Executive coaching occurs when C-level professionals seek out guidance to help negotiate issues faced by people with their specific responsibilities. CEO coaches range from business psychologists who offer both issue-focused and general business advice to successful sports figures to self-help gurus .
CEOs, especially those new to their positions or having recently moved to new companies, can face many issues not encountered by people with fewer responsibilities. An effective CEO has to balance internal diplomacy and workplace issues with stockholder needs, which can be exceedingly tricky.
CEO training can help with issues such as how to build positive employee morale, how to effectively juggle all the new responsibilities faced by a C-level executive, how to support other company leaders as they do their jobs, and much more.
Top-level executives can be pulled in many different directions, and it can seem as though you'd need almost superhuman abilities to stay on top of every aspect of a multifaceted organization. In addition, many decisions demand a quick response, so an effective CEO needs to have all the necessary information all the time to act accordingly.
A personal executive coach can help a busy executive learn to build channels of curated information that allow them to act quickly and responsibly, and a coach can also help a CEO work decisively and properly delegate responsibilities to reliable support staff while avoiding overwhelm.
Executive coaching can be a limited-term engagement, but many CEO coaching engagements are long-term. Even the most focused leaders can find themselves asked to weigh in on issues that pull them away from the big-picture mindset they have to preserve to effectively lead.
A long-term personal executive coach learns the CEO's strengths and weaknesses and can help them stay on track while ensuring reliable personnel are in place, taking care of issues and allowing the CEO to focus on the bird's eye perspective they need to maintain to do their job well.
- Help CEOs maintain a bird's eye view of their companies.
- Ensure executives have effective, reliable support staff in place.
- Provide a subjective, outside-the-organization viewpoint.
- Identify both the CEO's strengths and weaknesses and advise accordingly.
- Establish and retain a supportive relationship with the CEO.
- Remain a consistent sounding board for CEO consultation.
An effective executive coach is able to learn and understand both the needs of the CEO and the needs of the organization, and create a workable balance between the two. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and a CEO leadership training professional will identify them and help the executive effectively use the former while addressing the latter.
Another skill found in professional executive coaches is the ability to remain objective. While they are a resource for the CEO, they're hired by the company, so their responsibility is balanced between the issues of the CEO and the organization as a whole. If the CEO coach thinks the CEO is making bad decisions, it's the coach's responsibility to step in and help the leader step back, reframe, and reconsider.
If you're about to become a first-time CEO, training courses probably can't hurt. They'll likely address common questions posed by new executives. As such, however, they're by nature general, so while a lot of what's discussed will be applicable to your new position, none of it will focus on issues specific to your company.
CEO training courses can be industry-specific, focused on issues commonly faced by CEOs in, say, pharmaceuticals, retail, or web startups. Still, every company is its own unique organism, so while CEO courses can provide a foundation they're no substitute for a committed personal executive coach.
- Ability to accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses of a leader.
- Capacity to remain calm while while involved in potentially stressful situations.
- Talent for identifying the CEO's responsibilities balanced with their personal aptitude.
- Strength to help CEO through leadership challenges.
- Understanding of organizational psychology.
While executive coaching can be a positive experience for both the CEO and their organization, the wrong type of CEO coaching can be detrimental to continued success. Executive coaches can range wildly, from specialists in leadership and corporate psychology to successful sports coaches who apply their knowledge with a broad brush.
You can pick up nuggets of actionable intelligence from someone outside your industry, but you should balance that with in-depth assessment and assistance from a professional CEO coach who knows your business. That said, remember that the best coach isn't and will never be a yes-person. You don't need a cheerleader who supports your every decision; to be the best leader you can be, you need someone strong enough to tell you when you're wrong. Sometimes you need to be shown the right path by a subjective observer, someone you can trust to tell you "no" when it's in the best interests of your company.
Executive coaching should focus exclusively on your job, while executive life coaching concerns how to maintain a personal life as you address the demands of your business leadership. The lines can blur a bit - for example, when you have your professional life under control you can better focus on your personal life - but there should be a clear difference in focus.
Executive life coaching will help you create a positive work-life balance, while professional executive coaching helps you lead a company that depends on your ability to consistently make the decisions that ensure continued success and growth.