The muckety muck’s muck
There are many misconceptions about the life of a leader, especially the life of a CEO. Everyone knows that leaders are busy, but few can articulate what they think he or she is doing during all of that time. What could all of those meetings possibly be about?
Here’s a little know secret: the muck rises to the top.
You see this phenomenon with any hierarchical team: easy decisions get made by the day-to-day tacticians, more complex/less obvious decisions get made by supervisors, and truly impossible judgement calls get brought to the top. It’s no different in the corner office!
In addition to making sure that the organization - truly, the entire organization! - is making the right progress in the right areas, the leader is presented with impossible problem after sticky problem. Never a problem with an easy solution or straightforward answer or logical conclusion. Nope, those get handled down the food chain, or at least they ought to in a healthy organization. Instead, the top leader gets to deal with the muck. The stuff that no one else can solve.
This is why Jeff Bezos, when sharing his daily schedule and relatively relaxed start to the morning, expressed what few consider: his job is to make very few, very important decisions each day.
The irony of being a leader, including CEO, is that the better your team, the harder your job is in terms of the types of problems dropped on your desk.
PS: the entire video of Bezos, linked above, is worth your time!