Lloyds Chief’s Sleep Deprivation

The revelation that new Lloyds Bank chief Antonió Horta-Osório has been suffering from sleep deprivation rather than stress gives pause for thought. Daily Telegraph interview is here.

Obviously, Mr Horta-Osório has learned some lessons, both for himself and his firm, and policies and expectations will change. However, no leader should end up in the Priory before learning them.

On aircraft we are taught to put on our own oxygen masks before helping others, to ensure that we are functioning and continue to function. The same applies to leaders: they can have no effect on their organisation if they are off sick. The leader must therefore first take care of his own mental and physical wellbeing.

Naturally, when taking over leadership of an organisation in crisis the temptation (and perhaps necessity) is to make a quick impact. And you need to inspire the company to take action. But it is impossible to get a handle on everything in a short time. And in a turnaround situation, there will never be enough time to gather all necessary information before action needs to be taken. Sometimes it has to be “ready, fire, aim”.

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