Slow Down, Stand Back

News this week that our hyperactive Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has received hospital treatment for a heart condition had busy CEOs here in the UK checking their pulses. Like many CEOs, the Prime Minister works at a punishing pace and has an unhealthy tendency to micromanage and concern himself with the fine detail.

Blair’s health scare serves as a reminder to leaders in all walks of life to share the load, but this month’s issue of Chief Executive magazine highlights a growing trend among companies to abolish the position of COO and give CEOs more responsibility, not less. Recent examples include Capital One, Reuters, and Sun Microsystems. Research by Julie Wulf at the Wharton School of Business suggests the average big company CEO now has seven people reporting to him or her — 20 years ago that figure was just four.

Christine Canabou provides further food for thought in the November issue of Fast Company with an inspiring account of how one CEO, Bob Basten, is coming to terms with Lou Gehrig’s disease and preparing his family and company for life without him.