Coaching for Senior Executives Must Come Up From Subordinates
Classically successful senior executives have a lot of help from coaches and mentors to get them up the ladder. Most of the help, though, comes from superiors either within the organization or in similar disciplines outside. Or from peers working in similar roles elsewhere.
As executives rise, however, the number of potential coaches thins out. Fellow senior executives are as competitive as collaborative, and past coaches may have retired, gone off to a new challenge or simply bowed out of the role.
So where do high-level executives go to get really substantive feedback on their job performance (leadership style, goal-setting, etc.)? The best source frankly, is below them! (Notice I didn’t write “beneath them!”)
Unfortunately for many successful career executives, this is not second-nature. It is a shift in mindset to change their focus from “up” to “down” when seeking advice. This is probably one of the most consistent mindset changes we work on at Bovo-Tighe, so we know how critical it is, and how hard it is to do. The executive must:
- Admit he or she is not smarter than subordinates
- Be open to real criticism (banish the “yes man!”)
- Ask for that criticism regularly, as a standard day-to-day business practice.
In the best of all possible worlds, that executive would have started to adopt this mindset early in his or her supervisorial career, and found out that having a fully engaged team supporting his or her professional aspirations actually accelerates movement up the ladder!
What do you think? Are we on to something here? Take a moment to share a thought or two in the comment box.