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Executive Coaching for Entrepreneur CEOs

12/28/2018 1 Comment

Executive Coaching for Entrepreneur CEOs

Executive Coaching for Entrepreneur CEOs

Recently, I’ve taken on several Executive Coaching clients who are entrepreneurs, having started their businesses from scratch. I’ve noticed that these clients seem to struggle with a unique challenge – their task load has them buried in details numerous levels below their job title.

For most of my career, I’ve coached CEOs and other senior executives for Fortune 1000 companies. I’ve spent hours working with them on SWOT analyses, talking through presentations for their Board of Directors, practicing techniques to strengthen their senior leaders’ sense of accountability, or adjusting how they deliver their messages to their staffs, among other topics. These topics are probably the same list that any MBA student would make, when asked to describe Executive Coaching.

However, recently, I’ve been working with entrepreneurial CEOs, who run companies worth $10-80m. And I’ve noticed one key similarity in what they want from their Coaching project – to help them begin to work on more strategic tasks. These CEOs often find themselves tackling such tasks as: billing issues when they have a billing department, handling customer complaints when they have a Director of Customer Relations, or doing their own recruiting when they have an HR person…and sometimes when they have an in-house recruiter!

The trend with these CEOs has been striking. And I boiled down the root cause of this behavior into three areas:

  • The “Servant-Leader” theory – We all have read the leadership articles describing the importance of being a servant-leader. Many successful CEOs have said that they subscribe to this philosophy. But, perhaps the problem lies in semantics. Being a “servant-leader” does mean working to get results by supporting your staff, but it does NOT mean ACTING like a “servant.” Some CEOs may feel that by making their own Xerox copies, they are showing their employees that “no task is beneath me.”
  • They can do it better and quicker. Entrepreneurial CEOs started their business from the ground up. So, not only have they had to do every task in the Company, they know how to do it well, and quickly. They have mopped up floors, written marketing proposals, and even landed the huge clients that propelled their business into the multi-million dollar range. In many cases, CEOs/Owners are the most talented people in the company, and they are the most talented at whatever they do. And so, in their mind, if that detailed billing report needs to be created, they know they can get it done well, and quickly, which serves both accuracy and speed.
  • They like being busy. Yes, believe it or not, many of the CEOs I work with, enjoy that rush that comes from “getting sh@t done”. They like the feeling of knocking off tasks. For example, a Marketing Strategy that they should be working on may take them three months to complete. However, fixing that prickly customer’s service issue may take them one-two hours, and that makes them FEEL great!

In our Coaching sessions, one of the techniques we use is we ask the CEO to maintain a list of their daily tasks, tracking these tasks over a few weeks. At that time, we help them to segment these tasks in a simple 2x2 grid, included below. We work on helping the CEO realize the critical importance of the CEO role. If a ship's Captain is down below working with the crew, who is reading the navigational charts? Who is checking for life-threatening obstacles? Just making the CEO aware of their role, as critical as any role in their Company, sometimes is the greatest result for that Coaching engagement.

Executive Coaching for Entrepreneur CEOs

If you’d like to talk with us about Executive Coaching, for all business sizes, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to talk with you about your specific areas to target.



Steven Smith

I like this idea.

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Jim Glantz is the Managing Partner of The Academy For Leadership And Training (TAFLAT). A 20+ year Executive of Organizational Development & Training, Jim holds a doctoral degree in Organizational Development and a Masters in Education from UCLA. Jim is an Associate Professor & the author of numerous articles.