Down one of those hip Melbourne laneway hideaways, over a latte, just last week we picked up where we left off. A lot of years have gone by and it was great to see him.
KB’s had a brilliant career.
But being CEO can be pretty stressful too.
I had to ask…
Most recently it was when his company merged with a listed company. It was a good idea at the time.
Actually a great one, financially.
But after only a few short years there’s been a ‘conscious uncoupling’. And some argy bargy disentangling the assets.
KB said the most stressful part was that they had philosophical differences.
He couldn’t reconcile maximising short-term shareholder value over doing what he feels is right.
Listed companies exist to maximise shareholder value. KB’s values are in:
- Doing work that makes a difference even though it may not make a quick profit, or a profit at all.
- Looking after their long-standing and loyal staff.
For the listed company, this is only business.
For KB, this isn’t only business. It’s personal.
That’s how it feels.
That’s why, for him:
Shareholder value is the output.
Not the standard by which all decisions are made.
My heart warmed hearing this.
And it’s heartening to know KB is not alone.
My client John said something similar recently.
He’s also a CEO of a listed company.
John had the unenviable task of telling 2,000 employees their positions are now redundant.
He knew many of them.
He hated having to do it.
Trying to lessen the tension he was feeling,
he said: “Call me George Clooney”.
He was referencing his role as corporate downsizer
in the movie Up in the Air.
For John too, this isn’t only business, it feels personal.
He told me the only way he could even start to reconcile the indignity of the job and the guilt he felt for being a ‘survivor’ was to do what he could. That meant negotiating generous redundancy deals and redeploying where possible.
Why am I telling you this?
You may have to do many things at work that won’t sit
well with you.
Do you tell yourself: “It’s only business?”
You spend a lot of time at work.
It can become an important part of your identity.
So why shouldn’t it feel personal?
You’re a person too. A person first.
Lest we forget.
It’s business and it should feel personal.
Do you agree?