By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth
The question is; you’re already the CEO so why should you make the investment into retaining a Top CEO Coach? The obvious anwswer is CEOs simply have more to gain from intelligent counsel than any other person on the org chart. Given the nature of the position, along with the numerous studies, which provide ample data affirming the extraordinary results that can be achieved by utilizing a top CEO coach, I’m always amazed at the number of CEOs who don’t yet have a coach on retainer. In today’s blog post I’ll examine the reasons why I believe all (yes, I said all) chief executives should leverage the services of a top CEO coach.
As bright, talented, experienced, motivated and savvy as most CEOs are, they are only one person. Moreover, CEOs are the individual in the company most likely to be operating in a vacuum. The only thing CEOs can count on is their performance is constantly being evaluated by virtually everyone in the value chain. Combine that with the fact performance standards and expectations are constantly being raised, and it is no wonder that CEOs often feel overwhelmed. The simple truth is, there is no more difficult job than that of the chief executive. This is largely because the proverbial buck stops with the CEO as he or she is expected to have all the answers and make all the tough decisions.
Executives who rise to the C-suite do so largely based upon their ability to consistently make sound decisions. However, while it may take years of solid decision making to reach the boardroom, it often times only takes one bad decision to fall from the ivory tower. The reality is in today’s competitive business world, an executive is only as good as his/her last decision, or their ability to stay ahead of contemporaries and competitors. CEOs who don’t maintain an edge will be replaced by those who do. One of the keys to maintaining such an advantage is to find someone who can keep you on the razor’s edge (see why CEOs most often call me).
As the CEO, the reality is you have no true peers within the business, so where do you turn for advice and counsel? If you’re like many CEOs, you’re put in the awkward position of seeking feedback from those individuals reporting to you. This is not where you should seek unbiased information, as it’s unlikely your subordinates will tell you the hard truths or provide you with open, candid criticism of your actions. They are certainly not in a position to hold you accountable, or most times, even provide you with intellectually challenging input.
Most successful chief executives make heavy investments in building their skill sets, knowledge base, and subject matter expertise early in their careers, only to make minimal investments in their professional development when they reach the C-suite. It is however at the C-suite level an executive must be on top of his/her game as they have the broadest sphere of influence, the largest ability to impact a business, and they also now have the most at risk. It is at this point in the career lifecycle the CEO should make the heaviest investment in refining their game because it’s at this level increased performance will pay the biggest dividends.
Wouldn’t it be nice to seek counsel from an objective third party who has walked in your shoes, and is not caught-up in office politics therefore having no axe to grind or turf to protect someone who has an extensive network outside your business and is a true intellectual and experiential peer of yours? A top CEO coach can afford all these benefits and more…
In addition to my operating duties at N2growth, I also maintain an active personal advisory practice where I’ve worked with thousands of leaders around the globe, including working directly with more than 150 public company CEOs (most of whom are Fortune 500 chief executives). For most of these professionals, the decision to retain my services was driven by one of two distinct motivations; some had a defensive motive wanting to protect what they had worked so hard to achieve, and; others had an offensive motive looking to take their companies or careers to the next level.
Regardless of which camp the aforementioned CEOs fell into, they were already very successful people who recognized that its lonely at the top, and that they could not afford to keep operating in a vacuum. I actually have a few clients where I am just one member of a coaching team that is on call to deliver real time advice and assistance when the need arises.
I don’t actually like the term coach as a descriptor for what I do as that particular label can tend to give the wrong impression. Sure, in some cases I coach and/or mentor, but most of my clients simply view me as their closest personal advisor. As their advisor, my role is to serve them in the manner of greatest value whether it be behind the scenes or in plain view. Over the years I have played the role of ambassador, emissary, influencer, facilitator, expediter, personal brand manager, lobbyist, buffer/shield, crisis manager, negotiator, publicist, strategist, tactician, collaborative thinker and a variety of other roles as needed. These are the capabilities chief executives should look for in a coach. I urge you not to settle for anything less than the best advisor available.
The question is not whether coaching will provide results, rather, it’s can you find the right coach capable of producing the results you’re looking for? While my personal practice is somewhat limited in terms of the type and number of clients I work with, we have other coaches that can assist you, or I can provide you with referrals to other professionals outside of our firm. Regardless of how you find your advisor, you should consider asking the following representative questions when evaluating a potential coach:
1. Who’s paying the coach? It is my recommendation that you personally retain the coach or use company funds under your discretionary control. You want someone whom you can trust implicitly, and whose loyalty is pledged to you and you alone. If the coach is being paid for by the board of directors or company investors then while you will likely still receive good advice, the coach’s loyalty will reside with someone other than you.
2. Is your coach qualified? Remember that the coaching industry is full of practitioners that paid a few hundred dollars for a professional designation, but yet have little or no real experience. Make sure that your coach not only possesses a track record, but that their skill sets and competencies are relevant to your needs.
3. Does your coach have references? The best indicator of a coach’s ability to help you will be based on how he or she has helped others…No successful clients’ equals a coach that should be avoided.
4. What does the coach charge for his/her services? Remember, you get what you pay for. If your coach is only charging a few hundred dollars a month it’s likely representative of the caliber of advice you’ll receive. If your total annual compensation is well into the seven figures, and your company is producing billions in revenue, then you can afford to (actually you can’t afford not to) retain the services of a tier-one coach.
In closing, I’ll issue an open challenge to any CEO reading this post: I can come-up with a virtually endless amount of legitimate reasons and benefits for why you should leverage the services of a top CEO coach, and I’ll bet you can’t come-up with a single valid reason (excuses are not reasons and don’t count) why you shouldn’t. If you would like to discuss how coaching can benefit you or your executives feel free to contact me. If you still have doubts about coaching Click Here to see what other noted executives and the media are saying about retaining an executive coach. Best wishes for continued success.