CEO Coaching: Relationships

I only coach senior executives, mostly CEOs, so you might expect that our time together is spent talking about strategy, growth tactics, increasing profitability, operational challenges, organizational structure, and financial data. And you’d be partially correct. However, the bulk of our time together is spent talking about relationships. 

Improving relationships, acquiring relationships, and kindly eliminating relationships make up the largest portion of the conversations I have.

The most talented CEOs that I work with are very adept at relationships with their board or investors, with their senior leadership team, their front-line workers, and customers. They also get great financial results. 

The executives that struggle the most and have trouble achieving objectives are not skilled at relationships. Though they are most always very intelligent, they often have lower emotional intelligence. They don’t communicate very effectively. They have low empathy. They have a hard time giving praise when due and they deliver constructive criticism in a way that does deflates rather than inspires. They are always looking for a technical or procedural answer to problems rather than at relationships.

When I observe my best clients in action, I see empathy, active listening, succinct and strong messaging (written and verbal), an ability for big and small talk, warmth, and consideration. All hallmarks of developing healthy relationships. (They also have toughness, strategic thinking capability and resilience.)

If I had one suggestion for anyone who wants to have a successful career in leadership or become a CEO, I would tell them to learn to develop great relationships. The rest will come.

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