Chief Procrastination Officer: the 5 psychological hurdles CEOs have to producing content
CEOs often hear about the need for them to produce content to raise awareness of their company and to build their brand. But when it comes to actually writing a blog post or putting together a video or presentation, many find themselves struggling with the task. This procrastination can be down to psychological hurdles that hold CEOs back:
1. Perfectionism and fear of failure
Ironically, it is a common problem among successful people to have an outsized fear of failure. Those who succeeded throughout school, university, and in their working life can feel as if their entire value is based on their performance. They think that if they make even one mistake, then they will be worthless as a person, because their self-esteem is so closely linked to their professional success. This leads to reticence to writing or talking about their experiences, because they feel pressure to be good at everything and they worry that they are not a good enough writer or presenter to be worthwhile.
This is why it is so important to learn how to fail. In every failure there is an opportunity to learn and to grow as a person, but first CEOs have to accept that failure is an inevitable part of life and not the end of the world. If a CEO writes a blog post and no one reads it, that doesn’t mean that writing was a waste of time – it means that they need to learn more about how to promote their content, or they need to learn to write in a more blog-appropriate way, or they need to write on a topic that is more resonant for their audience. Producing content takes practice, and the next blog post that they write will be better.
2. Concern about appearances to staff and clients
Related to perfectionism is a belief common among CEOs that they have to appear totally confident, certain, and all-knowing to their staff and customers. The idea of writing a blog post which frankly discusses challenges that their business has experienced or problems they have dealt with seems terrifying, as they imagine that customers would find it off-putting and it would cause staff to lose confidence in them. CEOs invest so much time and effort into their company that they often feel uncertain about letting other people see the inner workings of their business.
In fact, though, there is great value in being transparent and sharing the challenges and difficulties that a company has faced. A CEO who admits their limitations and failures is far more trustworthy than someone who claims to be flawless. Creating honest and upfront content about what being a CEO is like, how decisions are made, and how the company is fairing will build trust and strengthen relationships both within the company and with customers.
3. Uncertainty about becoming the face of the company
Conversely, some CEOs may be reticent to produce content is that they do not want to draw too much attention to themselves. This is an understandable concern, as putting oneself into the position of being the face of the company is not without risks. For example, the business of Tesla is so intimately tied up with Elon Musk as a person that the two are virtually inseparable – and this close linking of CEO and company has caused problems for the company. There is undeniably a lot of risk in a company being identified so closely with one person.
For CEOs of small businesses, though, this problem is a long way off. A business with only a few employees needs someone to step forward to speak for the brand personally – relying on impersonal marketing is not enough. If a CEO wants to produce content without taking a monopoly on the way that the business is presented, they can invite other employees to contribute guest posts to the blog or to participate in presentations in addition to the CEO. This way, the CEO takes the lead on content production but also allows space for others to shine too.
4. Belief that professional means impersonal
Many people seem to have internalised the message that ‘professional’ means impersonal. Whether it’s the idea that a CEO won’t be taken seriously unless they wear a suit and tie, or the belief that a CEO should always talk about the company as “we” instead of themselves as “I”, there’s a pervasive notion in business of the need for conformity.
Certainly, a company needs to conform to the norms of the industry that they work in. However, producing content offers the opportunity for a CEO to share their experiences in a deliberately personal way. A company blog or presentation needn’t be as dry and objective as a quarterly report, as this makes for dull reading. Instead, content can be as individual and distinctive as the CEO who writes it.
5. Guilt about spending time on non-essential functions
Finally, the constant companion of most CEOs is a feeling of stress and guilt about not doing enough. However hard they work, there is always more than could be done, and this lack of a firm endpoint to their tasks will add to their stress. With so many other concerns to attend to, CEOs might feel that it is pointless or even self-indulgent to be reflecting and producing content when they could be working on marketing, client relations, or improving their product.
Producing content can be surprisingly beneficial though. Taking time to reflect on the trajectory of the business, the lessons learned along the way, and visions for the future is time well spent for any CEO even if it does not produce immediately tangible results. Creating content will help this process of self-reflection and will make for a better CEO.
If you’re looking for help with creating unique content for your small business, get in touch with us and we can discuss this further.