Avoiding C-Suite Mistakes: Unconscious to the Signal, Part 2


This is the third installment of the “Avoiding C-Suite Mistakes” series. Read the previous parts here.

For the dentist-entrepreneur, the water is approaching the boiling point. Only after making this realization is he or she suddenly overwhelmed by the situation. The dentist-entrepreneur needs to be everywhere at once — putting out fires, getting the revenues to a sustainable level, making sure goals are met, and having to work at the chair, because none of the associates can produce what’s necessary.

The dentist-entrepreneur realizes they need help. They’re getting desperate. A CFO, or COO, or HR professional: wherever they feel the greatest pain is where they need assistance, and fast. So the dentist-entrepreneur strikes out to hire “somebody who knows what they’re doing.” A cavalry is needed.

Like ill-fated boiling frog, the dentist-entrepreneur doesn’t notice that their emotional state has deteriorated with all the work they’re doing. The interruptions, surprises, and breakdowns aren’t helping. The dentist-entrepreneur doesn’t notice their cortisol levels are rising, their persistent exhaustion, or how few hours they have for themselves. They don’t notice their constantly negative thoughts, the loss of humor, the loss of ease. They don’t notice, that is, until they have the debilitating experience of being totally overcome by their situation.

The C-Suite Difference

The dentist-entrepreneur has spoken to a few colleagues about C-Suite hires and the difference it’s made — reducing stress and increasing performance. The dentist-entrepreneur decides the time to act is now. Little do they realize they are too late, too unprepared, and too naïve in this domain to hire a non-dental professional who demands a six-figure income. Desperation does not lend itself to well-planned decisions.

If they had been more in tune with what was going on internally for themselves and for the people around them, they would have gotten out of the water long before it boiled.

Danger Ahead

As it were, during the formulation and generation of the third location, the dentist-entrepreneur paid little attention to his or her own emotional state. Emotional intelligence was not seen as a reliable gauge for action; self-awareness was not even on the radar. The dentist-entrepreneur didn’t notice the rising tide of anxiety from the people around him or her, and certainly doesn’t notice it in themselves. The water is boiling and only now can they feel it.

They were consumed by an attitude of “get the job done at all costs,” which blinded them to the “right” hire for their entity, so that when they reached this stage of expansion, the C-Suite executive would have already been in place and fully functioning. The executive would have been appropriately onboarded, totally enculturated, clear on their accountabilities, and have a solid relationship with the staff. The dentist-entrepreneur was simply unaware of those signals to make the right moves at the right time and hire the individual who could have helped bypass the mess the dentist-entrepreneur finds himself mired in.

Panic induces a sense of urgency, and urgency turns the situation into an emergency. “I’ve got to hire someone right away,” becomes the mantra: a mistake waiting to happen. Hiring out of desperation almost always results in disaster. If the dentist-entrepreneur was emotionally intelligent, they would have acted far sooner — recruiting and properly onboarding the right C-Suite executive. A painful and expensive blunder is imminent.


Read the next installment of “Avoiding C-Suite Mistakes” here.