Find an outside confidant, a CEO coach.

The CEO position can be a lonely place, especially when the CEO finds himself in a position of not being able to bring an issue directly to the board and not wanting to explore solutions with associates within the company.  This sometimes happens when a CEO is unwilling to admit a weakness in an area that is critical, such as analysis of financial statements, or when a CEO is unhappy with the actions of his board or with pay offers by the board’s compensation committee that cannot be resolved amicably.  Having an experienced coach, usually acting informally and not for any kind of pay, is a safety valve for a CEO that cannot be understated when in times of great stress.

Sometimes that coach is a member of the board willing to listen and make suggestions off the record.  And often that is good enough.  In my experience, there are times when a CEO needs a completely neutral third party or a roundtable of fellow CEO’s to help guide him through a difficult maze.

Develop relationships with fellow CEO’s in non-competing businesses for a start. Perhaps even formalize the relationship with regular lunch meetings or meetings in groups of CEO’s to discuss personal issues without fear of the discussion leaking outside closed doors.

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