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.