kim, for instance. She — among many other females — has pointed out that “If you are aggressive, you are a bitch. If you are emotional, you are PMSing.” But flip this to men and their outward countenances are suddenly pluses: being aggressive is seen as smartly taking control of a situation and exercising leadership, and being emotional makes him seem like he’s able to really understand the nuances of the situation.
But Kim points out something else that men don’t typically experience as CEOs, and that’s when people deliberately blur the lines between personalism and professionalism. When it came time for her to hire engineers, she received an email from one who wrote: “Hey Yunha, I’m pretty happy with current job, but if you’re single I’d like to date you. Perhaps there are some unconventional ways to lure me away from my company (besides stock options) if you know what I mean ;)”.
You’re on the Hook for Fixing EVERYTHING
There’s a reason CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer, and that’s because you’re the captain of the ship. No matter if the previous captain put you right in the middle of an iceberg field with the ship heading toward it full speed, it’s now your responsibility to steer it to safety.
Microsoft is a prime example of this. They’re an absolute giant in the world, never mind just the computer world, and they’re looking for a CEO. But despite this opening for what’s got to be one of the best, cushiest jobs in the world, applicants aren’t sending in their resumes.
They’re at a painful crosswords where they have to decide where the company will be headed in the future. Are they going to be focusing on cloud software? Or will they continue with hardware, which has long been their bread and butter? And with about 100,000 employees, getting everyone onboard will be like “trying to turn a battleship on a lake”, according to Joel Koblentz, a senior partner at executive recruiting company Koblentz Group.