The Most Difficult Thing about Being an Executive: Ranking the Toughest Challenge

Choose the thing you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 19, 2024 06:41
Welcome to StrawPoll, where your opinions truly matter! Today, we're diving into the intricate world of executive leadership and exploring the challenges faced by those at the helm. From decision-making dilemmas to time management troubles, we've compiled a comprehensive ranking of "What is the most difficult thing about being an Executive?" – and we need your help to decide which challenges top the list! Cast your vote, make your voice heard, and if you think we've missed a crucial challenge that should be on the list, feel free to suggest it. Don't miss this chance to weigh in on the high-stakes world of executive leadership, and join the conversation that's sure to spark engaging discussions and enlightening insights. Together, let's uncover the true trials and tribulations of being an executive!

What Is the Most Difficult Thing about Being an Executive?

  1. 1
    As an executive, you are responsible for overseeing multiple departments and projects, which can often lead to conflicting demands on your time and attention. This can be challenging, as you must prioritize tasks and projects based on their importance and urgency.
    Balancing competing priorities is the challenge of being a leader where one has to navigate and allocate time, resources, and attention to various conflicting demands and objectives.
    • Complexity: It involves dealing with multiple tasks and objectives simultaneously.
    • Decision-making: Requires making tough choices and prioritizing between conflicting priorities.
    • Resource allocation: Involves distributing limited resources effectively and efficiently.
    • Time management: Leaders need to juggle multiple responsibilities within limited time constraints.
    • Communication: Effective communication is essential to manage and negotiate competing priorities.
    Balancing competing priorities in other rankings
  2. 2
    Delegation is an important part of being an executive, but it can also be difficult to ensure that tasks are being completed to the desired standard. It requires trust in your team members, clear communication, and the ability to provide guidance and feedback when necessary.
    Delegating effectively refers to the ability of an executive to assign tasks and responsibilities to others in a manner that optimizes productivity and ensures successful outcomes. It involves entrusting tasks and decision-making authority to capable individuals within the organization, while providing clear guidance and support.
    • Clear communication: Effectively communicating expectations, requirements, and goals when delegating tasks.
    • Task assessment: Evaluating tasks to determine their suitability for delegation, considering factors such as urgency, complexity, and importance.
    • Competency evaluation: Assessing the skills, knowledge, and capabilities of team members to ensure proper task allocation.
    • Trust building: Establishing trust and confidence in the abilities of individuals to whom tasks are delegated.
    • Support provision: Providing necessary resources, guidance, and assistance to ensure the successful completion of delegated tasks.
  3. 3
    In today's fast-paced business environment, change is inevitable. As an executive, it is your responsibility to manage change effectively, ensuring that your organization adapts to new circumstances while maintaining productivity and profitability. This can be challenging, as change can be disruptive and resistance to change can be common.
    Managing change refers to the process of planning, implementing, and monitoring changes within an organization to ensure smooth transitions and successful outcomes. It involves understanding the need for change, creating a clear vision, overcoming resistance, and empowering stakeholders to adapt to new ways of working.
    • Continuous process: Managing change is an ongoing, continuous process that requires constant monitoring and adaptation.
    • Effective communication: Open and effective communication is crucial to managing change and ensuring that all stakeholders are informed and engaged.
    • Change readiness assessment: Assessing the organization's readiness for change helps identify potential barriers and develop strategies to address them.
    • Change management plan: A well-structured plan outlines the goals, timeline, resources, and actions required for successful change implementation.
    • Resistance management: Anticipating and addressing resistance to change is essential to minimize disruptions and gain buy-in from stakeholders.
    Managing change in other rankings
  4. 4
    Executives must build and maintain relationships with a variety of stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and investors. This requires strong interpersonal skills, the ability to communicate effectively, and a deep understanding of the needs and expectations of each stakeholder group.
    Building and maintaining relationships is a challenging aspect of leading that involves establishing and nurturing connections with individuals or groups to foster collaboration and mutual understanding.
    • Effective Communication: Being able to convey information clearly and actively listen to others.
    • Trust and Empathy: Developing trust through honesty, integrity, and showing understanding and compassion.
    • Conflict Resolution: Addressing conflicts and finding resolutions in a constructive manner.
    • Networking: Proactively establishing and nurturing a network of professional relationships.
    • Collaboration: Creating an environment that encourages teamwork and cooperation.
    Building and maintaining relationships in other rankings
  5. 5
    As an executive, you will often be faced with difficult decisions that have a significant impact on your organization and its stakeholders. This requires the ability to analyze complex information, weigh the risks and benefits of different options, and make tough choices that are in the best interests of the organization.
    Making tough decisions is one of the most challenging aspects of leadership. It requires leaders to assess different options, consider potential consequences, and choose the best course of action in difficult situations. These decisions often involve weighing priorities, managing conflicts, and dealing with uncertainty. Making tough decisions is a crucial skill for leaders to navigate complex issues, drive organizational success, and inspire confidence in their team.
    • Critical thinking: Ability to analyze information and evaluate options objectively
    • Problem-solving: Skill to identify and address underlying problems
    • Risk assessment: Capability to evaluate potential risks and benefits
    • Ethical considerations: Awareness of moral and ethical implications of decisions
    • Communication: Effectiveness in conveying reasoning and outcomes to stakeholders
    Making tough decisions in other rankings
  6. 6
    In uncertain times, executives must provide leadership and guidance to their organizations. This can be challenging, as uncertainty can create anxiety and indecision among employees and stakeholders. It requires the ability to communicate effectively, maintain a positive outlook, and provide a clear vision for the future.
    Leading through uncertainty is the ability of an executive to guide their organization and make crucial decisions in times of ambiguity, unpredictability, and limited information. It involves having the confidence and skills to navigate through uncertain and complex situations, while ensuring organizational stability and progress.
    • Adaptability: Being flexible and open-minded to adjust strategies and plans as new information emerges.
    • Decisiveness: Capable of making tough decisions with limited information or conflicting opinions.
    • Communication: Effectively conveying the organization's vision, goals, and plans to maintain employee morale and alignment.
    • Emotional Intelligence: Understanding and managing emotions, both your own and others, during times of uncertainty.
    • Risk Management: Identifying and mitigating risks associated with uncertain situations.
  7. 7
    Managing risk
    US gov · Public domain
    Executives must be able to identify potential risks to their organization and take steps to mitigate them. This requires a deep understanding of the business environment, the ability to analyze data and trends, and the willingness to make tough decisions to reduce risk.
    Managing risk refers to the process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential threats or uncertainties that can affect the achievement of an executive's goals and objectives. It involves making decisions and taking actions to minimize the negative impact of potential risks while maximizing the opportunities that may arise.
    • Identification: Identify and analyze potential risks that may arise in the organization.
    • Assessment: Evaluate the probability and potential impact of each identified risk.
    • Mitigation: Develop strategies and measures to reduce the likelihood or impact of identified risks.
    • Monitoring: Continuously monitor the effectiveness of risk mitigation measures and update as needed.
    • Decision-making: Make informed decisions based on the assessment of risks and their potential consequences.
  8. 8
    As an executive, you must be able to maintain focus on your organization's goals and objectives, even in the face of distractions and competing priorities. This requires discipline, the ability to prioritize tasks, and the willingness to delegate responsibilities to others.
    Maintaining focus as an executive refers to the challenge of staying concentrated on the strategic goals and objectives amidst various distractions and competing priorities. It involves ensuring that the efforts and decision-making align with the overall vision and mission of the organization.
    • Attention management: Ability to prioritize tasks and manage time effectively.
    • Goal alignment: Aligning personal and team goals with organizational objectives.
    • Decision-making: Making informed decisions that support the long-term success of the organization.
    • Delegation: Delegating tasks to capable team members to maintain focus on strategic matters.
    • Effective communication: Ensuring clear and concise communication to avoid misunderstandings and keep everyone focused.
  9. 9
    Executives must build a strong team that is capable of achieving the organization's goals and objectives. This requires the ability to identify and recruit talented individuals, provide training and development opportunities, and foster a collaborative and supportive work environment.
    Building a strong team is a challenging task for a leader as it requires effective communication, collaboration, and guidance to bring together individuals with diverse skills, personalities, and backgrounds to work towards a common goal. This involves fostering a supportive and inclusive environment where team members can thrive and contribute their best.
    • 1: Effective Communication
    • 2: Collaboration
    • 3: Guidance
    • 4: Team Diversity
    • 5: Inclusion
    Building a strong team in other rankings
  10. 10

    Managing time effectively

    Leadership Development Program
    As an executive, time is a precious commodity. You must be able to manage your time effectively, balancing your responsibilities and ensuring that you are using your time in the most productive way possible. This requires prioritization, delegation, and effective time management strategies.
    Managing time effectively is one of the most challenging aspects of being a leader. It involves the ability to prioritize tasks, allocate resources, and meet deadlines in order to achieve desired outcomes.
    • Skill Level: Advanced
    • Importance: High
    • Complexity: Moderate
    • Criticality: Critical
    • Key Skills: Time management, prioritization, resource allocation
    Managing time effectively in other rankings

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Ranking factors for difficult thing

  1. Decision making
    Executives are constantly faced with difficult choices that can have significant consequences for their organization. They need to evaluate risks, consult with various stakeholders, and make decisions that can sometimes be unpopular.
  2. Accountability
    Executives shoulder a great amount of responsibility for the success or failure of their organization. They are accountable to their employees, shareholders, board of directors, and customers, which can be a source of stress and pressure.
  3. Leadership
    Strong leadership skills are essential for executives. They must be able to inspire and motivate their teams, resolve conflicts, and efficiently communicate their vision and direction.
  4. Time management and work-life balance
    Executives often work long hours, juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities. This can lead to burnout and can make it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  5. Handling criticism
    Executives must be able to handle criticism from various sources, including employees, shareholders, and the media. They need to be open to feedback and able to adapt when necessary.
  6. Adaptability and change management
    Businesses and industries are constantly evolving, and executives must be able to adapt to new technologies, market conditions, and customer demands. They also need to be skilled at leading their organization through periods of change.
  7. Strategic planning
    Executives must have a strong vision for the future of their company and be able to devise and implement the strategies necessary to achieve that vision.
  8. Stakeholder management
    Executives need to effectively communicate with and manage relationships with various stakeholders, including investors, regulators, employees, customers, and suppliers.
  9. Financial management
    Executives must have a strong understanding of their organization's finances and be able to make informed decisions about budgeting, investments, and cost-cutting measures.
  10. Talent management
    Executives must be able to attract, retain, and develop top talent for their organization. They need to create a positive work culture and environment that encourages growth, innovation, and collaboration.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult thing about being an Executive. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or thing is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 175 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each thing once every 24 hours. The rank of each thing is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most difficult thing about being an executive

Being an executive is a challenging and demanding job that requires a unique set of skills and qualities. Executives are responsible for making critical decisions that can have a significant impact on the success of their organization. They must possess excellent leadership, communication, and decision-making skills to navigate complex situations and manage a team effectively. However, despite the many rewards of being an executive, there are also significant challenges that come with the role. From managing a demanding workload to dealing with high levels of stress, being an executive requires a strong sense of resilience and adaptability. In this article, we will explore some of the most difficult things about being an executive and provide insights into how to overcome these challenges.

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