At a recent HR conference, Rebecca, the VP of Human Resources for a growing technology company, compared notes with fellow HR executives about their experiences engaging CEO coaching services for their respective CEOs (maintaining professional confidentiality of course!).
Naturally, there were challenges, and an interesting perspective was shared about how executive coaching for CEOs actually benefits the entire organization. But as the group talked, many shared similar experiences and perceptions about how their CEOs evolved and improved in critical leadership characteristics and behaviors.
Improving CEO Leadership Skills with CEO Coaching Services
Circumstances and coaching goals varied, but the following areas were most often mentioned as areas of improvement and development resulting from CEO coaching services.
8 Amazing Benefits of CEO Coaching Services
1. Emotional Intelligence
The group quickly acknowledged that improved emotional intelligence was foundational for their CEO, and their ability to grow in other areas. As conceived by Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is a way of looking at the ability you have to manage yourself and your relationships.
Heightened awareness of yourself, such as your emotional state and how your behavior impacts your employees, and awareness of others, such as empathy and strong listening skills are fundamental. But being able to act on that awareness is what builds and shows true emotional intelligence. In a real sense, emotional intelligence is the foremost leadership skill. Rebecca and others saw significant improvement in their CEOs as their CEO coaching services progressed.
2. Communication Skills
Rebecca and the group agreed that communication was a critical leadership skill for their CEOs. Virtually every CEO had begun their ascent to the C-Suite by first becoming accomplished in a functional area of business, such as IT, engineering, finance, logistics, or marketing — and in situations where the ability to communicate was not always essential.
When transitioning from subject matter expert to leader, communication is often the skill that needs the most improvement. And this was an area where the HR discussion group saw significant, measurable progress after executive coaching. The ability to communicate effectively allows their CEOs to more successfully articulate their strategic vision, inspire employees, motivate people, and accomplish organizational goals.
3. Collaboration and Teamwork
Many CEOs have a history of being “lone wolves.” And there are limits to that approach when it comes to sustained success in leading others. Rebecca and the others in her discussion group shared instances where the coaching was focused on leadership skills that supported teamwork and building collaborative organizational cultures — from building trust and supporting productive debate to accountability and focusing on results.
Patrick Lencioni’s approach to team performance was used, at a higher level, by many executive coaches. Many lone wolf CEOs benefited from re-considering their senior leadership groups, divisions, and departments as “teams” to be nurtured and worked with… not “directed” with CEO coaching services.
Related to the lone wolf, several CEOs had a history of rolling up their sleeves and “doing it themselves.” Some HR directors in the group shared instances where their CEO undertook every meaningful component of a project or strategic initiative — to “get it done right” the CEO would say.
The executive coaches helped their CEOs realize that not delegating is a time trap. Without delegation, how could they possibly find the time and focus to be better strategic thinkers and work on crucial new initiatives? How else would they find the time to motivate and inspire their employees? CEO coaching services then helped many of the CEOs build effective delegation skills and techniques.
5. Giving Feedback
Rebecca’s group of HR executives observed a similar need for giving (effective) feedback. While the classic stereotype of a CEO giving feedback is an overly direct bull-in-a-china-shop, some in the group talked about their CEOs being very uncomfortable and reluctant to give difficult feedback.
CEOs benefitted from CEO coaching services that improved their skills in giving feedback — useful, productive, constructive feedback that made their employees more successful. Rebecca noted that the SBI feedback model was especially useful for many.
6. Executive Presence
Some of the CEOs discussed in Rebecca’s HR group had struggled to develop a sense of their “presence” as a leader. Somehow, the brilliant CEO-strategist, -engineer, -systems designer found it difficult to project “executive presence” among all their employees.
Their CEO coaches worked with them to develop their executive presence — in many respects, a combination of self-confidence, authenticity, and poise. The benefit of improved executive presence to these CEOs resonated across other leadership skills and characteristics, from communication and motivating their employees to deliver feedback and leading organizational change.
7. Driving Organizational Change
The topic of change came up often in the group conversation. Change is a constant in the life of a leader. Economies change, industries change, markets change, customers change, and employee needs and expectations change. It’s a CEO’s job to inspire and drive change throughout their organization. From Rebecca’s perspective, driving change was an essential and fundamental part of her CEO’s job description.
Some CEOs found it beneficial for their CEO coaching services to define coaching goals and organize leadership skills development through the prism of managing and leading change. In addition to communication, team building, and strategic thinking, many found that focusing on their (and their organization’s) resilience was also helpful.
8. Leveraging CEO Coaches as Thought Partners
As Rebecca and the group of HR executives wrapped up their conversation, someone mentioned that their CEO had thanked him for providing her with someone she could really talk to — about anything, with absolute confidentiality. Others said their CEOs had made similar comments.
Rebecca summed it up nicely. “My CEO’s executive coach became his ‘thought partner.’ He could talk about what was on his mind, what he struggles with — what keeps him up at 2:00 am — in complete safety and confidentiality. And better yet, with an experienced expert who challenged his thinking, but in a safe space.”
The cliche, “It’s lonely at the top” is a reality for CEOs. And CEO coaching services are an expert, confidential, and objective thought partner. There are certain things a CEO can discuss with their senior team… and certain things they cannot. Or perhaps, not yet — for example, a CEO may be exploring an issue or an opportunity and working through what they want to bring to their senior team.
Many in Rebecca’s group said that after their initial coaching engagement, their CEOs plan on continuing monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual meetings with their executive coaches to continue their progress and their journey as leaders.
Find the Best CEO Coaching Services for You
To learn more about how great CEO coaching services will help you improve your organization’s performance and develop leadership skills in your CEO and C-Suite executives, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.