Becoming a CEO — The Hero’s Journey

It’s no secret that talent is key to a CEO’s success, yet talent is a perennial top challenge for CEOs. It is within everyone’s grasp to be a CEO. There are secret opportunities hidden inside every failure.

Life is not really a solo sport — even if you’re the CEO. Being a CEO is at least twice as hard as the next hardest position in a company. Yes — It is that hard.

To become a proven transformational leader and creating a successful track record of building brands, businesses and value requires much more than just an opportunity.

Working with start-ups exposes one to holding positions of high responsibility and leadership earlier than most of one’s fellow colleagues. Shaping and growing new businesses and building a profitable and large opportunity canvass requires thought leadership, entrepreneurial management style, creative strategy and execution. Most important survival and growth strategy is the ability to reimagine businesses and build innovative business models.

This article explores the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. In doing so, it explores and equates the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction in the slicing of other C-suite positions.

In delineating the four essential faces for a CEO, I am adapting leading mythologist Joseph Campbell’s description of each of us as “a hero with a thousand faces,” and Erica Fox’s article. A CEO needs to be like a
1. Dreamer — this is the visionary face led by intuition — suggestive of an inner CEO.
2. Thinker — this is the evaluation face led by reason — suggestive of an inner CFO.
3. Warrior — this is the relationship face led by willpower — suggestive of an inner COO.
4. Lover — this is the relationship face led by emotion — suggestive of an inner CHRO.

The Takeaway:
A CEO’s job consumes you. It should not be looked at as a step-up but as a calling!

As a C-level executive, you are generally hired to play mostly above the line as a strategist and catalyst. To do this, one is required to assemble a core team of direct reports that quickly ensures that executional responsibilities are taken care of.

Wearing four hats frees up a CEO’s time to bring the strategist and catalyst and other faces at the optimum level.

Originally published at on August 7, 2017.



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