New York and Stanford, Calif. — July 31
“It’s lonely at the top” appears to be truer than ever, according to a new study conducted by the Center for Leadership Development and Research at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance and The Miles Group. 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, the survey reveals.
“What’s interesting is that nearly 100 percent of CEOs in the survey responded that they actually enjoy the process of receiving coaching and leadership advice, so there is real opportunity for companies to fill in that gap,” said David F. Larcker, who led the research team and is a professor of accounting and director of the Center for Leadership Development and Research at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
“Given how vitally important it is for the CEO to be getting the best possible counsel, independent of their board, in order to maintain the health of the corporation, it’s concerning that so many of them are ‘going it alone,'” said Stephen Miles, CEO of The Miles Group. “Even the best-of-the-best CEOs have their blind spots and can dramatically improve their performance with an outside perspective weighing in.”
More than 200 CEOs, board directors and senior executives of North American public and private companies were polled in the 2013 Executive Coaching Survey that Stanford University and The Miles Group conducted this spring. The research studied what kind of leadership advice CEOs and their top executives are — and aren’t — receiving, and the skills that are being targeted for improvement.
Key findings include:
Shortage of advice at the top: Nearly 66 percent of CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches, while 100 percent of them stated that they are receptive to making changes based on feedback. Nearly 80 percent of directors said that their CEO is receptive to coaching.
CEOs are the ones looking to be coached: When asked “Whose decision was it for you to receive coaching?” 78 percent of CEOs said it was their own idea. Twenty-one percent said that coaching was the board chairman’s idea.
Coaching “progress” is largely kept private: More than 60 percent of CEOs responded that the progress they are making in their coaching sessions is kept between themselves and their coach; only a third said that this information is shared with the board of directors.
How to handle conflict ranks as highest area of concern for CEOs: When asked which is the biggest area for their own personal development, nearly 43 percent of CEOs rated “conflict management skills” the highest.
Boards are eager for CEOs to improve talent development: The top two areas board directors say their CEOs need to work on are mentoring skills/developing internal talent and sharing leadership/delegation skills.
Areas for improvement: Top areas that CEOs use coaching to improve are sharing leadership/delegation, conflict management, team building and mentoring. At the bottom of the list are motivational skills, compassion/empathy and persuasion skills.
Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business; The Miles Group