Subject: Reflections on Leadership – How to Gain New Perspectives

The phrase, "It’s lonely at the top” has been uttered so many times that it’s become cliché – but for C-suite leaders, it’s more than that. It’s reality. As you ascend the career ladder, the number of people you can confide in dwindles. If you are an executive officer, one of the essentials for effective leadership is having someone you can turn to and say "I’m struggling…’ or, "I need to talk about this decision.” For example, as a CEO, you depend on your CFO for guidance on financial decisions; you turn to your CMO for answers on marketing initiatives and branding. But to whom do you turn when you are considering terminating a top-level executive; embarking on a major new program or investment or needing to validate the core competencies of your company? There aren’t a lot – if any – people within the organization that you can talk to about that.

According to a survey conducted by the Center for Leadership Development and Research at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance, and The Miles Group, about two-thirds of CEOs do not receive coaching, though nearly 100% were receptive to, or sincerely wanted that outside support and advice.

Coaches coach the person – not the issue - and that can be of tremendous benefit to CEOs. It means that you don’t have to disclose or discuss every detail about your business. You can outline your challenge, your coach can ask targeted questions, and you can work towards solutions. Your coach is your strategic discussion partner and sounding board.

Context can be incredibly important, which is why it is helpful to talk to someone who has been in your shoes. If a coach has been a CEO, it enables him or her to say, "I can imagine sitting in the boardroom and proposing this plan to your board. How do you think they’re going to react? What type of questions is the ‘most thoughtful’ of your board members going to ask?”

Having been a CEO or top executive enables them to ask questions that are very immediate, targeted, and which are likely to drive increased levels of accountability

It also ensures they understand the importance of confidentiality.

Experience and an ethical code of conduct are two essentials in any coaching/client relationship. Equally important is fit. In general, the more senior the client, the more critical fit it becomes. You need and want to be vulnerable without worrying a coach will betray your confidence or pass judgment on you.

You may also need to feel as though you’re talking to someone who ‘gets it’. Being a CEO or C-Level leader is a complex role that requires difficult decisions, exerts enormous pressure, and, of course, has a great deal of isolation. Typically, it helps when you know your coach has the experience and the wisdom to appreciate the challenges you are facing. If you don’t feel that, or if the fit is not right, it is difficult to be open with your coach.

Given how important it is for CEOs to get the best counsel, I think, it is troubling that so many of them are ‘going at it alone.’ Even the best-of-the-best CEOs have their ‘blind spots’ and can dramatically improve their performance with an outside perspective weighing in.

After meeting and working with Jeff Miller, I’m able to tell you with confidence; you don’t have to go it alone. Jeff has a proven traffic record of leading successful organizations, and now in his encore-career, he is coaching others in our industry to greater success. Whether you’re in need of someone to coach or to advise you, elevate executives on your team through coaching or someone to work on a specific issue, Jeff has the background, the experience and the talents to assist you. Attached you’ll find Jeff’s profile along with some slides of the type of work he takes on. I’ve also asked him for a sample of his one-page strategic roadmap, which I think helps illustrate the quality of the type of work he can deliver.

Whether you work with Jeff or another coach or business advisor, you don’t have to go it alone. Find the support you need to change the reality of isolation at the top and ultimate success at your bottom-line.

Sincerely yours,
Rob Dumont
President & CEO of TMTA