Do you remember when you started out on your career and looked up to the lofty heights of the Executive level? You might even have thought to yourself that one day, you’d be the CEO and know it all!
It’s funny, but the closer you get to that level, the more you realise there is to know, to do and to be.
There is no end to learning. It’s like imagining that Serena Williams might stop practicing or developing new techniques once she won the U.S. Open. That didn’t happen. She liked to keep expert guidance at hand so she could improve every day. That’s the same attitude you need whether you’re a CEO or aspiring to the role.
One of the smartest things you can do for yourself, your current role and your career is to build a strong relationship with an executive coach. Here are four reasons to work with an Executive Coach this year.
To stretch you.
Let’s face it: who’s going to be willing to stretch you when you get towards the top of the organisation? The higher you get, the more likely it is you’ll be surrounded by people who just want to please you. There are not many people who would be willing to risk their jobs or careers by challenging your ideas. An executive coach will do that fairly and impartially, with a perspective free from internal influences.
Prepare you for opportunities that may arise
Even if you’re CEO, your career is not over unless you’re ready to retire. There are more roles, other companies, and opportunities which might arise unexpectedly – perhaps to do the things you’ve been dreaming of. You need to be ready when opportunity appears. It won’t wait for you to build new skills or find new resources. Working with a coach will keep you ready when you need to be, and ensure you always have personal and professional development on hand when you need it. A good executive coach will help you transition into something new when you need to.
Prepare you to be the public face.
As CEO, you are the person who publicly represents the organisation. You are the person who will speak at events or face the media when there is a crisis or newsworthy event. You are the one every person in your company looks to for ultimate leadership. You are on display and that’s something I’ve found most CEOs didn’t bargain for. An executive coach will work with you to develop and polish your presence, so you always present as the person you need to be.
Keep confidences and give impartial feedback.
Who can you talk with openly and honestly as CEO? The people around you have their own interests to cater for and many will be in line for your job if you leave. Who is going to be brave enough to tell you when you’re wrong or not doing well enough? Who can you trust to listen to you without sharing it with others? Tim Cook the CEO of Apple is someone at the top who commented how lonely it was when he took over from Steve Jobs, and he’s right. It’s isolating. But you never need to feel alone if you have an executive coach. They can listen without self-interest, comment without risk, and give you feedback even if you don’t like it. In other words, they tell you what you need to hear – not what you want to hear.
There are many other reasons CEOs and aspiring executives need an executive coach. What reasons can you think of?