By Chris Gandy
Google the words “executive coaching lonely at the top” and you will receive a blizzard of responses. It seems to me that almost every executive coach feels that it is obligatory to stress that they are there for the poor CEOs and executives who are ostracised by people above, below and side-ways and have no-one else to turn to but the coach! To emphasise the point brochures and websites typically carry images of person sitting on a cliff, mountaintop or deserted beach. Others feature a forlorn figure wandering down a country road. You know what I mean.
OK, I admit that I am being a bit harsh here to my colleagues in the coaching profession. And yes there are people who at times feel isolated within their organisational structure and a coach can offer constructive help in such circumstances. What I am railing against is that this over-emphasis is masking and diverting attention away from a real and more serious issue here – it’s actually crowded at the top!
The reality in the cause-based sector is that a multitude of people are constantly clambering for an Executive’s attention ranging from direct reports, the board, staff, clients, volunteers, funding bodies and community stakeholders. This situation is compounded by the increasing need to do more with less. The net result is that people in senior roles are usually unable to set aside sufficient time for calm, reflective time which is so necessary to productively problem solve and strategize.
This, to me, is where executive coaching can add real value. It provides executives with personalised “me” time to discuss and focus on very specific management problems. And builds in dedicated time to take a full stop away from the demands and stresses of the everyday office.
So next time you see an image like the one below – don’t feel sorry for the poor lonely person but rejoice that they have been given the opportunity to recharge their batteries and are able to devote some quality “thinking time” to the future of their organisation.
About the author: Chris Gandy MAPS is a Director of Cause and Effective (www.causeandeffective.info). Chris is a former CEO of cause-based organisations and is an Executive Coach.