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Coaching Should Start at the Top

September 22, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management — admin @ 6:56 am

A participant in an International Coaching forum I follow was recently looking for advice on a problem a colleague encountered.

It seems a coach in South Africa was asked to  coach various mid-level executives to sort out a contentious atmosphere that had developed after a recent merger. The CEO noted that he wanted specific detailed individual reports about each of the participants and when the coach declined, and offered to provide only a global overview, the contract was canceled.

Solutions suggested by forum members, included providing the global overview and letting individual manager provide the details they were comfortable revealing.

But in reality I don’t think the CEO had a full grasp of what coaching is or how it could benefit the company. The coach could have used some of the examples cited  as a way to bridge the gap – i.e.having the managers reveal their plans for change – but given the CEO’s attitude –  I think coaching in this environment had little chance of success.

The contentious atmosphere sounds like it may be a bi-product of the CEO’s management style. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to have the self awareness to realize where the problem is.

This is not a unique problem. CEO’s may be no different than any other employee. They fail to see reality and decline to accept any responsibility for a problem. It’s an aspect of emotional intelligence that takes considerable soul-searching to remedy.

It’s like the well known cartoon which starts with a boss berating an employee and ends with a child mistreating the family dog. It all starts at the top.

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