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Bosses Say It Is, Indeed, Lonely at the Top

Bosses Say It Is, Indeed, Lonely at the Top Credit: Deklofenak | Dreamstime.com

It's lonely at the top, and CEOs know that better than anyone, according to a new poll.

While being a CEO may come with prestige and financial benefits, a study by RHR International, a global executive talent development firm, revealed that the high-ranking position is often accompanied by isolation. Public company CEOs are particularly susceptible to such moods, with nearly half having feelings of loneliness compared with 31 percent of private company CEOs.

Most CEOs, however, have someone they can lean on for feedback. More than 80 percent said they have at least one individual they can go to who will tell them the unvarnished truth about their decisions and how the organization perceives them.

The majority of CEOs report that person as being a lead director, but they also said they regularly turn to members of their executive teamand nonexecutive board members.

When it comes to planning for their eventual departure, the research found that 27 percent of CEOs are most concerned with identifying the type of leader their organization will need in the future. Another quarter of CEOs were most worried about relinquishing the power and prestige that comes with the role.

[Anyone Want to Be a CEO? Seriously, Anyone?]

Creating a legacy to leave behind and cultivating a fulfilling life after stepping down were CEOs' other succession concerns.

RHR International Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Saporito said the top succession concern of CEOs reveals an important aspect of the executive mindset.

"CEOs are less effective than they think at reading talent," Saporito said. "Most importantly, CEOs struggle to combine this gauge of talent with an understanding of their organization's leadership requirements for the future."

Saporito believes it is that combination of talent and fit that ultimately makes or breaks the succession process.

The CEO Snapshot Survey examined the opinions of 100 U.S. CEOs at public and private companies.


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Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.