THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of Tyco
International, L. Dennis Kozlowski, calls his job "a game of endurance."
He starts work each day at dawn and goes nonstop for 16 hours or
more. Last Wednesday, for example, he had a 6 a.m. meeting with
investment bankers in Boston and then flew to Livingston, N.J., to meet
for several hours with employees of CIT Group, the financial-services
business that Tyco just announced plans to acquire.
He then traveled to New York City to have dinner with the chief
executive of a company Tyco does business with, and didn't check into
his hotel there until after 11 p.m.
He slept for just five hours -- his usual regimen -- and was on the
phone the next morning at 5:30 a.m. with staffers in Europe. Then, he
held a series of back-to-back meetings all day with employees and
investors before heading to a dinner at a Chinese restaurant "to talk
about synergies with CIT," he says.
"This is what it takes to be a CEO, and if you're not willing to do
it you should step out of the way so someone else can take your place,"
says Mr. Kozlowski, who is 54 years old and believes he was born with
the ability to keep going when everyone around him wants to stop and
rest. "As a kid, I drove my parents crazy."
THIS BOUNDLESS ENERGY is a common trait in most CEOs, and a
critical one. As business becomes more global and technology calls for
24/7 performance, those who lead companies must be able to move through
several time zones several times a week, and communicate with staff and
customers around the clock.
"Travel time used to be downtime, but now I'm on the phone or e-mail
while on airplanes," says Mr. Kozlowski, who worries that if he stays
out of touch for even a few hours he'll miss something important. "While
you sleep, things are going on in Asia."
So how do CEOs sustain and replenish their high energy levels? Mr.
Kozlowski says he refuels on weekends -- but that doesn't mean rest. He
rides his motorcycles and races his sailboat.
Apple Computer's Steve Jobs, 46, stays energized during the week by
avoiding caffeine and drinking lots of water throughout his long
workdays. T.J. Rodgers, president and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor,
rarely breaks for lunch. But five times a week, the 55-year-old Mr.
Rodgers leaves his office midday for a five- or six-mile run. When he
wants to do an extra mile or two, he'll give up changing time and sit in
his wet running clothes for the rest of the afternoon. "The jogging
keeps him focused and strong," says a spokesperson.
Unlike scientists, scholars or even surgeons, who must concentrate
for long periods of time on one task or goal, business leaders must move
quickly from situation to situation, handling scores of disconnected
events each day.
CEOs tend to thrive on the pace and diversity. "Sometimes you have
fires blazing in one place that you need to put out, and then you must
quickly shift gears and go calmly to another location where you have to
do something ceremonious," says Kay Koplovitz, the 55-year-old CEO of
Working Women Network.
SHE TRIES TO RESERVE some energy for reflection and some
strategic thinking. "If you are always reacting to people and things,
you are not moving your business forward," says Ms. Koplovitz.
Each day, she ensures she takes some time to think without
interruptions. She typically does this while working out at the gym --
or when traveling. She also boosts her energy by participating in
"When you are whitewater rafting in class-five waters or altitude
hiking, you have to pay rapt attention and can't let thoughts about
business intrude," she says. That focus "takes my energy but also frees
me [from everyday concerns] and so restores my energy."
Even the most vigorous CEOs, however, must learn to let go of some
workplace tasks, or risk burnout. Kimberly-Clark Chairman and CEO Wayne
R. Sanders, 53, realized while on a 15-day swing through Asia two years
ago that he needed help overseeing his company's expanded global
He had been logging thousands of miles flying overseas each month and
then putting in marathon hours between trips to catch up with work at
Dallas headquarters. Unable to sleep one night in a foreign hotel,
reading a book and eating a candy bar, he realized he needed to delegate
some of his workload. Soon after, he named a No. 2, President Thomas J.
Mr. Sanders now focuses on investor relations and other CEO matters
at home, while Mr. Falk, 42, travels extensively, managing
Kimberly-Clark's world-wide operations.
Michael Fisch, the 38-year-old president of American Securities
Capital Partners, a New York leveraged buyout firm, admits, "I find work
more exciting when I'm running very hard and approaching things with a
sense of urgency."
As a child, he says, he thought about "whether it's more efficient to
button your shirt top to bottom or bottom to top." But he knows the
danger of never resting. "I know I'm in trouble," he says, "when I start
thinking that sleep is inefficient."