Stanford has collaborated with the Miles Group to release its 2013 Executive Coaching Survey. The findings are quite interesting. According to the Stanford website, the report indicates that, "Nearly two-thirds of CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches, and almost half of senior executives are not receiving any either." However, it seems that almost every CEO responded that they welcomed outside coaching and advice, and they thought it was worthwhile. Huh? So, you think having an external sounding board would be a good thing... what exactly is stopping you? Is the board prohibiting you from reaching out to get this outside advice and counsel? Can you not afford it? It seems that the CEOs are telling us what they think we want to hear, but when asked about actual practice at their firms, they reveal the truth - many of them are not reaching out to make sure that they receive the kind of feedback, advice, and external input that could be very helpful.
Now interestingly, most of the CEOs who do receive coaching made this happen on their own; they were not forced to do so by their boards. Thus, some CEOs do see the benefit, and they have reached out to find coaching that can help them.
In what areas did the CEOs indicate that they need the most help? Conflict management ranks very high for them. Since I do a ton of work in this area, I was quite pleased to see that executives value this competency. I would hope, though, that they recognize that sometimes the key challenge for CEOs is the lack of conflict in key decision-making processes; too often people do not raise dissenting voices in the presence of a powerful chief executive.
Finally, the survey responses indicated that boards of directors are very concerned about talent development practices within firms. They want their CEOs focused on developing future leaders, and putting good succession plans in place. That's good news, as we see too many companies left searching externally for a CEO when a sudden need emerges because they have not put a good talent development and executive succession process in place.