CEOs need leadership coaching. It may not seem like it because they are already in the top job. But the fact is that CEOs need leadership coaching probably more than anyone else in the organization.
Now, it’s true that you want to build your future leaders through leadership coaching. They do need to be coached in how to lead better than they currently do. No one disputes that. But many CEOs don’t realize they need leadership coaching for themselves.
Here are four reasons why CEOs need leadership coaching more than anyone else in the organization.
1. A lot of people are counting on them
While future leaders may have responsibility over some of the people at an organization, CEOs have responsibility over all the people at the organization. As a result, CEOs have a lot of people—and their families—counting on them to make good decisions.
With that many people’s livelihoods riding on their ability to lead, that’s not the place to be a lone ranger. They need someone who can give them good counsel, but more importantly they need someone who can listen.
CEOs didn’t get where they are by being stupid. They just need someone to help them sort out their thoughts. Because a lot of people depend on them to make the right decisions.
2. They don’t know what they don’t know
CEOs read a lot (or at least they should) to open themselves up to new perspectives, but at the same time they have only walked in their own shoes. And they don’t know what they don’t know unless they hear it from someone else.
They need someone who’s got their back: who is loyal to them, and who has their best interests at heart. They need someone who can offer a different perspective who understands the significance of the role they occupy.
At the same time, CEOs are only human. They are fallible and capable of mistakes. And that’s why they need leadership coaching: because they don’t know what they don’t know.
3. No one can or will tell them
In some companies, the CEOs are far removed from everyone else. In those companies, the CEOs are insulated from others by their own design. And they have closed themselves off from counsel by their own choice.
But in many other companies the employees are not aware they are empowered to challenge the CEO on ideas, plans, or strategies. It’s not because the CEO is trying to cut them out. The employees just aren’t aware they are empowered to say what they need to say.
In either situation, CEOs need someone who can speak frankly to them, respectfully yet directly, and not be concerned about the consequences. Especially if no one else can or will tell them what needs to be said.
4. It’s lonely at the top
Regardless of how enlightened CEOs are—or how good the culture is at their organization—the fact is that the CEO job is lonely. There is only one person in the top job, so by nature CEOs don’t have a peer in the organization.
CEOs need someone who can appreciate the role they have, but more importantly appreciate them for the person that they are. They are human beings who need others around them too. CEOs are just people, who happen to have a lot of responsibilities.
People are relational beings, and so are CEOs. They need leadership coaching so that they don’t feel alone at the top. CEOs need to have someone else they can share their professional highs and lows with—without judgment—who will accept them just as they are. Because it’s lonely at the top.
Leadership coaching is for CEOs too—in fact, especially for CEOs. Because they have so many people and their families counting on them to get it right, they need to have someone walk this journey with them. Without someone else to offer them counsel and perspective, they will only have their own experiences to draw upon—especially if others around them don’t feel empowered to offer that outlook. And CEOs need someone they can confide in and grow with so they don’t have to go it alone.
How much leadership coaching have you received?
Robert McFarland is the author of the bestsellers, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew and Dear Employee: What Your Boss Wishes You Knew. Robert is also President of Transformational Impact LLC, a leadership development consultancy helping companies make ideals actionable.