Coaching the C-Suite
This article first appeared in the Crown Grace International (http://crowngraceinternational.com) website.
No longer is a company run by a single person with ultimate authority and little direct responsibility. Things have changed; drastically. In the old days, if there was a problem with production, the VP of production was put to the grindstone. If marketing was not producing enough sales leads, then change must occur, or the shareholders will not be happy.
The definition of leadership has changed to something more tangible than top-down memos to “get it right.” Most executives will describe leadership in terms of financial management and control, HR, strategic planning, return on investment and capital acquisition, among others. The fact is that management is not leadership.
The C-Suite executives must forever be scanning the horizon for trends that might assist (or possibly hurt) the status quo, and be guiding those on the front lines to charge the wall one more time. There are several points that corporate executives must be mindful of in order to achieve the goals established for them. Succinctly put, the CEO and those closest to her/him should have a new skill set beyond management of assets and liabilities—they must lead.
What the C-Suite has come to learn through executive coaching (if they can put their ego aside for a while) is that leadership is about shifting the focus of the bottom line to that of the individuals that make up the company. There is no bottomless pit of qualified candidates waiting to fill the mass amount of jobs, simply because the economy has pulled every ounce of HR fat from the proverbial carcass. Companies are so lean that everyone does more with less, longer hours and less gratitude than ever before.
There are a number of reasons for an engagement with an executive coach: succession planning for a retiring CEO, executive training, and development for upward progression, communications coaching, the board of director transitions, communications coaching, etc. While some companies openly work on their leadership skill sets, others are resisting the inevitable change that is required.
There is so much change going on in America’s businesses. Everything from the generational gaps and diversity of cultural differences to the shift from traditional marketing to digital marketing is all happening concurrently. The pace of business today is twice or three times that of the previous generations. Today’s occupants of the C-Suite must have the skill sets to lead this diverse group and responsibilities effectively.
Coaching the C-Suite can be performed in a module format. The focus of coaching is to help the executive:
Become a Listener – This is a skill that many CEO’s and executive level individuals with which could use some help. Consciously being aware of what is being said and thinking prior to responding is a skill that takes the time to master. Not everyone is looking for a solution, despite the fact that it’s the top management’s job to find solutions.
Engage Others – An authentic connection with people is crucial to leadership, and when we engage vigorously with others, we develop a better understanding of a given situation. Take the time to thoughtfully engage and open a discourse for the benefit of all parties.
Become Self-Aware – Make a conscious effort to pay attention to your own actions. Are you really a control freak, or are people making this type of comment up? Can you listen without judgment, hearing all sides of a situation and NOT put your two cents into the discussion? Pay attention to the feedback from others and take it to heart. You’d be surprised how people perceive you as you perceive yourself so differently.
Embrace Change – The only constant in business and life is change, yet most of us resist it. Change is healthy more times than not, and the “silver lining” can be found in just about any adverse circumstance. Adapting to an ever-changing environment is critical for sustainability, as the pace of business is always accelerating.
Coaching for the C-Suite provides a way to develop the skills necessary to inspire, motivate and reward in ways preceding generations were unaware. Analysis of the strengths and areas of needed improvement, as well as assisting in creating clear and concise goals, developing a plan for implementation of action steps, and honing skill sets to eliminate stumbling blocks are all part of the coach’s responsibilities to ensure performance enhancement.
Coaching the C-Suite is in great demand as the shift in business thinking has picked up pace. With the proper skill sets, determination and an open minded group, the executive coach can enhance the leadership capabilities and aid a more sure-footed overall business sustainability.
David Dunworth is an International Best Selling Author and the Chief Experiences Officer at Marketing Partners LLC. As Chief Creative, his areas of expertise are well sprinkled with awards, recognition and international acclaim. With a global client base, David plays a vital role in helping businesses large and small tell their story in compelling, engaging content formats. From digital media to multi-media distribution, he and his company support inbound marketing agencies, their clients and individual enterprises in the UK, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States. David is a believer in focused discipline, tenacious research, and performance driven content creation. You may find a portfolio of his work at https://localmarketing.today and theovercaffeinatedentrepreneur.wordpress.com.