One of the greatest threats facing leaders today is making decisions based on information that is incomplete, partially hidden or compromised in some way.
Many CEOs have told us that they so often sense that they are not getting the truth. They cannot name or define what their sense of unease or apprehension regarding the information they have received is about, because they know that no one is actually lying to them.
In most cases, they know that these people are not actually dishonest or untrustworthy, but neither are they telling the CEO or Board everything they need to know. They can sense that something is not quite right.
How do you know that the information you receive as a leader is objective and unbiased? What creates the environment where information is regularly filtered, biased or withheld? What can you do to ensure that information you receive is reflective of the actual situation and possibilities, and not created from someone's bias?
This is what we have termed the CEO Syndrome.
The controversy surrounding the CEO Syndrome is that we believe that you, as the person receiving or relying on information, actively create this syndrome for yourself.
The type of information that staff and others provide you is a direct result of how you have chosen to receive information in the past, what questions you have asked, and whether you have any fixed points of view.
Every fixed point of view that you have about anything creates the limitations and parameters from which you receive it. Leaders with a fixed point of view often say phrases such as "Oh no, that's not the way it is" and they often focus their attention on the ‘why something can't be done'.
Attachment to your own point of view blinds you to other possibilities. You can't see anything that doesn't match your point of view. You tend to be very attached to past reference points, and are not willing to take risks. You fail to invite the truth.
The CEO Syndrome causes you to operate with a distorted sense of reality and creates an insulated culture that systematically excludes any information that does not fit or contradicts your point of view.
On the other hand, if you have shown that you are willing to receive all, without judgement, then you will receive all facets of information from many different points of view, as staff will not be worried or concerned about how you will receive it, or the effect this delivery of information will have on them. You have chosen to be conscious and aware.