Conflict Management tops the list of what CEOs wish to become better at, according to a recent Stanford University survey. All the skills that top the priority list are “active skills”, where success and failure can be easily measured. The behavioral attitudes that support these skills are however not equally obvious to explore and develop. This is where a professional executive coach can make the biggest difference, providing unbiased feedback that helps reflect on attitudes and make positive changes when necessary.

The recently released survey conducted by Stanford University/The Miles Group among 200 CEOs, board directors and other senior executives about how they receive and view leadership advice reveals interesting trends. First of all, although only one third of the interviewed CEOs regularly use an external professional coach, close to 100% claim that they truly enjoy receiving professional feedback and coaching support in leadership development. This indicates that the role of professional executive coaches as transformation agents, trainers and enablers (rather than as remedy for bad performance), is gradually being understood.

Further, the CEOs themselves are interested in their own development (fair enough, how can we expect to develop businesses by remaining static ourselves? personal development goes side by side with effectiveness in the job and also at the top continuous improvement is a must, not only – or at least as well as – a pleasure and a reward). The CEOs who do use a coach have chosen to do so themselves, by personal initiative; less frequently are they asked by their board.

When asked what skills they feel they most wish to develop or are currently working on developing, Conflict Management gets the most “votes”: 43% of the CEOs think that this area needs development and almost one third are already working on it with an external coach. They are even more interested in this skill than the directors and board members. Undoubtedly, most issues that reach the CEO desk and need a decision carry an element of controversy that others could not address and that the CEO is called upon to resolve. With the diversity and complexity of modern business, such issues multiply and CEOs are clearly interested in effective ways to handle the overload of such conflicts.

Further, all seven skills that make the top of the priority scale are “active” skills also called “hard skills”: visible competences where progress and failure can be measured. This is a very important message, since coaching deals with the “hard to measure” attitudes and behaviors that can determine success in acquiring and sustaining those competences that can be measured. Professional coaches must take this into account and ensure that a proper plan and process are in place and that measures are also established, possibly in the form of qualified peer feedback in addition to actual cases that positively impact the business, in order to verify the effectiveness of the coaching and reward the client with the verification of strong Return on Investment.

Last but not least, more directors consider “developing talent” to be a top development area for CEOs compared to any other skills. This also reflects an shift in expectations towards the CEO, no longer seen as just an authoritative guide, but increasingly more an enabler that via building the proper human assets can guarantee a sustainable continuation of the business.

How can Grooa help?

Executive Coaching with measurable results
Thought Partnership on Controversies and critical strategic processes
Leading Positive Change from Conflicts Workshops and Master Program: a revolutionary neuroscience based approach towards resolving conflicts by transforming them in opportunities to create and lead positive change

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