CEOs are Humans Too

15 March 18

It’s easy to forget that CEOs are just as human as me and you.

So often they are put on a pedestal and viewed as something different and special.

It’s a bit of a cliche to talk of the loneliness of CEOs, caught in between the Board and people in the organisation, all with superhuman expectations. As with many cliches there is a lot of truth at its core.

That lonely position and unrealistic expectation frequently leads to a belief they can’t show their weaknesses or vulnerabilities. They must exude confidence, strength and self assurance at all times.

But as they are human beings, the normal emotions are there, trapped inside, perhaps spilling out in unhelpful ways.

The irony is that most people want their bosses to be normal, able to operate at an emotional level and prepared to expose their vulnerabilities. Trust between people is greater when there is an emotional connection, a deeper understanding of each other and shared experience.

So CEOs who want to share a vision that inspires their people to greater performance should reflect on how they appear. Do they want to be the superhuman but detached leaders that many expect, or the emotionally aware leaders that form deeper and more powerful connections with their people?


Whilst working as a Partner at Foot Anstey, I worked with Norman on a number of projects, including a complex negotiation on a £multi-million, multi-stakeholder local authority contract. The whole collaboration benefitted from the fact that Norman knows how to listen to others and when to speak and act, and was always quick to grasp the technical detail of (often complex) issues and hone in on pragmatic, viable solutions. I can unequivocally say that whomever Norman works with is lucky to have his attention and his insights.  The fact that he’s a nice guy on top of that is a welcome bonus!

Al Goodwin – Head of Commercial, SC Group-Global Ltd