CEOs of the 500 largest public companies in the U.S. — and found that 56 of them had a hobby they were quite serious about, and long-term committed to.Like everyone else, CEOs benefit from hobbies unrelated to their careers via the Temin effect, named after Nobel Prize-winning scientist and enthusiastic hobby-pursuer Howard Temin. The Temin effect means, basically, that serious hobbies can help you make unexpected interdisciplinary connections at work. In a CEO position — an inherently multifaceted role, where you’re trying to creatively optimize a million conflicting things — the Temin effect can fuel creative problem-solving.
But how else does a hobby help a CEO lead? Well, the study above found that:
Hobbies help CEOs stay humble.
CEOs who consider themselves infallible make bad decisions. Trying their best at a hobby and still not really succeeding reminds them that they’re human and that they still have room to grow.
It lets them switch off their work brain.
Ironically, when you have a high-intensity job, relaxation can cease to be relaxing. Even while watching TV or passively lounging on a beach, your mind can wander back to work and its stresses. (It can even happen in your sleep — hence stress dreams!) An absorbing hobby takes active concentration, though, which means it takes CEOs’ minds completely off work and recharges them in a way a “Killing Eve” marathon can’t.
Hobbies help CEOs get to know their subordinates.
Good CEOs know what’s going on with the rank and file at their companies — which means that even though they’re technically everyone’s boss, they need to get past the “Yes, boss, whatever you say, boss” dynamic. Joining in hobby-related activities with their subordinates can help them do just do that.
It lets them work solo.
CEOs seem to be “in charge,” but really, they’re constantly making compromises to accommodate their board, their budgets, and government regulations. Hobbies give CEOs an opportunity to succeed and fail all on their own, which can be a balm for work-related frustrations (and an exercise in personal accountability).
We know that what looks like “wasting time” — which can mean going for a walk or even taking a nap — can be professionally worthwhile. Turns out, hobbies offer myriad professional benefits, too, even for people in leadership roles who you might imagine work all the time. After all, Elizabeth Holmes said she worked 16-hour days at Theranos and slept just four hours a night. That didn’t turn out so great for her, did it?