/ The 5 Stages of CEO Grief

According to the Kübler-Ross model, someone in the throes of a life-altering event may pass through five emotional stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

Executives deal with life-altering events like everyone else, but their business decisions have company-altering consequences. Applying the Kübler-Ross model to management offers a fresh perspective on leadership and decision-making.

Step #1: Denial 

That? That was just a fluke. A fluke that lasted all quarter.

Sales are up, you’re within budget, employee churn is low—and then something happens. A sudden spike or dip seemingly out of nowhere. But when everything’s humming along, it’s tempting to write off those blips on the radar.

The boundaries of confidence and complacency run close together. Good leadership involves thinking ahead and setting the wheels in motion. Learn from Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric:

“My biggest mistake by far was not moving faster. Pulling off a Band-Aid one hair at a time hurts a lot more than a sudden yank. Of course you want to avoid breaking things or stretching the organization too far — but generally human nature holds you back. You want to be liked, to be thought of as reasonable. So you don’t move as fast as you should. Besides hurting more, it costs you competitiveness. Everything should have been done in half the time.”

Step #2: Anger 

That? That was just a fluke. A fluke that lasted all quarter.

No matter how keyed in you are with your business, it can be easy to miss red flags or golden opportunities. Unfortunately, what’s obvious in hindsight isn’t always clear in the moment. It happens to the best—even Bill Gates.

In the mid-1990s, the Internet was picking up steam, but it was being driven by Netscape, not Microsoft. Bill Gates hunkered down for one of his twice-yearly “Think Weeks” (no family, friends, email, phone) and came away with the realization that Microsoft was missing the Internet opportunity.

The next day, Bill Gates urged everyone at the company to incorporate the Internet into their projects—and within two years, Netscape was near-irrelevant.

Step # 3: Bargaining

How did I miss that? Where can I buy a crystal ball?

When something goes wrong, it’s only natural to dwell on what could have happened differently. If only, what if, it won’t happen again.

Once you’re committed to charting a new course, there’s no understating the value that a solid team can give you. But no matter how many resources you throw at solutions, outcomes are often a mixed bag.

Step # 4: Depression

I want to run away and join the circus.

If you’ve ever wanted to move to a desert island where no one can prod you for answers, you’re not alone. The C-suite is the stopgap for everything in the organization funnels down, and that can be exhausting.

That exhaustion, however, is where danger lurks. Take it from Ted Turner, the founder of TBS and CNN:

“The biggest mistake I ever made . . . was bringing Time Warner into the consortium of cable operators for that five hundred and something million that we needed to pay down the debt that we incurred when we acquired MGM.

I shouldn’t have done that, I shouldn’t have let them have the veto, but I was tired . . . After thirty years of working 18 hours a day, five or six days a week with one crisis after another . . . I was tired. And when you’re tired you don’t make the best decisions.”

Step #5: Acceptance

Okay. I need a system.

You can’t make the right calls all the time. You can’t forsee unintended consequences. And no matter what precautions you take, you’ll probably look back and regret a few doozy mistakes or missed chances.

But executive leadership is a game of risk and compromise—facilitating what could go right while mitigating what could go wrong. To do this well, you need reliable information and seamless communication. You need a business management platform that empowers your team with insights.

Domo can’t completely stop CEOs from experiencing grief, but it can tell you quarterly sales versus forecasted sales, in real-time. And by managing your entire business from a single platform, you and your team will have the information to make fast data-driven decisions. Imagine no more manual reporting, no more analyzing yesterday’s data, no more unnecessary ‘let’s sync-up’ meetings. Don’t live another day without complete access to your data. Request a custom video demo of Domo today.




Tags: Executives

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