Every CEO Needs a Break; Here’s Why

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The life of a CEO is extremely demanding. I know. I was a CEO and now I coach CEOs. I see burnout with my CEOs and I’m going to share with you some approaches to relieve the stress you may feel.

What Happens When a CEO Doesn’t Take a Break?

First, you are more likely to experience burnout without balance in your life. This can lead to poor decision-making, lower creativity, and just not performing at your best.

Second, a lack of balance can also impact a CEO’s health. I know from my coaching that CEOs who don’t take breaks are more likely to suffer from health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, ADHD symptoms and even depression.

Finally, when a CEO doesn’t take a break, sends a message to your employees that work is always the most important thing. While that may sound good on the surface, it will lead to lower levels of performance if you team burns out as well. 

Benefits of Taking a Break From Work

Taking a break enables you to recharge and come back feeling refreshed. This will help you prevent burnout at work and invest in the relationships that are most important to you outside of work.

Breaks can also improve your productivity and creativity. When you step away from work, even for a short while, you engage a different part of your brain. Whether it’s a walk in the park, or a retreat, your creative brain will go to work for you. You’ll not only come back feeling refreshed, but will often have new ideas about the problems that have been plaguing you.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed at work, take a break. I have seen CEOs plan their breaks in a variety of ways. Their breaks can include:

  • A five-minute walk in between meetings
  • An occasional day blocked off on the calendar for spending time NOT working
  • A 4-day weekend once a quarter
  • Family vacations with the focus on the family
  • A vacation in the wilderness where they can’t be reached except for a satellite phone

Work-Life Balance Isn’t Just for Employees; It’s for CEOs Too.

All CEOs want their employees to perform at their best. Great CEOs not only create work-life balance for themselves but teach their employees as well. Here are a few tips that some of my CEOs use teaching their direct reports how to create this balance:

  1. Set realistic goals for yourself and your team. Trying to do too much will only lead to stress and frustration. 
  2. Take time for yourself every day, even if it’s just 20 minutes. Use this time to relax, exercise, or meditate.
  3. Delegate tasks whenever possible. You can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything yourself.
  4. Make time for your loved ones. This can be hard when you’re always on the go, but it’s important to nurture your relationships.
  5. Seek help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your team or hire a professional if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

The CEO who teaches the organization how to create balance knows that balance increases productivity and improves the performance of the company.

CEO Strengths and Weaknesses in the Workplace

When a CEO is performing at the highest level, they have key strengths they bring to the workplace. When they are stressed and overwhelmed, they have key weaknesses. 

By taking breaks, you will find yourself leveraging these strengths and avoiding these weaknesses. 


  • Strong decision-making skills: CEOs need to make tough decisions quickly and efficiently. Having a clear mind from taking a break helps in these situations.
  • Excellent communication skills: CEOs must be able to communicate their vision and inspire others to buy into it. Bringing energy to the conversation is the best place to start when communicating.
  • Good people skills: A CEO needs to be able to manage and motivate a large team of employees. As that can be tiring, breaks can help you get the rest you need to prepare for your people interactions.
  • Strategic thinking: A successful CEO must be able to think long-term and develop strategies for achieving goals. Sometimes, this work is done best during a break, when you are letting your subconscious mind go to work for you.


  • Overworked and stressed: The CEO role is one of the most demanding and stressful jobs in any organization. Breaks will help reduce that stress.
  • Isolation from others: CEOs often work long hours alone and can become isolated from everyone else. By taking breaks you can reconnect with friends and family to reduce that sense of isolation.
  • Susceptible to criticism: CEOs can be the target of criticism from shareholders, employees, customers, and the media. A calm mind, often developed through frequent breaks, can be invaluable.

If you want to perform at your peak, intentionally design breaks into your schedule. You will perform at your highest level. You will feel better, and your company will also perform better.

Contact an Experienced CEO Coach

My name is Glenn Gow, CEO Coach. I love coaching CEOs and want to help make you an even better CEO. Let’s decide if we are a fit for each other. Schedule a time to talk with me at calendly.com/glenngow. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

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