CEO Coaching: A Guide To Finding Your Coach

The CEO coach is similar to the executive or leadership coach, but with the added responsibility of working with the person who is at the helm of the company – the person who can potentially make the most significant difference in the company’s success and the lives and careers of those who work for the company.

Coaching for promising executives has increased in popularity over the past 15 years. Despite the fact that some of these coaches are from the psychology field, the majority are former athletes, attorneys, business academics, and consultants. These individuals undoubtedly assist executives in many ways to increase their performance. But I want to tell a different story. Executive coaches who lack in-depth psychological training, in my opinion, frequently cause more harm than good. Due to their backgrounds and prejudices, they downplay or ignore underlying psychological issues that they don’t understand. Even more concerning, coaching can actually make a bad situation worse when an executive’s issues are the result of unrecognized or ignored psychological issues. When an executive experiences persistent or severe symptoms, in my opinion, addressing unconscious conflict is the most common way to find relief.

Consider Rob Bernstein. (Throughout this article, I use pseudonyms out of respect for people’s privacy. He worked for a distributor of automotive parts as executive vice president of sales. The CEO claimed that although Bernstein caused conflict within the organization, his client relationships were priceless. When Bernstein publicly humiliated a mailman who had interrupted a meeting to ask someone to sign for a package, things came to a head. Following that, the CEO gave Bernstein coaching from Tom Davis. For four years, Davis, a stylish former corporate attorney, collaborated with Bernstein. Davis, however, taught Bernstein methods for “managing the little people” in the most Machiavellian sense rather than investigating how the support staff had been mistreated by Bernstein. The issue was that, despite the coaching appearing to produce some impressive successes, Bernstein always encountered new challenges as soon as he overcame one.

Bernstein’s immediate boss left the company about six months after he and Davis finished their collaboration, and he was chosen to fill the position. True to his history, Bernstein was soon embroiled in controversy. This time, Bernstein was suspected of embezzlement rather than alienating subordinates. When confronted, he asked to work with his coach again. Fortunately for Bernstein, the CEO thought there was a bigger issue going on and instead of calling Davis, he came to me for assistance.

Working with Bernstein for only a few weeks, I became aware of his severe narcissistic personality disorder. His actions demonstrated a rogue sense of entitlement. Narcissists are frequently found at the top of organizational hierarchies; prior to their character flaws becoming their downfall, they can be extremely productive. Although narcissists are driven to succeed, their grandiose nature frequently causes them to disregard all of their accomplishments. In addition to demeaning those they view as inferior to them, narcissists also readily flout the laws they hold in such low regard.

No amount of executive coaching could have alleviated Bernstein’s disorder. Narcissists rarely alter their behavior unless they undergo extreme psychological suffering, which is typically a setback to their self-esteem. Bernstein’s situation was paradoxical in that working with his executive coach had only served to protect him from suffering and increase his sense of haughtiness, as evidenced by his belief that he was “so important that the boss paid for a special coach to help me.” Bernstein’s performance was further diminished by executive coaching, as is frequently the case when narcissists avoid the truth.

My reservations about executive coaching do not constitute a cry for counseling or psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis, in particular, does not—and never will—suit everybody. Also, it is not the responsibility of corporate leaders to make sure that everyone deals with their personal issues. As a psychologist with a doctorate who also works as an executive coach, my aim is to raise awareness of the distinction between an “executive with a problem” who can be helped by psychotherapy and a “problem executive” who can be trained to function effectively.

The issue is threefold. First off, a lot of executive coaches, especially those who are sports-inspired, market themselves as providers of easy solutions and quick outcomes. Second, even coaches who acknowledge that an executive’s issues may take time to resolve have a propensity to only use behavioral fixes. Finally, executive coaches who are untrained in the psychotherapy dynamics frequently abuse the strong hold they establish over their clients. Unfortunately, improper coaching often ignores or worsens psychological issues that can only be resolved through psychotherapy.

Executive Coaching Session – How Coaching Works

How does CEO coaching work?

CEO coaching demands a significant time commitment from the participant and the coach. The procedure begins when a CEO or prospective CEO asks a career coach for assistance. Typically, a person describes their goals and expectations for the outcome during the first session of the coaching relationship. During this first meeting, the CEO coach gathers as much information as possible. The client and coach then decide on a schedule for future meetings and activities.

In order to understand their clients, CEO coaches use behavioral and personality tests. Coaches employ a variety of learning exercises and, based on their findings, provide strategic recommendations. Additionally, CEO coaches frequently travel to the offices or workplaces of their clients to observe the CEO in action. The coaches gather data to assist their clients in developing individualized plans for growth and improvement.

What is CEO coaching?

CEO coaching is the process of assessing the CEO’s performance and providing support and recommendations for enhancement. A career coach with a focus on serving clients at the executive or chief level is known as a CEO coach. They are certified professional coaches who assist current and aspiring CEOs in recognizing issues and overcoming obstacles.

Benefits of CEO coaching

Here are four benefits of working with a CEO coach:

Getting honest feedback

CEOs frequently provide feedback to their staff in order to advance their careers. However, receiving feedback as a CEO is less common. Taking part in coaching sessions is a great way to get an objective assessment of your actions and behaviors. The role of a CEO coach is to evaluate the traits, behaviors, and beliefs of their clients and provide tools to strengthen or improve them. A coach must provide a thorough description of what they have seen in order to do this well.

Accessing tools for self-reflection

In addition to providing candid criticism, CEO coaches provide their clients with methods and resources for introspection. A variety of evaluations, questionnaires, theoretical problem-solving, practice scenarios, and personal reflections are all a part of the CEO coaching process. People are given the tools they need to truly see themselves in the workplace by taking part in these activities and sessions.

Developing stronger skills

Many of the scenarios and problem-solving activities that CEO coaches use can aid their clients in strengthening their skills, including:

Increasing motivation for success and growth

A person’s drive for success can often be rekindled by working with a CEO coach. People frequently feel empowered and more capable of growing in their careers when they have access to candid feedback and new strategies and techniques.

How to choose a CEO coach

1. Determine your level of time commitment

The majority of CEO coaching involves long sessions, and a successful strategy frequently calls for participants to complete exercises and tasks outside of their sessions as well. Additionally, coaches often schedule times to observe CEOs at work. It takes a lot of time to start down this path of improvement. It’s crucial to decide in advance whether you have enough time to devote yourself fully to the process before hiring a CEO coach.

2. Look for a certified coach

It’s important to seek out a licensed coach who specializes in working with executives or CEO-level clients when trying to hone your skills as a CEO. You can choose to contact a coaching company or conduct online research to find a private coach. Look for someone with a reputable certification when compiling a list of potential coaches: Here are four places to find certified CEO coaches:

3. Look for recommendations or reviews

Ask people in your professional network about any coaches they may have used when looking for a CEO coach. Inquire about their CEO coaching experiences, and spend some time reading online testimonials or recommendations. Your needs may not be dictated by someone else’s experience, but a coach with a lot of happy clients might be a good fit for you. Utilize the data you come across to help you select a smaller pool of potential coaches.

4. Interview potential coaches

Successful CEO coaching requires an honest and open coach-to-client relationship. The person you hire must be someone you can trust and work with. Before deciding on a coach, interview potential coaches. Here are seven queries to ask to determine whether a coach is a good fit for you:

Please note that Indeed is not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned in this article.


What do CEO coaches do?

A CEO coach provides other CEOs with the tools, framework, and support they need to build their own successful companies. My own objective is to assist women in starting and running profitable businesses while still giving them time for their personal lives. Many dedicated people have crossed my path in my work as a CEO coach.

Why do CEOs need coaching?

When it comes to overcoming challenges in their own roles, business functions, or even those faced by their teams, coaches are frequently the sounding board CEOs need. A coach has the power to broaden perspectives and enhance decision-making abilities.

How do I become a CEO coach?

Although there are technically no strict requirements, it is typically advised that you have at least 10 years of corporate experience before enrolling in a formal executive coach training program. It is envisioned that before beginning your coach training, you will have acquired some people management skills.

How much is a CEO coach?

Coaches typically bill between $150 and $650 per hour for their services. Those at the lower end may only have one to three years of experience, or they may focus on coaching younger leaders who want to advance into managerial positions or change careers or industries.

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