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The SME CEO Peer Group

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The CEO’s Stress Life

CEO's are expected to be superhuman, however, in reality they are grappling with backbreaking work. Being a CEO has always been tough. The global nature of modern business expects CEOs to make decisions around the clock.

In a study by Apollo Hospitals, it has been indicated that 59% Indian CEOs have a high risk of cardiac arrest. Research reveals that the CEO is more at risk than his executives with 59% high risk compared to 56% high risk amongst executives. Besides, the CEO seems more prone to hypertension also with a ratio of 36% as opposed to 25% amongst other executives.

In another study by Egon Zehnder shows that nearly six in 10 Indian CEOs are overwhelmed by their work. Their constant pressure means they have very little time to reflect. Partially the reason is an India CEO is virtually involved in multiple processes externally and internally from sales to overseeing key projects, to business operations, administrative functions, people management, internal processes, troubleshooting, hiring decisions, payroll management and many other things which surface from time to time. It's not one, but many profiles converged in one. In the end, it's the CEO who is finally held accountable by the customers for everything.

“Stress is a combination of multiple factors in everyday work. One has to be on the toes to acquire a new customer or cater to the existing customer demand, handle internal stakeholders. It is not just one thing,“ says Mr Narasimha Murthy, Founder and CEO of Connectivity Solutions.

Long working hours are a common phenomenon for CEOs in India. CEOs get very little time to do their task during the day, as a usual day is spent with customer interactions or internal tasks and reviews. An SME CEO is responsible for the payroll, and it is a tough job to cover the cost of all the operations within the four weeks of the month.

“Everything is fine when cash flow is good, and everything becomes stressful if it is disturbed,“ says John Santhosh , Founder and CEO of GIEOM.

Many CEOs are unable to actively participate in household responsibilities, and some have not managed to see their children grow, and that is another area of stress; coupled with their responsibilities in their enterprise. An Indian CEO is much likely to cut their pay or delay payments or dig into their savings to manage the cash flow of their organisation.

The impact of Demonetisation has profoundly affected the Indian Entrepreneurs as they had to continue their payrolls despite the massive losses in business turnover. However, Indian Executives are far more resilient and optimistic. They believe that things will eventually get better and stress is just another regular part of life.


Tridiv Daas is the originator of Creative Factor Group.

Having spent over two decades in advertising & marketing and worked on some of the most prominent brands like Intel, Apple, Essilor, Schneider Electric. He is now empowering small and medium organisations to thrive in the present opportunities. Connect with him at tridiv@creativefactor.in


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