As we gear up for the new year, I think it’s appropriate to revisit the need for CEOs to have a coach. We’ll ultimately discuss seven reasons why every CEO needs a coach, starting with reason 1: “Because it’s Lonely at the Top.”
Coaching is About Unlocking and Unleashing a Leaders Full Potential
Bear in mind that a study by Stanford University and the Miles Group a couple of years ago identified a significant gap between CEO receptivity to coaching (which 95% of them expressed) and the proportion of CEOs who actually receive coaching (as less than one-third do). Unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to coaching by high-level executives and company boards, because coaching is seen as a remedial step rather than a performance enhancing step. This perception is clearly erroneous, as Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt explains in this video:
In 2014 we completed our bi-annual 2014 Trends in Talent Management and Executive Development research study. Published by Pearson, this global research study revealed a startling reality. In our survey of over 150 CEOs and HR vice presidents, we found that of the 35% of organizations that make use of executive coaching, fewer than half (48%) of them actually use executive coaching at the vice president level and above (not including C-level executives).
Our study, like the Stanford University / Miles Group study, found that only 30% of CEOs received outside coaching. And this, of course, means that more than two-thirds of CEOs do not receive outside coaching at all. Surprisingly, over half (52%) of the organizations we surveyed did not consider executive coaching as an important developmental strategy for their high-level executives.
Why It’s Lonely at the Top
When CEOs do partake of an executive coach’s services, they often bring a primary complaint that it’s lonely at the top. I have heard this from many of the CEO’s I have worked with. And it’s not something they would get much sympathy for from most people. Working with an executive coach, however, allows CEOs to have a professional relationship in which they can, in confidence, explore both their inner- and outer-core strengths and vulnerabilities. Most CEO’s have never had the opportunity, time or inclination to explore their inner-self yet, when they do, they most often will admit that while they see themselves as successful, that if they had done this work earlier in their life and career they would have even built a stronger legacy and brought even greater abundance to their families and their businesses. As a coach, it doesn’t matter how many times you here this. It is still numbing!
Having a coach also allows CEOs to maintain their focus on their worthiest leadership goals and strategies, while developing their altruistic and other-oriented sides. Building stronger relationships with constituent groups is another beneficial side effect of executive coaching. Whether you’re a CEO or not, many of the barriers that stand between us and our goals are self-imposed and unseen. A coach is trained to recognize these boundaries, where they come from, and how to overcome or remove them. The result is an executive who is the best leader possible.
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