In my last post I explained why I hired a coach this year. This post reveals the top six reasons why other leaders have hired me.

For the most part, business owners and leaders are financially savvy. If they don’t make consistently good investment decisions, their businesses don’t perform well (or even survive). The leaders I’ve worked with this year knew how to evaluate an opportunity to judge the likelihood of getting a decent return.

So why did they invest in executive coaching?

 

#1 They had maxed out their personal bandwidth…

…but they still wanted to grow the company. CEOs, Presidents, and other top leaders tend to be high capacity individuals. They summon the stamina to work longer and harder, and they are thinking about their businesses every moment of the day. But eventually, we all run out of bandwidth. If the company has not reached its full potential, how can a maxed-out leader take it any further?

As a coach, I help executives re-balance their work, delegate effectively, learn how to hold managers accountable, and make full use of their executive assistants. “Only do what only you can do” is a great leadership filter, but it takes practice to apply it well.

 

#2 Their senior team was not a team

Unless you have mutual accountability, you don’t have a team. One business owner complained, “My top people are all running 100mph in different directions!” There is no coordination. Communication is hub-and-spoke rather than cross-department. And when something urgent and important comes up, the leader seems to be the only one willing and able to respond.

In my coaching role, I help executives turn their top managers into a real team and learn to lead them in assuming genuine ownership and responsibility. It’s so refreshing to see people in your company working together and thinking about the whole business!

 

#3 They had concerns with the capacity or competence of top people

Jim Collins famously said that a Level 5 Leader’s first priority is getting the right people in the right seats. Most CEOs I know would agree, and their people issues range from questions to concerns to certainty that some of their top people lack the capacity or competence to perform at the required level of excellence.

These leaders expect a coach to help them:

  • Gain confirmation or clarity around their people problems
  • Frame their approach to the issue
  • Succeed in having a difficult conversation
  • Know how to coach the employee to success
  • or Move the employee without creating a worse situation.

 

#4 There was chronic conflict at the top of the organization

Conflict takes many forms: cold tension, hot hostility, and passive-aggressive behavior. Lencioni says that leaders of top performing organizations have mastered the art of fighting fair—seeking out healthy conflict that churns the best ideas to the top and reveals bad decisions before they do damage. But most leadership teams bring several elephants to the board room. How much leadership time is wasted fighting relationship fires?

One of my strategies as a coach is to work with both the leader and his team. We have the opportunity to surface simmering issues and get them resolved. And then I teach them how to stay out of the ditch in the future.

 

#5 They wanted to take their leadership to another level

Executive leaders are smart people. They got into leadership positions because they understood the business and knew how to get things done. But the higher you go, the greater the demands on your people skills and emotional intelligence. Several of my clients had the self-awareness to recognize their own gaps and made their own development a high priority.

My good friend’s company, Strata Leadership, explains that A-players will not work for an executive whose leadership skills are lower than their own. As a coach, I help leaders take their game to the next level.

 

#6 They had a negative image or reputation internally

No one likes to be misunderstood or misrepresented. Every single one of my clients is passionate about taking good care of his people. But sometimes a moment of frustration, a lack of explanation, or a hasty assumption creates a bad impression of a leader in the eyes of his employees. Later events are interpreted to reinforce and confirm the bad rap. Pretty soon, you’re down in a hole, and the whole culture tanks.

One of my roles as a coach is to guide executives through the process of undoing the damage, rebuilding trust, and setting an example for a renewed positive culture.

 

Satisfaction. Fulfillment. Gratitude.

These words describe how I feel about the hard leadership work I have seen my clients do this year. When you are a leader, you get to go first. That means going first in self-management, in listening carefully, in owning your mistakes and saying sorry, in practicing real accountability, in developing your skills, in demonstrating trust, and in modeling the behavior you want to become your culture.

If you were facing one or more of these issues in your business, what solutions would you consider?

 

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Dr. Shero believes that leadership can be learned and that the best organizations intentionally develop leadership at every level. Leaders have the privilege of influencing other human lives for the better. That's why Phillip cares so much about learning to lead well and helping others do the same.

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