Are you a business owner thinking about whether coaching might improve the performance of your COO or another key executive? My answer is, “Yes,” in most cases, but only if the CEO is being coached. I’ve learned the hard way over the years that I can have a major, enduring impact with a COO or other direct report only when I am also coaching the CEO. I believe this is generally the case with true executive coaches.1
Any growth or development on the part of a subordinate that is not shared by the boss is likely to have two unwanted effects. First, the boss’s unchanged behavior will undermine and thwart the direct report’s new behavior. Second, the developing key executive will either abandon the changes or judge the boss to be the bigger problem and leave. As one blunt coach said to a prospect, “If I fix your VP without you moving in the same direction, you will become the problem.”
If your COO needs only “management training” there are plenty of less costly ways to get it. Start with the basic books, for example, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People, Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Manager, almost anything by Peter Drucker, starting with Management, and the classic by Bill Oncken Who’s Got the Monkey? (free download)
Stay away from inspiring stores of genius leaders such as Steve Jobs, Harold Geneen, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, etc. They are unique, lucky, and extraordinarily difficult to work with. They certainly were not copying anyone. Anyone attempting to copy them is likely to cause disasters both financial and personal.
These recommendations for management training, as with executive coaching, require the ultimate leader and influencer (you, the CEO/Owner) to learn and practice the same techniques.
1 I say true executive coaches because, these days, every consultant, trainer, and even many salespeople now call themselves coaches. That’s a topic for another post.
This is exactly why I do not use standardized assessment tools on my executive coaching clients:
…one of the main hindrances to coaching was understanding people as collections of fixed properties with desire attached.
…by using assessment models this way we are reinforcing our understanding of people as things, and this way of understanding makes any effective coaching impossible or nearly so.
…it assumes that the person is a thing which can be found out about, figured out, and predicted.
–James Flaherty of New Ventures West
Chapter Six of Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others (Third Edition)
Enjoy this free sample of my novel, Crimes of Cunning.
In Chapter 15, Who Has the Helm, the main character learns about the childish tactics that persist into adulthood and sometimes take control of our actions. His wife also shares the counterintuitive response that takes away their power over us.
Click here to download the free .pdf. No registration, no pitch, just a gift. Read it and reap.
In the late 1960s, an MIT student went to a meditation class by Philip Kapleau, author of the classic, The Three Pillars of Zen. The student only went because his Ph.D. advisor had invited the speaker to campus.
No word on whether Roshi Kapleau was discouraged to see only four listeners in the large lecture hall, the organizer, his student, and two others. We do know that he effectively delivered his message because that student became Jon Kabat-Zinn, the most influential promoter, teacher, and scientific researcher of meditation in the history of the West.
It is not a speaker’s job to judge the audience. We save the world one speech, sometimes one listener, at a time.
- Ignore more.
- Big picture first. Details later.
- Don’t just find a mentor. Allow yourself to be mentored.
- Be humble enough to listen.
- You don’t have to ship everything.
- Feel free to dabble & play.
Not everything you make needs to ship. Some things you do for you.
- Chaos is okay.
- Time is the soil in which great ideas grow.
- Stick with it & be willing to put it to the side now and then.
- Be mindful of with whom you spend time & at what activity.
- Money is a means not the end.
- Good to have. Bad to chase.
- Fancy is easy. Simple is hard.
- Simplification is an art form: it requires a knack for excising everything from a problem except what makes it interesting.
- The less marketing you need, the better your idea or product probably is.
- Don’t oversell to the doubts and indifferent; put your energy into making something you find interesting.
- Value freedom over status.
- Shannon, pursued projects that might have caused others embarrassment, engaged questions that seemed trivial or minor, then managed to wring the breakthroughs out of them.
- Don’t look for inspiration. Look for irritation. Then, do the work.
Source: 10,000 Hours With Claude Shannon: How A Genius Thinks, Works, and Lives
Also on this blog, Lessons from Bell Labs’ Heyday
I am pleased and flattered that my clients, Chris Haddon and Jason Balin, gave specific, detailed credit to me and some of my techniques in their new book, The Whiteboard: Go From Blank Canvas to a Productive, Leveraged and Highly-Profitable Business. Here is just one paragraph.
We sought out our executive coach, Tony, to show us the most strategic, effective way to design our success. A business coach will help you make the right moves at that right times consistently; it’s a precise recipe for getting ahead. Our decision to partner with an executive coach has been a very fruitful investment. By working with Tony, we were able to meet our ten-year business goal in three years. That’s the power of having an expert help you structure your decisions and career movements on a regular basis. Having a career coach isn’t a luxury; it’s smart business and smart living.
On Sale Now!
Crimes of Cunning
A comedy of personal and political transformation in the deteriorating American workplace.
Click here to see it on Amazon.com
Or, here for Barnes & Noble
Fast-paced, funny, and smart. This novel puts you into the world of a young MBA striving to succeed at a famous high-tech company. Brash and confident yet comically inept, Tony clashes with colleagues, clients, and even his biggest supporters.
He fires his most loyal employee, derails the career of his only friend, and nearly destroys his young marriage before transforming from chilly corporate collaborator to empathetic executive coach. Laugh and learn as his clients turn criminal, corporations collapse, and compassion triumphs.
It should be as much the aim of those who seek for social-betterment to rid the business world of crimes of cunning as to rid the entire body politic of crimes of violence.
–Theodore Roosevelt, 1901
A veteran executive coach draws on his years inside Arthur Andersen, Wall Street, and MCI to share a moving story that explains why your 401k shrank, your house is underwater, and your job stinks. The comedy and conflict illustrate management methods and personal practices that can improve your career and deepen your personal relationships.
Click here to read a free sample.
Click here to learn the source and meaning of the book’s title.
Podcast #16: Tony reads a short sample from his first book: The Courage to Be in Community. The complete audiobook is for sale on iTunes and Audible.
Just click here and either listen on your computer or subscribe through iTunes to have this and all new podcast episodes placed on your device as they become available. You may also set up an automatic “feed” to non-Apple devices by using this link: click here for other devices.