Behaviour: How to avoid executive stress

Thomas DeLong
Harvard Business School

Organisational behaviour expert, Thomas DeLong highlights a familiar problem with successful executives: the drive to achieve can be an addiction with the same impact as substance abuse. Here are ways to recognise it and try to control it.

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Mark, a well-known CEO, told me of the time he visited his brother in a drug treatment centre. This was the third time Mark's brother, a highly successful physician, had attempted to break his addiction to prescription drugs.

Mark said that he will always remember the experience of being confronted by his brother during a family group therapy session. As Mark sat in the circle his brother said to him: 'There really isn't much difference between us. We are both addicts but of a different kind. My addiction ruined my first family and my career and I'm still trying to salvage it after 30 years of struggle. And your addiction to achieve and succeed has made you famous. But just realise that the difference between us is minimal.'