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This has been an exhausting few weeks for both of us, and especially for you. I’m afraid the reality is that it will happen again. The life of a CEO is about dealing with the gradual build up of issues, problems, one office crisis after another until, as you said, you’ve no time to do anything properly, you feel suffocated by the pressure, time runs out and you want to scream!

But we are through the worst, at least for the moment. So let’s take stock

  • You took on too many forward commitments – we have to learn to trust our key managers and to delegate far more completely and competently. You did not need to sit in on the Appraisals and certainly not if you were leaving early. We are both workaholics, as bad as each other, but we must learn to like empty diaries.
  • We must decide on what is imperative for you and what is not. Thus far you have not yet started the meetings with your key clients, which we all thought would be so valuable and still are.
  • As the year developed, we did not fully resolve some key issues about the Heads of Finance and HR and also one of our vital  market sectors. When it came to it, they were not clear about their roles and they were not good enough. It was our fault because we always knew that and had not faced up to it. We need to become more completely decisive.
  • During the last twelve months you have initiated a great deal of change and you’ve been right to do so. But I don’t think we have spent anything like enough time nursing our key people through the “after sales” period. This is of course partly linked to the HR problem – but again, in truth, it’s down to one of us to keep in touch personally, socially, informally – to give the new appointments time and space to discuss their concerns and to be vulnerable.

Harry, my friend, the year has ultimately been a considerable success. It has taken a lot out of you. I think it has taken too much – and it will happen again if we don’t take the lessons fully on board.

The key one is that people do matter, our relationships with them is the be all and end all of management. And that means we have to be far more decisive

  • getting rid of those who do not measure up
  • clarifying roles, responsibilities and delegation lines for those who stay
  • providing unconditional and sophisticated support to those who do measure up

Have a great break, you’ve earned it.