Do you have a coach? If you know me, you know I am fully convinced that business executives need coaching – not just feedback loops and occasional mentorship. Coaching is a realm unto itself.
CEOs are wise to implement developmental feedback loops with C-Level direct reports, but deeper changes and the personal vulnerability that comes with it can only be obtained from a seasoned, effective coach outside their walls. Beyond bringing a fresh perspective to business decisions and personal development along the way, there are 3 key reasons:
- Similar Experience:
Engaging an external coach who has “walked the same path” and “has the same scars” provides a foundation of familiarity that quickly builds trust. It’s also simply not possible to reflect on certain bad decisions with direct reports or the board. The decisions themselves (such as a bad hire) and the cure (fire and rehire) require humility and checking ego and pride at the door to say, “I really blew it.” An experienced coach can receive such topics in private and also look the CEO in the eye and draw out those topics for effective discussion asking, “You need to come clean and admit to yourself that you really blew it.”
- Disrupting Your Team:
An external coach is disinterested in raises, promotions or political positioning – all of which are realities that live in the hearts of those on your C-Level team. There is obvious value in being transparent with your team, and many will welcome the news that the CEO has a coach. Changes in the CEOs management behavior, participation in 360 interviews with the coach and observing optimized strategic decisions is positive evidence any team will welcome. That said, the sensitive content and conversations contained within any coaching process would cause significant disruptions in those C-level relationships.
- Boards Can Be Fickle:
While transparency and seeking counsel or even a little mentorship here and there from board members may work well, there is a chasm of difference when it comes to the level of vulnerability required in an effective coaching relationship. Boards, especially investors, are interested, rightfully and dutifully so, with enterprise value creation. They have a duty to address ANY risks or impediments along the path to value creation. A coaching relationship with a board member that brings deeper issues to the board’s attention can have some very obvious unintended consequences including loss of board confidence.
To state the obvious: This is a pithy summary that only begins to scratch the surface of an important topic and in no way is this an exhaustive examination.
So, do you have a coach? If not, why not?