A supportive family, a good team and being able to switch off from work are critical components of the ability to cope with stress, said Scott Barnes, chief executive of Grant Thornton, the accountant.
“The point about chief executives having to be emotionally resilient is a good one,” he said. “It is in my DNA … [and] I would say that, of emerging leaders coming through our business, those who are able to deal with things in an emotionally resilient way rather than flying off the handle tend to succeed.”
All new partners take a course that explains that the job will be stressful, and sets out techniques to manage that stress, he said.
Barnes acknowledges things will sometimes go wrong. “I came into this job knowing that not everything will be perfect, which makes it much easier to deal with issues as they arise.”
People who go in expecting everything to be perfect may find it more difficult to adjust, he said. “It’s not about the events themselves, it is about how you react.
“The other thing that can be useful is having a network of fellow CEOs whom you can discuss issues and problems with.”
Barnes spends time with an executive coach every few months. “I do find that useful. It’s like advertising: 50% works and 50% doesn’t, but you don’t know which half.”