John Thornton

10 Annoying Behaviours of the prima donna CEO

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We’ve all seen it – the nightmare behaviours of the prima donna MD/CEO.  These are my personal favourites & I can’t wait to hear yours – so please add them in at the comments section below:

1.       Travelling in a different class to everyone else & expecting special treatment everywhere they go.  I used to work for a CEO that travelled business class when our start up could hardly make payroll some months.  Even worse – his PA was sworn to secrecy & if any team members happened to bump into him at the airport or getting on or off a plane, he used to pretend he’d been upgraded.  Pathetic.

2.       Being unable to as much as fart without the involvement of a long suffering PA.  I followed up with a Northern Ireland executive that I’d met in Washington DC about a mutual opportunity we’d discussed when we were in the USA.  He referred me to his PA to book a meeting with him.  I’ve never been back to him since.

3.       Going on & on about how brilliant they are & being the big “I am”.  Linked to this is telling everyone constantly that they are the CEO.  I used to work for a CEO in Belfast (some of you may know him, dear readers…) who at least once a day we would hear shouting from his office “But I am the CEO”…Boy how we used to roll around laughing at that.

4.       Hideous uncalled for temper tantrums.  One CEO I used to work for threw a chair at me one day – and I mean a proper typing chair with a solid metal base.  Had I physically attacked him.  No – I’d caught him in a bad moment & made some comment that he didn’t like & that was the result.  I managed to dodge the chair for anyone who’s wondering.

5.       Spending their investor/shareholder/VC money recklessly – how many times have we seen that?  $50k on a domain name, $150k on a booth used twice a year at conferences, flashy company car, unused apartment in Palo Alto that no-one in the team but the CEO is allowed to use and so on…complete waste of money & no-one dare say anything.

6.       Getting team members to do non job-related stuff for them.  One MD I worked for used to come in late to work & ring in for someone in the office to come out & first of all wait in the car park queue & then park her car.  If I ever get even slightly uppity, Paul says to me – “you’re getting more & more like X” – that puts me straight back into my reality box.  Same MD used to take a taxi from central London to Heathrow airport because she “didn’t like using the tube”.  Other examples of this might be asking members of your team to book personal travel for you or take your cleaning to the dry cleaners.  CEOs – do it yourselves!

7.       Dominating team brainstorming meetings with their own brilliance so that no-one else gets a look-in.

8.       Always hogging the limelight instead of encouraging others to have a go & try taking a lead every now & then.

9.       Leaving meetings when they’ve had their say – their time is clearly so valuable!

10.   Having ridiculous amounts of the latest technology gadgetry – half of which they don’t even know how to use.

I’m sure there are loads & loads more so let’s get them all out there.  This was an easy blog for me to write as I seem to have worked for more than my fair share of CEO assholes over the years (if you’re reading this John Thornton, you are not included in that pile!).  Having said that, it was one of my main drivers for starting my own business as I thought to myself, this really can’t be too hard if that asshole can do it!