Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to.
Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col. Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!
This scene from A Few Good Men staring the iconic Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson represents why you need an executive coach to effectively run your business. As a leader, we’ve seen time and again a search for answers. A search that often times comes about when problems arise, or a change is needed. Unfortunately, the truth is often times difficult to find. It’s not that truth is elusive; it’s just that no one on your leadership team wants to tell you!
We recently conducted a poll of the executive coaches within our network on the topic of telling the truth. Roughly two-thirds of the coaches responding reported that their leadership engagements involved being a trusted advisor able to provide much needed objectivity to the C-Suite.
Trust is the primary reason that executives approach an executive coach. Think of it as acting as a sounding board. Leaders typically are under the false impression that there already exist sounding boards within the organization that they run and lead. However, it’s this falsity that brings on strong negative reactions from leaders.
The common perception that friends and sounding boards exist can easily be debunked when you consider that as a leader, you have the power and authority to hire, reward, and fire.
May CEOs that we work with would agree with the statement; “It’s lonely at the top.” While the view can be fantastic (think executive pay packages and perks), they also know that having the ability to open/close facilities, make difficult succession decisions, and deciding which business pursuits to attempt has tremendous impact on the lives of others.
With such territory, comes much stress… Enter the executive coach. The role of the executive coach is to enable the leader to make their best decisions, get their best results, and become the best leader possible (No short order). In order to do so, the executive coach delivers the truth that the leader is missing; The truth about what is happening currently. The truth about what impact their future vision will have. The truth about what the executive doesn’t want to hear, but must hear in order to move forward successfully.
You CAN handle the truth (You just don’t like it!)
As the leader of the organization, you must enable yourself to receive the truth. That is not easy. No leader likes to receive push-back, especially when we are working so hard to advance the organization in the right direction. But it is exactly this message, that of truth, that needs to be heard.
We worked with one leader that used to make all of the decisions himself all the time. He had no sounding board to bounce ideas off of, nor would he accept one. This worked well, until the economy turned and the water table surrounding him/his business lowered revealing the many tree stumps and boulders. It would take careful navigation moving forward to not only keep his company afloat, but his role as the CEO. He came to us with the goal of getting the proper direction, one that he knew could not be attained from his staff. In the end, we provided the proper navigation and through his strategic execution moved the organization forward successfully with him at the helm.
Will you/your organization have such a happy ending?
What’s the Point: Leaders need objective/unbiased perspective in order to successfully lead. Perspective provided by executive coaching leads to better decisions, better results, and better leadership.