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It’s tough at the top – Executive Coaching survey

More than 200 CEOs, board directors, and senior executives of North American public and private companies were polled in an Executive Coaching Survey that Stanford University and The Miles Group conducted last spring. The research studied what kind of leadership advice CEOs and their top executives are – and aren’t – receiving, and the skills that are being targeted for improvement.
Key findings from the survey included:
Shortage of advice at the top – Nearly 66% CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches, while 100% stated that they are receptive to making changes based on feedback. Nearly 80% directors said that their CEO is receptive to coaching.
CEOs are the ones looking to be coached – When asked “Whose decision was it for you to receive coaching?” 78% CEOs said it was their own idea. 21% said that coaching was the board chairman’s idea.
How to handle conflict ranks as highest area of concern for CEOs – 43% CEOs rated “conflict management” as an issue. “How to manage effectively through conflict is clearly one of the top priorities for CEOs, as they are juggling multiple constituencies every day,” stated Mr. Miles of the Miles Group.  ‘Stakeholder overload’ is a real burden for today’s CEO, who must deftly learn how to negotiate often conflicting agendas.”

Boards eager for CEOs to improve talent development – The top two areas
board directors say their CEOs need to work on are “mentoring skills/developing internal talent” and “sharing leadership/delegation skills.” “The high ranking of these areas among board respondents shows a real recognition of the importance of the talent bench,” reported Professor Larcker of Stanford University.

Top areas that CEOs use coaching to improve: sharing leadership/delegation, conflict management, team building, and   mentoring. Bottom of the list: motivational skills, compassion/empathy, and persuasion skills. “A lot of people steer away from coaching some of the less tangible skills because they are uncomfortable with touching on these areas or really don’t have the capability to do it,” said Mr. Miles. “These skills are more nuanced and actually more difficult to coach because many people are more sensitive about these areas. However, when combined with the ‘harder’ skills, improving a CEO’s ability to motivate and inspire can really make a difference in his or her overall effectiveness.”