What CEOs, Business Owners and Senior Management really want from Business mentoring or coaching

26th Feb , 2016

Business surveys by International Business Mentors over the past three years have found that half to three quarters of Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers get no outside support on their leadership skills development, but most are more than receptive to help from a business mentor or coach for business coaching programs, if given the opportunity.

Significant areas discussed in the surveys were:

Why is an independent Business Mentor or Coach so important?

Blind spots are not obvious when things are going well. It is very easy for Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers to focus inward, especially when business is good, but blind spots become very dangerous when business performance drops.

A good, independent Business Mentor can help with a clearer independent reality check for Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers.

A confidential Business Mentor can create an environment to think through various issues in the Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Manager’s best interest. The Business Mentor is only concerned with the Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Manager’s improved performance in leading the business.

Conflict resolution is an important issue?

Conflict management is critical in the Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers role — just about anything that gets to their desks has an element of plus for someone and negative for someone else. If the conflict remains unresolved, it can gridlock the whole business: decisions do not get made and problems intensify and unproductive behaviors increase.

A Business Owner, CEO or Senior Manager who can better manage and channel conflict constructively can fix more underlying problems, and a Business Mentor can help them think more rigorously which ultimately helps drive better outcomes.

Why do so many Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers not receive Business Mentoring or Coaching?

Some still think that Business Mentoring or Coaching is somehow a sign of failure rather than a process that enhances better performance, similar to how elite athletes uses coaches. Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers should be confident about this, and see business mentoring or coaching as a tool for enhancing their performance.

Tension between boards and executive teams is reduced with Business Mentoring or Coaching.

When business is good, Boards often feel they don’t need to have difficult conversations with their CEO or senior management. The use of Business Mentors or Coaches can develop an open-minded approach to making improvements in good as well as bad times, which improves the likelihood that the Board will be less surprised by changes in the business fortune and discuss the needed changes.

Most Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers said it was soley their idea to receive coaching. Is it only their responsibility, or should it involve others?

Fundamentally, it is a responsibility of Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers and the Board of directors, if improvements are needed, to seek the benefits from engaging a confidential Business Mentor or Coach.

We may all recognize our strengths and weaknesses but there are critical times when the Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers will benefit from the fresh eyes of the Business Mentor or Coach.

Performance evaluation may be the start point for bringing a Business Mentor or Coach on board: Start with what needs to be improved. This will give practical specific areas to work on with the Business Mentor or Coach.

Are the areas that Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers want to be coached the right ones?

This is a question for each organisation and the areas to focus on must be consistent with organization’s priorities. For example, over a quarter of Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers surveyed were working on their team-building skills, but less than 15% of Directors believed that this was an area that needed improvement.

Resistance was noted to being mentored on “soft skills” like motivation, compassion, and persuasion, despite their importance.

“Soft skills” are an important part of the Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers’ toolkits. Being able to motivate and develop people allows a Business Owner, CEO, or Senior Manager to build a mature supportive leadership group at the top of their business. This improves how the senior team members work together and individually. Furthermore, the Business Owner, CEO and Senior Managers can better motivate, inspire, and lead those around them with the input from their own Business Mentor or Coach.

Should Business Mentoring be kept confidential in the organisation?

Business Mentoring or Coaching is essentially a private and personal activity. The fact that a Business Owner, CEO and Senior Manager is being coached is not something that would normally be disclosed to the rest of the people in the business.

Is there a relationship between Coaching and business success?

Large companies have used business mentors or coaches such as Dell, Google, etc., where coaches/advisors have been brought in to help young CEOs. For example people such as Jack Welch, a prominent top-business leader who worked with his business mentor Ram Charan for many years.

In general, there is a link between the mentoring and success where the Business Owner, CEO or Senior Manager embraces that success can be enhanced with their continuous learning and development. These motivated leaders seek out appropriately matched experienced Business Mentors or Coaches who help them frame topics, actively challenge and help them critically reflect on themselves and the business.

Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers who do this also benefit from information and knowledge from new perspectives and sources, which all helps develop their decision-making and own leadership and management capability.

How should Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers find the right independent Business Mentors or Coach?

Successful Business Mentors or Coaches need to be very experienced in and intuitive about business, have well developed and disciplined approaches to decision-making and understand interpersonal dynamics. They must be neutral in the relationship with no other agenda (e.g. wining consultancy work from the client), and must be able to tailor their approach to the individual’s needs and goals.

A good Business Mentor or Coach does not make you feel badly about yourself, but will engage you the Business Owner, CEO or Senior Manager to get up the next day excited about the business with improved clarity of vision, trying something new or taking a different approach.

What are the main take-aways from the International Business Mentoring or Coaching surveys?

The low percentage of Business Owners, CEOs and Senior Managers who have business mentors or coaches is significant. The key takeaway for them is that seeking out a business mentor or coach is not a sign of a weakness, but instead a key tool in improving leadership and senior talent in the organization. And mentoring can help long term make the difference between a good organization and a visionary one:

A visionary organisation is one that is supporting its wider continuous business improvement by also focusing on supporting and developing its leaders by providing them with appropriate independent and confidential business mentors or coaches.

David Cartney, PhD

International Business Mentors

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