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How To Be an Efficient and Effective CEO

PART II: The One-to-One: How to Coach Your Direct Reports

This is the second in a three-part series on how CEO’s can become more focused, efficient and effective in their role as CEO. Part one is The Six Essential Roles of the CEO.

In today’s business environment, one of the most important roles CEOs can embrace is that of coach, teacher and mentor.

One of the best tools CEOs can use to coach, is consistent, structured one-to-ones with their direct reports.

These are high-level conversations where you and your direct reports set aside quality time to address the long-term strategic issues facing the company and the developmental issues of your management team.

One-to-ones with direct reports allow you to:

  • Achieve better alignment in regards to the vision, mission, and goals of the company.
  • Gain a clearer picture of how your direct reports think and solve problems.
  • Provide quality time for coaching and mentoring, essential activities for building your management team.
  • Model the behavior you want your direct reports to use with their people.

Equally important, one-to-ones provide much-needed recognition for direct reports. Giving your time and undivided attention sends the message that you consider them valuable players on the team.

Coaching Skills

Effective coaching starts with some basic communication skills:

  • Empathy. Strive to see the world through the other person’s eyes. In reality, you can never see the world exactly as someone else does. However, making the attempt will dramatically change the interaction in a positive manner.
  • Respect. Be slow to understand, so that you can get at the real issue and show the other person the respect they deserve.
  • Exploration. Avoid easy, quick answers and stay in diagnostic mode. Ask plenty of open-ended questions.
  • Flexibility. Everyone has a natural style of communicating. Learn to go beyond your natural style and do what is needed in the situation.

It also helps to know your non-verbal style, including its strengths and limitations, so that you can become more flexible in your interpersonal interactions. Non-verbal communication plays a vital role in your ability to influence others.


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