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Why young leaders need a support group

More than by any other fear modern CEOs are burdened with “impostor syndrome” - an affliction described by the Harvard Business Review a few years ago. They worry that they don’t know what they’re doing and that someone will find out sooner or later.

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More than by any other fear modern CEOs are burdened with “impostor syndrome” - an affliction described by the Harvard Business Review a few years ago. They worry that they don’t know what they’re doing and that someone will find out sooner or later. 

That angst is most prevalent in the world of start-ups, where many CEOs are first-time managers building brand-new business models. Jerry Colonna, adviser to start ups executives from companies such as Etsy, Cheezburger, and SoundCloud is known as the “Yoda of Silicon Alley” for providing emotional support. He says he is in more demand than ever. Last autumn Colonna co-launched coaching firm Reboot, which offers support groups, mindfulness training, and weekend “boot camps” for executives with angst. 

According to Fortune, Colonna’s company is part of a growing industry of support groups and clubs geared toward a new generation of entrepreneurs. Another company, Venwise, offers its executive clientele a “safe place” for 7,000 dollars a year: an expanding community of CEO “pods” consisting of six to ten members. Venture firms, too, are increasingly facilitating peer groups among portfolio company chiefs.

The approach breaks with traditional coaching and training manuals. What young executives need is not training, is the conviction behind Venvise, but someone to whom they can relate. Or in other words: seeing that other bosses suffer from anxiety as well. “People come to my office, they sit on my couch, and they cry,” Colonna says. His favourite phrase is, “Know that you’re not alone.”

For executives, the effects can be dramatic. In one case, Colonna even inspired a CEO to realise he didn’t even want the job and was trying to be someone he is not. 

www.fortune.com

www.hbr.org

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