Member David Traversi Speaks: When CEO Passion Ebbs, Discipline Is Required

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought by a CEO, who was in the middle of a taxing M&A deal. He was feeling intense CEO fatigue and looked to his group for advice. David Traversi of Traversi Capital Advisors, shared his insights with this Alliance member.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

CEOs don’t always feel passionate. In fact, being the CEO is sometimes downright unpleasant. In these tough moments, real leaders harness another powerful tool: discipline. They demonstrate true grit. Embrace and honor it.

Over the years, I’ve seen you project real passion for your company’s mission. While it’s uncharacteristic to see you in this state, it’s a normal part of being CEO. Here’s my view: passion and discipline run together in a complementary sine wave. When one ebbs, the other must flow. Passion is fun and easy. But discipline is the other key attribute that great leaders possess. When you meet a passion trough with a discipline peak, you are exhibiting the attributes of a true leader. It’s when you feel like quitting that your greatest opportunities to lead are presenting themselves.

Now, I’m not suggesting you don’t have strong drive and work ethic. You wouldn’t be where you are today if you didn’t already have discipline. Still, I understand that the fatigue you feel is very real. Moreover, it’s something you just can’t share with your direct reports or board members. Remember, this whole group is behind you. Sometimes you simply must put up the mirror and see that other side of you – the discipline side – that needs to swing into action. It’s like a carpenter that’s trying to drive a nail with his palm, forgetting he has a hammer on his belt. You’ve got the tool. Use it!