CEO and Executive Coaching - The paradox of perceived desire vs. the real return on investment.

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A recent study by Stanford Business School questioned CEO’s about their desire and use of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development. The results showed that almost 100% said they would like coaching, however, over 60% admitted to not receiving any at all.

In many companies, this paradigm would appear to be most prevalent with CEOs who have risen through front office departments.

So why don't more CEOs get coached?

There would appear to be a major disconnect between what many CEO’s believe Executive Coaching and Leadership Development should offer compared to the reality of what they find to be of benefit once they have experienced it.

When surveyed, over half the CEO’s that experienced using Executive Coaches found that their expectation of the perceived value was widely adrift with the reality of where the return on investment actually arose. Many admitted their major desire was to find a mentor or teacher, whereas actually the majority of the realised value came in the form of having increased levels of self-awareness, personal introspective and empathy.

An article in the Harvard Business Review earlier this year found that “Becoming powerful makes you less empathetic”. Maybe to some that doesn’t sound too profound, indeed many may argue that as “leaders are there to lead”, naturally they have to spend more time considering their own thoughts; hence less empathy is a natural occurrence.

While there maybe arguments both ways, what is evident is that to find the right balance there needs to be a consistent level of self-awareness.

Sitting at the top of the corporate ladder can be a lonely experience if you don’t embrace or have the ability to embrace those around you. Being self-aware and embracing others is an essential strategy not just for success, but in managing the stress that “comes with the job”.

Perhaps this is why those CEO’s found that the empathy, compassion and self-awareness they achieved when working with a coach helped provide the confidence needed to empower others more effectively.

Jack Welch the former GE CEO and arguably one of the most successful business minds of the last century, perhaps said it best…

“Before you are a Leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a Leader, success is all about growing others”.

While many leaders are “Alpha” personalities it takes great strength of personality to truly discard personal vulnerabilities and in turn display the ability of empowering others fully.

Gone are the days of the “one-man superman”; corporate success needs the collaboration of a succinct and empowered management team. The likelihood is that the leader of that team already has much of the specific knowledge, skills and experience necessary to do their day to day role. The question really is how much more effective would they be if their emotional intelligence, self-awareness and personal development were supported in a confidential, analytical, yet encouraging manner.

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