Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement yesterday. At the same time the WSJ published a great article – When the CEO Burns Out. Reading about Sir Alex’s retirement and the WSJ article reminded me of the pressure and expectations placed on today’s leaders. And the pressure mounts.

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Written by HeatherStone
566 days ago

Hi Ian,

It strikes me that heads of many of the smallest companies, where CEOs might wear many hats and have their hands in many things, might be prime candidates for this kind of burn out. My question is whether some of these companies might simply be too small either to implement or to afford such a solution. Your take?

Written by HeatherStone
565 days ago

Hi Ian,

Thanks for the response. Agree with the activity versus effectiveness observation and that many small entrepreneurs are new at this stuff and may not know about scaling even if they do know about their business. Great observations!

Written by IanDSmith
566 days ago


Great point. The affordability issue is absolutely right. Bringing on a full time COO is not often not practical. However we fulfill this role for the “cost of a graduate” working on the key agenda items one day per week. And also by reorganizing how the existing talent is deployed we achieve much greater alignment and momentum for the business. Scaling a private company requires constant hard work on the right stuff with the right structures at the right time. Surprisingly raising large sums of money to scale businesses often fails because of the lack of know-how. So it’s about working smarter, defining tasks better, allocating resources more efficiently. Burn out symptoms appear when bosses fail to follow these little rules. Of course no one told them what the rules were. It sounds harsh but too many small company bosses confuse activity with effectiveness.

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