C-Suite Advisory

Living and Working the CEO Life

When it comes to coaching chief executive officers, there are four distinct focus area that I work on to improve their leadership, development, and ultimately, lives. OK, it is not as simple as that because every program we design is customized to the individual and the stage of their careers in which they find themselves. For instance, they could be a brand-new CEO or a very experienced CEO. Sometimes the focus becomes quite tactical, perhaps just survival, learning and so on. We work with clients in all stages of their careers and as they get into their stride, I find that there’s at least four things that are important for me as a coach to make sure the client keeps an eye on.

Wellbeing

This really has two parts to it. The first part is the personal wellbeing of the individual. Ensuring that in this very high stress job they take time to take care of themselves. We encourage clients to include exercise as part of a select, and small list of rules or principles that they are going to abide by to ensure they stay healthy. This typically means adopting a regular exercise routine that is recorded in their calendars because like myself, if it’s on my calendar, I’m more likely going to do it.

Wellbeing goes beyond just the physical, it’s your mental health and wellbeing too. Even though some of my clients feel that doing something like meditation is not for them, I encourage them to try it for 10 days in a row and see if they feel different. In almost every case, they come back to me and say, “Yeah, that really helps.” Devoting 10 minutes a day just to meditate and think about the intention for the day is very helpful and calming. There are other ways and resources to help clients be mindful, such as downloading any number of apps to your devices to assist with this effort. I also point to the benefits of having a good therapist. You might only have to meet with that person four times a year, but it is always good to have someone you can talk to that’s outside the organization that has the psychology background.

CEO Stuff

What does that mean? It means ensuring that your direct reports all understand what their roles are and are being held accountable for executing those roles. It is so easy, especially if you’ve just been promoted into the CEO role, to continue doing things that you used to be doing because you’re comfortable with it. The problem is that is not the role of the CEO. For example, documents come to you that are going to a customer, to the board, etc. that you feel are inadequate, it is very often your first instinct to rewrite them yourself because it’s faster to get them right. The problem with that is that’s not CEO stuff and when you’re doing that kind of thing, there’s a lot of other important priorities that are being left undone. It’s not the daily work that perhaps you’ve been doing for many years. It’s stepping above that and looking at the organization from a 30,000 foot level where you can see the horizon, and making plans and thinking about where is the company going, and asking yourself, how are we going to get there.

Future You

What are some of the things that you could be doing to get ready for your next and your next, next? Depending on where you are in your career, that could be another CEO gig or it could be directorships and getting ready for your post corporate life. In any case, the most important thing you can do to help shore up future you is to work and expand your network, including outside of your industry, outside of your community, as well as inside. It’s critical that you Work with your coach to actually come up with that plan on how you’re going to expand your network in the future.

Resources

At this stage in your career, it is vital to assemble a team of trusted resources to help you navigate life and work. For instance, it’s important to have a very good financial planner you trust and you can talk to at least once a quarter. Have the therapist that I mentioned before, as well as a coach, someone that you can talk to about your personal development at the company and beyond. Other important relationships include your banker, a good lawyer, a good insurance broker, all these people are resources that can help you out of working on and worrying about the small stuff. Your executive assistant is also critical. That person needs to be someone who is a partner, as opposed to somebody that just does administrative work. Someone who will anticipate, be proactive and take things off your plate. This takes a special set of skills and experience, and it can often be an ex-businessperson who is just looking to make a change in her or his life.

There is a world of difference between coaching a CEO and everyone else in an organization because the job is so different. Since the work requires such a change in skillsets, the coach needs to be in tune to help the client make that transition by focusing in well-being, doing the right job activities, maintain and building a network and finally, having great resources around you . . . our own personal team of experts.


Written by Robert (Bob) Ryan, partner and executive advisor at Shields Meneley Partners.
Have you read?
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Robert J. (Bob) Ryan
Robert J. (Bob) Ryan, Partner, Executive Coach and Advisor at Shields Meneley Partners. Executive Transition & Development Coach - C-Level Transition and Senior Leader Development. Shields Meneley Partners is highly specialized firm that advises and coaches senior executives and board members to advance their work and careers. Bob is a Managing Partner of The Sierra Institute, an invitation-only group of up to 50 CHROs from across the USA who meet regularly and work to develop the function, community and themselves. Robert J. Ryan is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on LinkedIn.