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The 5 Scariest Words A CEO Can Say

Quick – name the biggest threat to your business. While you’re at it, name a couple more. Make it your top 10 if you like.

Now here’s a surprise for you: None of those threats will be as big and scary as the moment your CEO says these 5 words: “I can do that myself.”

That sounds fair enough on paper. Yet, before long, time passes and that leader hasn’t been able to move the initiative much farther at all.

Their full intention is there. But their full attention is not. What happened?

It may have started off all wrong to begin with, as they didn’t have the humility to understand that outsourcing the project was the right move. Suddenly, in believing they could do everything, that CEO has just done a lot more harm than good in the way of addressing some very important initiatives for the company’s progress.

How can you prevent this from happening in your environment? It begins by understanding the symptoms of this inertia.

I’ve heard “I can do that myself” enough times from a CEO or Partner by now that my response has typically been, “Well, you can do it yourself. But, do you have the time, interest, and expertise to do it? Do you have a process for tackling the project in structured and disciplined way? What will you stop doing in order to get things done 100% of the way and not 80% or less?”

If you’re in this type of position, you may feel a degree of guilt in outsourcing a project, thinking, “I should really be the one doing this. If I hire you, why do they need me?”

This isn’t strictly a C-level issue all the time, either. We routinely see it in departments like Marketing, for example.

Marketing people don’t always have the strategic voice in the direction of the company that they’d like or should have. However, if they had a tool at their disposal like a client loyalty assessment, they’d truly have the keys to the kingdom. They’d be the ones driving a lot of processes because they’d possess so much data on clients, strengths, vulnerabilities and more. They’d have a true seat at the table so to speak and their stock would go way up from a strategic value perspective.

To get there, they may very well need some help from an outsider. Yet, because they wouldn’t be the ones conducting the process, some of them feel threatened.

So let me help you take a good hard look in the mirror in a different way: You say you’re supposed to be doing certain things rather than outsourcing those tasks. But be honest with yourself – why aren’t you checking off all the boxes on your list in a timely fashion? Just because you say you should do something doesn’t make it real and a priority.

When you outsource it, that’s when it becomes real. At that point, multi-tasking is happening and you’re getting more done.

Here’s something almost as scary about your next CEO, COO, or GM.

According to Heidrick & Struggles, 40% of C-level executives fail, quit or are pushed out within 18 months of starting their new jobs. When you tally up search fees, signing bonuses, salary, benefits, severance package and more, the cost to replace that executive with another could well be in excess of $1,000,000.

That’s one misstep that no company wants to make twice. Which is why the Setting Leaders Up For Success program from Value Drivers can help your next leader accelerate their impact and increase their chance of success. Our strategic business assessments have been designed for C-level executives by C-level executives. They complement an existing onboarding plan to flatten out the new leader’s learning curve and maximize long-term value. Plus, rather than merely delivering a report and leaving, we’ll be there as a welcome sounding board to your newly appointed executive for their first year on the job.

To learn more about how your C-level executives and company can be Set Up For Success, contact Value Drivers today at 312.827.2643 or click here to schedule a free consultation or email

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