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.
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.
If you took a business or economics course in the past quarter-century, you were probably taught that the sole purpose of a corporation is to return cash to its shareholders. This widely accepted and seldom challenged idea is a dangerous innovation from the 1960s that radically departs from the centuries-long social contract under which corporations were invented, created, and proliferated. This relatively recent change is responsible for many harmful corporate decisions and disastrous government policies. It is well past time voters and shareholders got our corporations back on their more beneficial and benevolent track.
I could lay out all the historical details and legal arguments here, but I’ve already made the case in a much more accessible and entertaining form. Chapter eight of my first novel, Crimes of Cunning, covers it thoroughly. To help inform the public, I am making that chapter available for free, right here.
Click here to download the .pdf of Chapter 8,
An Indefensible Position.
No registration, no obligation.
Just read, understand, and take action.
I love this interview with professional athlete and philosophy professor Nick Riggle.
The high five is actually a recognition of the achievement of mutual appreciation. It’s a symbol of, “Hey, I recognize you as an individual, and you recognize me.”
Awesomeness is about creating communities of mutually appreciative individuals … It’s not a community where we all have to share the same values, or we all have to be Christian, or we all have to support a certain political candidate. It’s a more forgiving and appreciative community…. [it] allows us to stand out but stand together.
The badass just owns shit, right? What they choose to do with their life, they do it with expertise and confidence. … tackling what you set out to do with your life, and doing it with confidence and a kind of presentational verve.
The other category [of non-starter] is the fake-ass person. They’re someone who seems to take up the social opening, seems to be presenting their individuality… But in fact, they’re faking it. They’re not actually presenting who they are. This relation of mutual appreciation, what I call co-personhood, can’t be formed, because they’re presenting a fake persona.
–Prof. Nick Riggle, USD
On Being Awesome: A Unified Theory of How Not to Suck
- 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
Crimes of Cunning exposes the roots of the worst practices common in today’s big company cultures. Enjoy the ride as his characters cope, complain, and —ultimately— grow.
– Robbe Richman
Co-founder of Zappos Insights
& author of Culture Blueprint
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.
Does your job trigger primitive survival instincts? My book presents alternatives.
Those best equipped to compete mercilessly for food, ward off any threat, dominate territory, and seek safety naturally passed along their genes, so these self-centered impulses could only intensify. But sometime after mammals appeared, they evolved what neuroscientists call the limbic system, perhaps about 120 million years ago. Formed over the core brain derived from the reptiles, the limbic system motivated all sorts of new behaviors, including the protection and nurture of young as well as the formation of alliances with other individuals that were invaluable in the struggle to survive. And so, for the first time, sentient beings possessed the capacity to cherish and care for creatures other than themselves.
Although these limbic emotions would never be as strong as the ‘me first’ drives still issuing from our reptilian core, we humans have evolved a substantial hard-wiring for empathy for other creatures, and especially for our fellow humans.
Fields of Blood and the History of Violence
Knopf, 2014 page 7
Why do good people in big companies do bad things? Read the dramatic story in my new novel, Crimes of Cunning: A comedy of personal and political transformation in the deteriorating American workplace.
See also, on this blog, Lessons from Inside MCI: Integrity Ebbs by Inches