Working with hundreds of CEOs and Co-founders around the globe over the years leads me to believe that many CEOs do not come up with the idea to work with a coach but instead, become influenced by another person to think about working with a business coach.
Most never think about hiring a coach. And no, it's not just a peer that may influence them. They have to be exposed to the idea that coaching is not a reflection on their deficiencies, but another opportunity to excel. Persuasion occurs with three factors in play: 1) personal benefit, 2) dramatic difference, and 3) reason to believe.
Just like advertising for anything else, an executive needs to see the personal benefit of coaching, understand how it can enable them in ways almost nothing else can, and believe that they're not exempt from the benefits.
Fortunately there are accepted examples of both individual and peer group CEO coaching that are accepted as valuable parts of career success. Companies like Vistage have already broken through that initial stigma-type barrier of asking for help.
It's not really only a peer that makes someone decide to try a coaching solution. They have to be persuaded either by advertising or some other method (like recommendation) that whatever is the obstacle they're facing is capable of being addressed with the coaching solution.
When they want to put together their kid's basketball team. I don't know successful CEO's who use coaches. They build teams...hire advisors who bring something to the table. If I need a coach as a CEO, Im going to save everyone trouble and step down. The CEO should be the "Coach." I understand there are successful CEO's who use them. I just have always equated them to overpaid underperforming consultants who pretend to know more than they actually have experience to back up. I want permanent players on my team. Board of advisors..great...collaborative partners...sure. I realize that is my subjective opinion...Im just not a fan of the connotation of the term, let alone the proposed role in business.
Part of the challenge you will have with some, not all, but some is in your use of the word “coach” and “expert”. I have never met a successful CEO who believed in self-proclaimed “experts.” In fact most, like me, run the other way when anyone puts that in his or her title. My belief is there are no experts, only those with a continually growing and expanding skill set and experience level. Business and life is just evolving at too fast of a pace. I was introduced yesterday to a lawyer, and the word “expert” was used to describe my knowledge on a certain subject matter. And I of course took it as a compliment and understood the well-meaning intention, but I quickly responded, “I/m no expert. I just put a lot of time in researching, learning, and knowing what I/m doing regarding this deal.” I don’t like the term, because if conveys an unrealistic description of complete and absolute knowledge, capability, and competence. And even the greatest always have that nth degree to grow.
I actually discussed this blog while walking through nature with a close friend and CEO who took an organization from $400M in assets to $20B and has maintained a higher rating at Moodys and S&P than the US Government. As usual, we were distracted by nature for about 10 minutes before business became the center of discussion. His response was the same as mine "The CEO is the coach, and he better be a great one." So take it for what its worth. If someone came to me with a solution for a problem, I would gladly hire them as a "strategist" or an "advisor." Highly unlikely I’m putting a "coach" in the budget and if I told someone I was hiring a “whisperer” they would laugh me out of the room or quote the horse whisperer to me. Presentation and connotation are very important. The optics of “coach” and “expert” and “whisperer”…maybe that sells books…maybe it gets bookings at cattle call name tag cheap steak and a lecture hug hug handshake entrepreneurship support groups….may float with a lot of people out there. The no nonsense guys like me…not a chance in hades. My subjection opinion based on my experiences. If it works with others…then go with that reality.