Opinion

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How much stress is too much to handle?

3 Mins

Mr Horta-Osório took a leave of absence for two months after the stress of running the banking group, which includes the part-public owned Lloyds TSB, got too much for him. 

Suffering from sleep deprivation, he spent eight days in the Priory to help him recover.  

Now, my views of the banking sector are well-known, but, at the risk of sounded flippant, in some ways it is good to see a banker losing sleep over their job. 

I am sure there are many others who haven’t lost a wink of sleep over their casino attitude to the banking industry and the dangerous game they have played with the economy.

However, I’d never wish anyone ill, so I’m glad that Mr Horta-Osório has recovered and I hope his recent experience will actually help him turn around the fortunes of Lloyds.

Stress is definitely a double-edged sword. For some it can deliver the adrenalin required to push business owners through a tough patch. For others, it can cause them to wither and fade away.

I don’t know any entrepreneur that gets more than five or six hours’ sleep a night – even in good times. They drive themselves hard and take advantage of holidays to recharge (although we’re always on the end of a phone or email!). 

There’s always a danger of pushing too hard, as in the case of Mr Horta-Osório, but it’s about how the team around the head of a business is organised. Mr Horta-Osório has himself identified restructuring his management team as his first priority, which makes perfect sense if he is to be a more effective CEO. 

Entrepreneurs are the driving force of business, but they can’t do it on their own. We are the “ideas people”, the motivators and the exploiters of opportunities. We then make the best use of a trusted team to make it all happen.

Any entrepreneur who believes they can go it alone will see their stress levels go through the roof and, no matter how many rehabilitation clinics they attend, will see their business fail and their health irrevocably suffer. 

On a more positive note, I would like to wish all the readers of Real Business a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2012. Enjoy the Christmas break, recharge those batteries and get set to drive your business forward next year! 

Charlie Mullins launched Pimlico Plumbers in 1979 with just a bag of tools and an old van bought at auction. The company now has more than 133 professional plumbers, 35 support staff and a £15m turnover.

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