Big Red Car here. Well, Old Sport, you know what’s next, right? Haha, great day in the ATX, ya’ll. Warm, clear, sunny and glorious. On Earth as it is in Austin, By God, Texas!
So The Boss is talking to one of his brilliant CEOs and they get into the subject of CEO coaching and all things related to advice.
The sanctity of CEO coaching
A good CEO coach advises the CEO and only the CEO. This is a very important predicate to establish at the onset of a coaching relationship.
It also has legal implications as a Boardmember owes their duty to all shareholders not just their own shares. This is an inherent and real conflict. This is a very broad duty and, at times, requires a Boardmember to act decisively once he possesses information of a certain nature.
A CEO coach owes his legal duty to the client and only the client. This is a very tightly drawn duty.
Why is that important, Big Red Car?
You ask why that is important, Old Sport?
A CEO does not want to unburden himself or herself or get themselves into a conversation with an investor or Boardmember about a subject which might result in his or her getting terminated.
One more time — do not discuss problems of such an intimate and serious nature that they might result in your getting fired with someone who has the authority and power to fire you. Seems simple enough.
Hey, Big Red Car, you sure?
Yes, the Big Red Car is absolutely sure about this consideration.
What you have stumbled upon is one of the most important reasons to retain a CEO coach — to provide a sounding board for CEOs to be able to discuss sensitive issues which are beyond the appropriate role of an investor or Boardmember to discuss.
It is awkward and inartful — unsuccessful in the extreme — to bring concerns about a Boardmember to, well, a Boardmember. Pretty damn obvious.
The Boss recently advised one of his brilliant CEOs through a situation which was fraught with peril and which dealt with the largest investor in the company’s firmament. The CEO handled it perfectly and was able to turn a difficult situation into a very positive outcome. This entailed a great number of conversations between the CEO and The Boss which allowed the CEO to take definitive and positive steps to turn what might have been a challenge to his tenure into what ultimately became an enhanced relationship.
In actuality, all The Boss did was to draw the solution out of the CEO. It was already in there but the CEO needed a bit of coaxing to find it and apply it.
The CEO built his confidence by having an experienced sounding board upon which to test his thoughts.
Pro tip for CEOs: many times you already have the solution within yourself and all you need is a bit of a nudge to find it and apply it. Talking about it with someone who has been behind that same desk for a third of a century will always help.
It did not hurt that in the course of 33+ years of CEOing, The Boss had dealt with such situations a myriad of times and already had a sense of how it might and should work out.
Do not pay full tuition experience, rent it cheap.
How do you solicit advice from your CEO coach
The greatest failing of American businessmen [Why only Americans, Big Red Car? Haha, OK, you got the Big Red Car on a bit of jingoism. Sorry.] is they fail to ask for a favor or to seek advice. Sure, you’re an all powerful and brilliant CEO, but ask for some help from time to time.
When introducing a topic to a CEO coach, just lay out the facts and ask: “Well, CEO Coach, WTF?”
A good CEO coach will begin to probe a bit and get you to develop the situation and then suggest other considerations. It’s just a conversation nothing more. The big benefit is that if you have the right CEO coach, you will likely be tapping into a lot of experience on such a subject.
In the spirit of full disclosure, The Boss was recently presented with a situation by one of his brilliant CEOs so unique as to literally knock The Boss out of his chair while Skype-ing. Not a pretty sight. The CEO and The Boss were able to reason it through but since then The Boss has been understandably wary about asking: “What’s new, brilliant CEO?” In this instance, the CEO had the solution within himself and, with a bit of luck, he handled it, well, brilliantly. Well played, CEO. [Haha, The Boss likes a bit of a surprise but this was a doozy.]
Last time — a CEO coach can provide a CEO with the ability to deal with problems and challenges which would jeopardize his continued employment if discussed with a Boardmember or investor. The CEO coach owes his only duty to the CEO. Work that CEO coach like a rented mule and suck his brain dry.
If you need a bit of chat about anything give The Boss a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-656-1383. The Boss will try to help you and it won’t cost you a penny for the first contact.