Founders of start up’s are changing the world with their ideas, enthusiasm and passion. Unlike leaders who rise to CEO positions by working their way up from within companies, founders find themselves in CEO positions without necessarily having had all the traditional experiences and opportunities along the way to the CEO position. These ‘founder CEO’s’ are learning about their products, their markets and themselves at breakneck speeds as their companies take off and grow. Incorporating executive coaching as a business tool right from the beginning of a venture can be the one investment that makes a difference to how you lead and develop the skills you need for your success.
Why every CEO can benefit from coaching
Entrepreneurs have the toughest job of keeping up a persona that will sell from pitching ideas to VCs, to business plans and product concepts. Entrepreneurs need to be on top of their game in addition to creating the right first impression and a favourable first connection. Once an entrepreneur launches his brand, the company is set up, the character, personality and style of a founder / CEO will gradually establish the tone for the entire workplace culture. An executive coach can help a founder / CEO in the following ways:
1. A coach can be the external sounding board needed to create a safe space to discuss struggles and help refocus on the ‘bigger picture’ when bogged down by the distraction, fears and the sheer volume of tasks that need to be addressed.
2. A good coach will be an active listener, able to help the individual decide what they want and need to do by asking questions. They will be able to highlight thinking patterns. Skilled Coaches will not tell individuals what to do; instead, they take on the passion of the project and work from there to support the individual – without any bias.
3. During the early days of a start-up; there are multiple decisions to make, problems to solve and direction to be set. Knee jerk reactions and decisions can have long term and far reaching impact on the success of the venture. An executive coach helps by allowing the founder CEO to identify decisions which may have adverse effects along the life line of the business.
How to focus your coaching
A good executive coach can help a CEO or founder see the impact of their behaviour, and this can make a huge difference in the business and its performance in the industry.
Before initiating the executive coaching, it is essential to establish the objective and expectations. Recruit a coach who the CEO can respect as a mentor. Chemistry meetings will ensure the coach is a good fit. The coach needs to provide an objective and unbiased perspective on the decisions the CEO makes. Advice on his interactions with others and mutual respect is imperative for the coach – coachee relationship to be fruitful.
The CEO will allocate time to debrief specific actions, presentations and conversations with the executive coach. Debriefs are often neglected or cut short in startups because there is so much happening at a fast pace. Having an executive coach forces the CEO to step back and reflect on questions that will help them learn from past successes – as well as the mistakes.
The best executive coaching techniques will help keep the CEO right on track during all the tasks, trials and tribulations of a start-up. The CEO is required to be open-minded and be willing to make sincere efforts to change those behavioural traits that may be hindering the growth of the company.
As part of an executive coaching program tool, such as 360-degree feedback can be invaluable to a CEO and new start-up. Through this, confidential feedback is gathered from managerial peers, partners, investors and importantly staff which report to the CEO. This unambiguous and productive feedback will highlight strengths and areas for improvement that the coach can pick up on to assist the CEO in developing and employing strategies to overcome.
An executive coach can be the sounding board and support start-up CEOs employ to help them chart their course, deal with setbacks and make strategic decisions. At LHH Gulf we work with experienced Executive Coaches whose passion is to support and assist leaders at all levels. Feel free to contact us at email@example.com to see how we can partner with you.