CEO Coaching: Grilling CEOs

No, I’m not referring to CEOs who barbeque steaks on a Friday night, but rather CEOs who get grilled. Like Bezos, Cook, Pichai and Zuckerberg by Congress.

I’m not a fan of most congressional hearings, because they’re usually more fluff than stuff — like a bunch of sexually charged teenagers looking for attention. Congress does, however, play an important role in accountability, and the recent grilling of these CEOs is perhaps a good example. 

Getting a colonoscopy in front of millions can’t be much fun. Some questions were annoying, but many focused on the companies’ bad behavior (real or yet to be determined). 

If you run a large organization — and the ones in question are enormous — you know that things happen in your company that you aren’t aware of and don’t appreciate. You also know that you’re accountable. Perhaps you created a culture that allowed or fostered the bad behavior. Perhaps you had a couple of bad apples. It’s still your problem. 

Chances are slim that you’ll have to testify before Congress. It’s worthwhile, however, to ponder the questions you might be asked. No one is perfect, but are you creating an atmosphere that fosters questionable behavior? If you were about to testify before Congress, what would you be nervous about? Perhaps you should change it now.

CEOs don’t get grilled often, particularly when they’re hitting their numbers. Boards are often too supportive and afraid of asking tough questions. When I was a CEO, I didn’t like getting grilled, but the few times that I did made me more prepared and a bit smarter. CEOs who seek people who will challenge them and prevent them from breathing their own exhaust are much more stable and better rehearsed for life’s curveballs. If you want a friend who always loves you, adopt a dog.

I have two new programs for CEOs, Emerge and Accelerate and Team Alignment designed to help talented leaders respond and recover from the current malaise. If you would like to discuss either one, click here to set up a time.

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  • Don Myers

    1:53 pm August 10, 2020

    Love it, especially “get a dog”