John Ainley: enabling leaders to be the best that they can be

How coaching can help new CEOs develop the skills to be “fully CEO ready”.

There are two common misconceptions that stand in the way of a new CEO’s development. Firstly, most CEOs believe that the skills that got them the job will be the only ones they need in the job. This is not the case, and they will need to develop new skills. Secondly, there is such high expectation that that they often act in haste in order to appear decisive before finding out what is really going on in their organisation.

CEOs need to think of the organisation as a whole, as a system, and about what it needs in order to achieve its potential. They must behave as they want others in the organisation to behave. Acquiring these skills takes reflection, discussion and learning.

Working with a coach

Working with an experienced coach is an important part of that learning. It’s important that potential CEOs have a coach well before they actually become one, and that they use that coach – someone who is experienced in working with other CEOs – to help them develop their skills, ambition and their role, in order that they can be CEO-ready on day one.

A new CEO must consider where she or he wants the organisation to be in the future, where it is now and how to make the transition. Listening to people across and outside their business is critical. Top sportspeople don’t work without a coach, so it is important for a CEO to hire a coach who has worked in a boardroom for many years and will challenge the CEO’s thinking. Finally, with all eyes on the new CEO, it is critical that they be the change they want to see in the world and their organisation.