At the highest levels of many industries, talent wars are ongoing. When a company hires a CEO, they genuinely want to retain that person and help him or her function at the highest level while enjoying continued organizational success. Simultaneously, advances in technology and communications have led to globalization and a pace of change that is faster than ever. Expecting a CEO to walk in the door and have all the answers is unrealistic in today’s business world. Today’s CEO not only must have exceptional industry talent and experience, but also must employ outstanding “people skills” they may not have developed fully. The CEO coach helps by allowing companies to maximize return on their investment in their senior executive.
A Combination of Experience and Temperament
The successful CEO coach not only must have extensive and varied business experience, he or she must have high emotional intelligence. He or she must also realize that the job of the CEO coach is about the CEO, and must be willing to leave the ego at the door. An effective CEO coach must understand the different demands of different leadership roles, from first-line supervisors to middle management to the executive suite. And he or she must not only understand what makes a business tick, but what makes business people tick. CEO coaching is fast-paced, and companies keep score in terms of return on their coaching investment. Not everyone is cut out for the demands of CEO coaching.
What CEO Coaches Do
“Executive coaching” is a term that covers a lot of ground. Successful CEO coaches must first communicate with potential clients exactly what types of problems they are qualified to address. Some CEO coaches assist executives with motivating and managing difficult employees, while others may help executives develop more effective communication skills. Still others may be called upon to help an executive develop an optimal organizational structure. One way or the other, however, CEO coaches are brought in to make CEOs as effective as possible, whether by addressing skills gaps, providing motivation and confidence, or simply helping the new CEO adjust to the role.
Many Top CEO Coaches Were Mentored by Seasoned Coaches
Hands-on experience in executive coaching is indispensable. Ideally, a CEO coach will have interned under a more experienced coach who has provided plenty of feedback and evaluation. Additional experience may come from having been a business manager, having been mentored by a respected CEO coach, or having worked for many years at a consulting firm. As the career of a successful CEO coach progresses, it’s absolutely vital that that the coach keep current with the latest research in both business trends and organizational psychology. A CEO coach may have any number of former job titles, including CEO, COO, president, chairman of the board, principal, or founder. Evidence of strong leadership and financial skills is important, as is experience in managing groups of employees.
Qualities to Look for in an Executive Coach
Any CEO coach worth hiring should be a self-starter with unimpeachable integrity and work ethic. Furthermore, he or she should offer:
- Clarity about their process – where they start, where they want to go, and how to get there
- A point of view based on gathering comprehensive, honest feedback to create a clear picture of how the CEO is seen by the team
- A list of actual skills with which he or she will offer assistance, and how those skills have been developed in past clients
- The assurance of absolute discretion, because working with a CEO coach who dismisses the importance of confidentiality can be immensely damaging
- A track record of success, showing demonstrable ways of how past clients have made improvements
The attention the business community has directed toward executive coaching is great news, because it shows businesses are serious about the investment they make in a CEO. Hiring and keeping talent at the very top of the organizational chart can be extremely competitive, and bringing in a CEO coach can help ensure satisfaction on the part of the company and the CEO. But it’s important that organizations thoroughly vet anyone claiming to be a CEO coach. Any candidate coach should offer a solid track record and references and demonstrate extensive knowledge of the industry and the nature of the executive’s job. A CEO coach is an important investment, and I want you to approach it with solid knowledge and understanding of what the outstanding CEO coach can accomplish.