CEO Coaching Process

I was a CEO for 25 years. I’m going to make you more successful.

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Glenn Gow’s CEO Coaching Process

Many CEOs ask me about my coaching process. Below I will provide you with everything you need to know about the steps we will take together.

Headshot of Glenn Gow, the Peak Performance CEO Coach offering exceptional CEO Coaching Services to his clients

Step 0:

Here’s the Best Part of My CEO Coaching Process. You Don’t Have to Prepare!

Some of my CEOs like to prepare, but most like to “come in hot” from whatever is going on in the moment.

What’s amazing about NOT preparing is that the issue emerges in language. What you talk about and how you talk about it defines the issues that YOU need to address.

For example, one CEO mentioned three different vendors that were not performing up to expectations. This description showed a pattern. Once the pattern of poor performance emerged, I focused on the reasons for that non-performance.

As you might imagine, the main reason had to do with how the CEO was managing the vendors, not the vendors themselves. Once the CEO acknowledged they were the cause, we dove in to understand how they thought about managing others and exactly how they were managing others.

We discovered the flaw in the CEO’s thinking about goal-setting and expectations around anyone’s performance. I had to explain that no one else in the world thinks like the CEO. That the CEO needs to create clarity around goals, that they need to ensure the other party understands those goals and that the CEO will not tolerate poor performance.

Through the initial discussion of what was happening with the vendors, it emerged that the CEO had a management style that wasn’t optimal for all people. We discovered that style and changed it on the spot.

This emergence of the issue happens all the time. When the CEO makes a minor comment about someone or something, their language reveals how they think about the situation. I listen to discover the underlying issues that need to be addressed, which is usually behavior change by the CEO.

If you want to prepare, I’ll add the following steps.

STEP 2:

If You Don’t Have a Mission, Vision, and Values, We’ll Develop Them Together.

Your mission, vision, and values create the foundation of your management philosophy. Once this foundation is in place, you can start building on it. I share my mission, vision, and values to help my CEOs get started.

Mission: What is the Company’s Purpose?

For example, here’s my mission: I help CEOs become even better CEOs

Vision: What Will We Have Accomplished X Years from Now

For example, here’s my vision: I helped 500 CEOs achieve peak performance for their companies and for themselves.

Values: What are Our Core Principles that Define Our Actions When No One is Looking?

Here are my values:

  • Add value to every interaction
  • Share what I see, even if it’s uncomfortable to discuss
  • Help clients grow as a CEO and as a person
  • Nudge clients into learning beyond their comfort zone
  • Help clients discover what is important
  • Hold clients accountable for what is most important
  • Continually provide tools to get the most important things done

STEP 3:

Together, We’ll Develop Your Objectives for the Next 2 – 3 Years.

After we’ve done the foundational work above, it’s time to start narrowing our focus on what objectives we have in mind.

My favorite approach for this is OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), but I also work with many other approaches.

I will help you create 3 – 4 objectives for you and/or the company with a 2 – 3 year timeframe in mind. Interestingly, these objectives don’t have to be measurable. We’ll get to that later.

I’ll help you develop these to ensure you have the buy-in of your team as well.

STEP 4:

We’ll Define Your Key Results for the Next Quarter

We can call these rocks or goals or Key Results. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we get everyone focused on the most important things to focus on in the next 90 days.

A Key Result is something that will be owned by one person and one person only. That person will be responsible for achieving a measurable result by the end of the quarter.

That person doesn’t have to do the work; instead, they are responsible for ensuring the key result is achieved.

Usually, each member of the leadership team will have at least one Key Result, and no one will have more than three.

When you work to sign someone up for a Key Result, it should be a stretch to achieve but not impossible. They need to believe they have a chance of getting it done. They need to commit to the effort to make it happen.

STEP 5:

We’ll Review the Plans Provided by the Owners of Each Key Result

For each Key Result, you want the owner to develop a plan. It’s not enough for them to say they’ll get it done. They need to develop a plan with milestones that you approve. It’s not until you have that plan that you’ll have a sense of the likelihood of this Key Result getting done.

When we review the plans, certain things will emerge that we’ll highlight together. Some of your direct reports will have a clear understanding of how to achieve the Key Result. Others will struggle to develop a reasonable plan. That could be because they aren’t good at documenting their plan or because they actually don’t know how to get the job done.

We’ll determine what to do with each individual based on our assessment of their plans.

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Step 6:

We’ll Create the Tracking Process

As part of my theme of becoming a great delegator, your team will report to you how they are doing in every one-on-one.

The simplest way to do this is for you to own the one-on-one agenda and have the first item on the agenda be a quick reporting of their progress against their Key Results.

My favorite way to do this is for them to simply report red, yellow, or green for each Key Result. If you go this way, each of your direct reports needs to understand that the worst thing they could do is surprise you. They need to be very transparent about their progress.

You can usually ignore the greens and will focus on any reds or yellows.

STEP 7:

Work on the Most Important Issues

I guarantee that within three weeks into the quarter; you will start to see yellows and reds. When we start to see these, we’ll start to delve deeply into the causes of these issues. This is where massive positive change can occur.

Together, we will discover:

  • Who is even better than you thought they were
  • Who is encountering issues but understands what to do about them
  • Who is falling behind and is getting stuck

It’s the last category that usually represents your biggest management challenges.

STEP 8:

Drill Down on the Areas Where Things Are Not Getting Done to Your Satisfaction

Importantly, we will get to the root cause of why things are not getting done the way you’d like them to get done.

Spoiler alert: the root cause is always something that YOU did. For example, it could be that:

  • You put the wrong person in the role
  • You haven’t trained that person sufficiently
  • You let them bite off more than was reasonable
  • You have enabled excuses to win the day

Regardless of the root cause, we’ll find it and address it, so we eliminate the issue and replace it with a CEO best practice.

Let’s talk. Let’s do a working session together so you can get a feel for how this works. Worst case, you’ll get real work done within our hour together. Best case, you’ll want to do this kind of work every week. Schedule a chat with me at calendly.com/glenngow.

Sometimes the CEO will bring a strategic issue to the meeting for us to discuss. In that situation, we will go through an in-depth evaluation of the various options. We’ll talk about the pluses and minuses of each choice. We’ll talk about the short-term and the long-term implications. We’ll determine if we have enough information or if this requires more work. We will move forward toward a decision.

For example, one of my CEOs had a significant investment offer from an investor. The CEO didn’t need the money at the time and was concerned about dilution. It was right for the CEO to take their time.

We looked at the advantages and disadvantages of this investment from many perspectives. The answer wasn’t initially clear. I shared stories of how my other CEOs thought about similar opportunities and some of the insights into their decision criteria.

In the end, the CEO and I decided that taking the money was the right decision for the company. It turns out that we are both very happy we did this as the market entered a significant downturn shortly after the CEO closed on the financing.

“His advice helped me raise $3 million. Thank you for all your guidance and coaching … it really made a difference.”

– Darren Marble, co-CEO, Crush Capital.

Sometimes the CEO has ruminated about an issue for a while. It could be about making an acquisition. It could be about a challenging employee. It could be about a frustration they have. When it makes sense, I will tell the CEO what to do. Invariably, they know the answer, but they want my help to validate their decision. When the meeting is over, they execute against my recommendation.

Every CEO is unique. Most of the challenges they face are ones I’ve seen before. Together, in one hour, we can make amazing progress.

Let’s talk. Let’s do a working session together so you can get a feel for how this works. Worst case, you’ll get real work done within our hour together. Best case, you’ll want to do this kind of work every week. Schedule a chat with me at calendly.com/glenngow.

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