The_ CEO_ Disease —- Bubbly_ Sheikh


“Dear CUZ,

“You are appointed as a manager, with so many crazy degrees and certificates… Congratulations!”
This was the post on social media made by a CEO of a company (The CEO had tagged CUZ in this post).”

After few days….

“I am feeling sad to break this news that the person CUZ who was appointed as a managing director, will not work with us, because he doesn’t have any personal bank account.”


“Bro, whenever I interview a candidate for the job, the very last question that I ask him/her is: have you ever cleaned your bathroom? And if the answer is “no” I don’t consider him/her for the job. I believe, you can’t do anything in life if you cannot clean your bathroom.”

These were the views of an anchor person (at the end of a live interview) who’s also a CEO of a company.


“Sir I want to moderate this session.
Come on Tina! A moderator should have a presentable personality.”


Now, let’s try to understand what kind of behavioral and cognitive problems these CEOs have.

CEO in the first scenario is a classical example of a person who lacks control over his impulses. Also he has the problem of all or none thinking. How? Let me explain.

Impulsivity is defined as “a tendency to act without thinking” like buying a dress without you need it. In the first scenario the CEO made few mistakes:

  1. He hired the candidate without getting full information about him.
  2. He fired him without giving him a chance to open his account in the bank.
  3. Breaking the news on social media about hiring and then firing is quite unethical, which shows lack of knowledge, lack of manners and misuse of power.

If the candidate was competent, he could have opened a bank account after receiving appointment letter. Even if he was reluctant, a CEO doesn’t have any right to share things on social media and to put a negative label on someone who is about to start his career. A CEO must be aware of the pain of negative labels and how do they work.

The other problem this CEO has is of “all or none thinking”. When thinking in all or nothing terms, you split your thoughts in extremes. It’s like you can only see the black and white, with no grey areas. In other words, if you don’t have a bank account, you can’t perform well, or you are a complete failure.

The CEO in the second scenario is also an example of all or none thinking, “if you can’t clean your bathroom, you cannot do anything in life. Also such offensive questions like “have you ever cleaned your bathroom?” show that you are trying to feel superior by making the other person feel inferior, but in reality the roots of superiority are in inferiority. Judging someone based on first few interactions shows that you are a super human being and the other person is some inferior creature, or you have some super powers and abilities to scan a person’s abilities and capacities. The CEO in the third scenario is an example of misuse of power, not knowing the work place ethics and an attempt of making a bad comment out of impulsivity or may be out of some grudge with that person. A CEO can have a range of cognitive, behavioral and emotional issues, that’s why I named it “The CEO disease”. Here, by disease, I mean any harmful and depraved condition that can harm oneself or the others.

Our emotional reactions are conditioned and this conditioning takes place in the very early years of life. And the good news is, we can tame our emotions once we become aware of our emotional and behavioral flaws. Inferiority, impulsivity and all or none thinking can make you behave in negative ways, and if the person is in power, he can bully his employees, particularly those employees who are incompetent (because of their weaknesses) and those who are competent (because the CEO sees the competent person as a threat).

For the employee:

Don’t take the CEO’s judgments to your heart, just move on and keep learning. Never think that you are failing, believe that you are learning and improving you skills. Think about the aftermaths of believing that your abilities can be developed as opposed to the thought that your traits are fixed and deep seated. Binet believed that training and education can lead to fundamental development in intelligence. Here is his quote from one of his books:

“A few modern philosophies… assert that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism… with practice, training and above all, method; we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent than we were before”.

Most experts agree that it’s not either-or. Both nature and nurture, genes and environment play role together, as Gilbert Gottlib, an eminent neuroscientist writes, “not only do genes and environment cooperate as we develop, but genes require input from the environment to work properly.

For the CEOs:

It is better to understand that human abilities can be cultivated through effort, intention, discipline and exercise, and one can get slicker and smarter. Instead of projecting your inferiorities, vulnerabilities, frailties, and other personality flaws onto your employees, be aware of them and work on them. CEOs also need to keep learning, changing and improving.

This fact cannot be ignored that each person has a unique genetic endowment. You may start with different temperaments and different aptitudes, but it is clear that experience, discipline, coaching and personal effort take them the rest of the way. Rober Sternberg, the present day guru of intelligence pens that the primary ingredient in whether people achieve expertise “is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement. Or as Binet said, “it’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.

It is observed that the first thing you do when you are in power is “judging others”. Instead of judging, it’s desirable to understand, plan and behave accordingly. And one should not forget the moral principles while dealing with other fellow beings. The view you adopt for yourself and for others profoundly impinges upon the way you lead your life.

When you create an environment where everyone has one consuming objective- look smart, do more, don’t look dumb. Who would enjoy and appreciate learning and training when one’s whole being is at stake? Creating a learning and conducive environment, and appreciating efforts instead of results can make a difference. Since researches say everyone can learn, change and grow through training, application and experience.

Now this question can pop up in your mind, can anyone with proper education, training become Einstein or Beethoven? Or, that cleaning the bathroom can make you achieve high goals in life. The answer is “No”, because it is believed that you cannot foresee a person’s true potential and abilities, and because there is no such data to support this assumption of cleaning the bathroom and succeeding in life, what one can accomplish with years of passion, labor, drive and drudge, is unforeseeable and unpredictable. Here are a few examples form history:

  Tolstoy and Darwin were considered ordinary children, Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers of all time, was absolutely uncoordinated as a child. Geraldine Page, one of our greatest artists, was advised to give it up for lack of flair. Cindy Sherman, who has been on virtually every list of the most important artists of the 20th century, failed her first photography course.

If you start believing that qualities can be polished and abilities can be enhanced, you instill a passion for learning. And if you think, you are incandescently brilliant, don’t use your brainpower to intimidate or demean others. Thinking that you are inherently smarter and slicker than others, doesn’t mean you start ignoring needs of the lesser people, they deserve the same respect and treatment as you do. The kinds of abuse mentioned in the start of this article represent the Boss’s desire to enhance their own feelings of power, value, importance and false competence at the employee’s expanse. Calling yourself a “perfectionist” can be a euphemism for an abuser, offender or a thug. No one in this world is perfect, but Allah. That’s why we say “Allah o Akber”. The Greatest CEO’s our Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), and he is considered Rahmat ul aalameen. He (PBUH) is the best example for all of us about how to live a life of modesty and how to treat our fellow beings.

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