6 Ways CEOs Are Sabotaging Their Own Success

CEO Sabotage

When things don’t go your way at work, it’s usually a lot easier to blame it on a boss or coworker than take personal responsibility for what happened. But the CEO is different, unlike every other employee; the CEO doesn’t have a manager. They can only blame themselves for sabotaging their own success.

Here are six ways CEOs, leaders and Entrepreneurs hold themselves and their organizations back from success. Hopefully you won’t recognize yourself!

1. Micromanage Everything

If you want to sabotage your own career and the success of your company, be sure that you are involved at every level and that even the smallest decisions need to go through you.

Micromanagers should never be CEOs of large or growing companies. This is because they are simply too complex to micromanage. Being involved at every level and not delegating to your team creates a bottleneck that essentially strangles an organization.

2. Feeling Like An Impostor

Researchers say 70% of leaders will experience “impostor syndrome” at least once in their lives. Basically, it’s when you feel like your achievements are undeserved and you’ll one day be revealed as a fraud.

There is little formal CEO training, and the skills needed to do this job successfully are different than anything else a CEO has ever done. While some are mentored into the job, this practice is more of the exception than the rule, which really stacks the deck against CEOs and Entrepreneurs.

One way to conquer impostor syndrome is to consult a mentor and let them know how you feel. They’ll likely assure you that your experience is normal.

3. Bad Decision Making 

CEOs that make impulsive decisions without proper analysis and input from their team are in danger of sabotaging their career and company success.

The CEO should focus on the three to four decisions per year that really move the business forward. They then need to hire the best people who are aligned with the company’s vision and empower those people to execute.

4. Thinking The Little People Don’t Count

No matter what business a CEO is in, they’re really only in one business. It’s the people business. And as a CEO and Entrepreneur, your success will directly correlate to how well you can assemble the best team and then bring out the best in those people.

The more a CEO cares about their employees and building an awesome culture, the more they’re going to find employees buying into them as a leader. Companies with an awesome culture perform way better than those that don’t. In turn, those employees will focus on what the company is trying to accomplish, and align their efforts with the outcomes the CEO is trying to achieve.

5. Conforming To The Majority Opinion

In the 1950s, psychologist Solomon Asch conducted a brilliant study that found people tended to agree with the majority, even when it was obvious the majority was wrong.

In the experiment, participants were asked to indicate which of three lines was longest. They were surrounded by ringers who all reported that one of the shorter lines was longer. Sure enough, most participants agreed with the ringers.

Since even CEOs and Entrepreneurs are human, and the lesson here is to be wary of the very human tendency to conform to a group’s opinion.

6. Stagnating Skills

The times, they are a changing – as Bob Dylan used to sing. Every week, startups that are threats to traditional business are being launched. A good CEO of even a legacy organization should be able to recognize the need for new ways of thinking. Allstate used an online, crowd sourced statistics platform called Kaggle to put their 60-year-old algorithm to the test and created a 271% improvement.

CEOs need to stay on top of new business models and tools. Otherwise they will find themselves going the way of the dodo, or worse Blockbuster, which is now a footnote in the story about the ultimate disruptor: Netflix.

Mark Moses
About the author: 

Mark is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International, which coaches high growth CEOs and Entrepreneurs around the world.  Mr. Moses led Platinum Capital as President and CEO when it was ranked #10 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies, and he has been interviewed and featured on NBC, ABC, CBS and the Wall St. Journal, LA Times, Forbes and INC. magazine. Mark served on the Board of Directors for both Children’s Hospital of Orange County and Chapman University.  Follow him on LinkedIn.