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The secret life of CEOs

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HR is about supporting the people at the company, both the staff members and the CEOs. Just like any of us, every CEO has concerns and challenges of their own, but not every one of them always tells us what they think. This often creates an obstacle when the HR department wants to put forward initiatives to address the executives’ needs.

Because of this, multi-stage investment firm Norwest Venture Partners initiated a study that reveals the mentality behind the façades of the well put-together startup CEOs and company founders, so that the HR team can better understand the CEOs’ pain points that should be factored in when bringing forward new HR plans.

Conducted by Wakefield Research, the study is based on the data of 200 CEOs and founders of private venture-backed companies in the US, covering areas such as their personalities, leadership styles and their approach in hiring.

Contrary to what most people may think, CEOs/founders are actually very concerned about their mental and physical health, with 71% get six hours of sleep or more per night, 60% get exercise multiple times per week, and 48% use their spare time to read for pleasure. The study also shows that many of them meet with personal trainer and/or therapist regularly.

Social life is another aspect that CEOs/founders will not sacrifice over work, with 93% socialise with other CEOs/founders a few times a month. Some (27%) even do so several times a week.

As for the fear faced by CEOs/founders, failure (90%) is at the top of the list among other concerns like revenue growth (49%), raising capital (49%), and maintaining work-life balance (46%).

No one will deny that it takes a lot to be a CEO/founder, as every step they take may make or break their business. Yet, not many of them have all the skills that the job entails when they first become the leader of the company.

According to the study, CEOs/founders most wish they were more knowledgeable about the hard skills of operations (53%), finance (51%), and sales (37%) when they first started the job.

With soft skills, they wish they could do better in public speaking (37%), planning and organising (37%), and conflict resolution (37%).

What more, the shortfall in their own skill sets may actually be a factor affecting CEOs/founders’ hiring habits according to the findings, with CEOs/founders find it most difficult to fill positions for sales/customer success leaders (38%), technology/engineering leaders (37%) and operations leaders (25%). This resulted in more than half (53%) of CEOs/founders preferring to conduct three or more in-person interviews when hiring these positions.

When looking at potential investors, CEOs/founders put the most emphasis on individual partner expertise (47%), followed by alignment with their company’s vision (44%), and the ability to fund their company over the long run (42%). After the deal sealed, bringing business development skills to the table (33%) is the most important help that investors could offer.

ALSO READ: Only 26% of CEOs in APAC believe they are initiators of disruption

HR Masterclass Series: High-level HR strategy training workshops
with topics ranging from Analytics, to HR Business Partnering, Coaching, Leadership, Agile Talent and more.
Review the 2019 masterclasses here »

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