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What Is CEO Coaching About? Myths and Truths

Brian Cristiano Nov 10, 2021

How many times have you opened your YouTube or Instagram account to get hit with an ad for CEO or business coaching from someone you’ve never heard of before?

More specifically, someone sitting on a beach chair or in a big house telling you that they’re going to coach you to business success so that you can live like them!

If you’re like many people, then those ads circulate your social media on a daily basis!

We like to call those kinds of people the click-back coaches.  They tell you that they’ve got all the ‘secrets’ you need to get on their level, yet nobody really knows who they are or how they achieved their ‘success’.

Unfortunately, these click-bait coaches have in many ways become the face of CEO (executive) coaching!  

But, while they are the face of coaching, they don’t represent what an actual, high-level CEO coach is.

With that being said, we’re breaking down the myths and truths behind CEO coaching.  

Thanks to the myths propagated by click-baiters, most people don’t really know what CEO coaching is all about.  The worst part is that they don’t understand the value that it can add to a CEO’s life!

Therefore, we’re sharing what is myth and what is fact, so that you and other CEOs can make the right choice when it comes to choosing a coach to help you reach your goals.

Because, the truth is that CEO coaching can be the bridge between your current state and your best self.

Here is everything that’s fact and fiction about CEO coaching!

 

What is a CEO Coach?

 

A CEO coach is someone who runs a talent development practice individually and specifically tailored for CEO clients.

They utilize one-on-one meetings with their clients to help them better understand themselves and how others perceive them.

To do so, coaches set goals with their clients.  The goals reflect where their CEO client wants to be in the future.

Then, they come up with plans on how to help them get there.  Those plans include steps that the CEO can take on a daily basis to improve themselves. 

Furthermore, the CEO helps bring out the qualities and talents in a CEO that likely would have otherwise never come out!  In the end, the CEO is better equipped to achieve all of their goals.

 

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What Can a Coach Do For a CEO?

 

CEO coaching helps CEOs bring out their talents to achieve their business goals.  But, what are the other benefits of coaching?

A few of the top benefits include:

  1. Empowerment
  2. Clarified visions
  3. Increased motivation

First off, CEO coaching doesn't teach you to be a better CEO.  Instead, it empowers you to be a better CEO.

Teaching tells you what to do to solve your problems.  On the other hand, empowerment equips you with the tools that you need to figure your problems yourself!  

It’s like what they say… You can give someone a fish and they won’t be hungry.  Or, you can teach them to fish and they won’t go hungry again.

The empowerment that you get from coaching is like being taught how to fish!

Second, great CEOs are visionaries!  While being a visionary is certainly a strength, it can become a weakness if those visions aren't clarified.

An experienced CEO coach can get you to bring your visions to life by helping clarify them.

Lastly, being a CEO is challenging to say the least.  Nobody knows that truth better than a CEO coach!  

Because of the challenge of the role, it's normal for CEOs to lose motivation during the process.  When they are hit with countless challenges, it can make them want to throw their hands in the air and walk away.

A top-level CEO coach can help boost that motivation when it starts to get low!  Because they've been in their shoes before, they know what it takes to get their client back on the motivation track.

 

Why Are There So Many Negative Myths About CEO Coaching?

 

Do you follow any business, leadership, or self-development accounts on social media?  

More specifically, the kinds of accounts in which some obscure person on the other side of the screen has the label "coach" attached to their name and sounds off on business and personal advice.

Yet, you're not even sure who these people are, what kind of experience they have, and whether or not what they are saying is even remotely close to true.

If you answered 'yes', then you're not alone!

The coaching industry has seen a massive surge of growth over the last couple of years.  While it was somewhat of a small industry years ago, today there are literally thousands of people all over the world selling business and other types of coaching services.

On one hand, this is great news.  Considering that some of the world's top entrepreneurs have made use of coaching, it's great that it's become more well-known and accessible to people who need it.

On the other hand, this is not-so-good news.  With a huge surge in the number of coaches out there, it begs the question... Is every ‘coach’ out there a qualified coach?  And, do they have any relevant experience worthy of calling themselves a coach?

Furthermore, while there has been a massive surge in the quantity of coaches available, that doesn’t mean that the quality of coaches has gone up as well!

With that being said, there are so many myths, and quite frankly negative ones, about CEO coaching these days because of the saturation of the field AND the fact that anyone can call themselves a ‘coach’ without having the experience required to shell out advice.

As a result, most of the myths surrounding CEO coaching are quite negative!  And in some instances, we can't really blame people for believing in those myths.

However, the truth is that those myths aren't relevant to all CEO coaches.  Because, the truth is that top-tier coaches:

  • Are experienced business leaders themselves
  • Have relevant business experience to share
  • Have legitimate coaching services that could be the difference between you now and you reaching your greatest potential

In short: It makes sense why there are so many negative myths about CEO coaching.  But, we're here to tell you that those myths don't apply to the top, world-class coaches!  

In the end, making a personal investment in a top CEO coach can be the best possible investment in your career as a chief executive officer.

 

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Myths About Executive Coaching

 

Now without further ado, here are some of the most common myths about CEO coaching.

Most people come to believe in these myths thanks to jargon that they hear from illegitimate ‘coaches’ on the internet or social media.

BUT, remember that these are simply myths!  While they might be applicable to the click-baity, sitting on the beach in a lounge chair kind of coaches, they aren't for the real-deal coaches.

Furthermore, here are the most common myths about CEO coaching that are completely untrue for highly qualified, top-tier business coaches!

 

CEO Coaches Don’t Have CEO Experience

 

Perhaps the worst and most pervasive myth about CEO coaches is that they don't have any entrepreneurship, senior executive, or executive leadership experience at all!

While that might be true for the click-bait beach chair coaches, it's the opposite of true for top coaches.

As a result of this myth, people tend to have a lot of mistrust in coaches.  They think that, 'Anyone can attach the CEO coach title to their social media username and give out leadership advice...so why would I trust any of them?'

Again, more likely than not, those people are used to seeing the click-bait coaches and not the real deal coaches!

Therefore, they become conditioned to believe that any CEO coach that they encounter online has little to no experience in being a CEO.

 

Coaches Don’t Give Strategic Advice

 

The myth that CEO coaches don't give any strategic, actionable, or legitimate advice is another one of the most pervasive and negative myths about CEO coaching.

The people who most likely believe this myth are, again, the people who are used to seeing the click-bait lounge chair coaches on their social media feed everyday!

More specifically, the click-bait coach who's only real business advice is to ‘just believe’ or ‘mediate and everything will be alright’!

Moreover, these are the kinds of coaches who don't shell out any guided steps on how to achieve business goals.  None of their advice is strategic, but instead a bunch of jargon that doesn’t give a single bit of actionable guidance. 

Unfortunately, there are many of these types of coaches out there.  And, not only do they not give any actionable advice, but most of their advice is just a copy and paste from other so-called ‘coaches’ on the internet.

High performance executive coaches are in a totally different league from the types of coaches who don’t give any strategic advice!

 

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You Don’t Need a Coach if You Have a Mentor

 

In short: A coach is not the same thing as a mentor.

Coaches help you take action by coming up with a game plan, whether it be to help you ignite business growth or take your leadership style to the next level.  Moreover, coaching sessions are about crafting strategic plans!

On the other hand, mentorship is less formal.  A mentor is someone who has experience doing what you're trying to do, but doesn't give out the same kind of strategic advice as a coach.  They also act as more of a sounding board than a coach does. 

And, we're not hating on mentorship!  In fact, we suggest having a mentor if you like that sort of thing.  Or if you’re not into mentorship, finding inspiration from other successful entrepreneurs through means like podcasts or peer groups. 

But, it's a myth to think that you don't need a coach if you have a mentor, because coaching and mentoring are two completely different things.

 

Most Successful CEOs Don’t Have Coaches

 

When you research how the world's most successful CEOs have come to achieve greatness, you'll realize that many of them have relied on using the same tactics, tools, and habits including:

  • Journaling
  • Attending conferences
  • Leadership or online business training

While those are all important for success, they don't tell the whole story.  Because, if they did, then you would most likely see CEO coaching as a common tactic used by successful CEOs!

Maybe because coaching only became popularized in recent years, some people believe the myth that highly successful current and former CEOs don't take advantage of coaching.  Or, maybe it's because CEOs aren't always transparent about it!

However, this is just a myth.  In fact, some of the most infamous CEOs of all time credit CEO coaches for helping them achieve success.

 

CEO Coaches Are Strictly Business

 

Whether it's because of what people see in movies, TV, or social media, there is the common myth that CEOs are very stoic, cold, and unrelatable people.  Perhaps a better word for it is that they are robotic.

Because of this, there is another myth that CEO coaches are the same way.

However, that couldn't be further from the truth!

Top coaches aren't strictly business.  While they're strategic and set on helping you to achieve all of your business goals, that doesn't mean that they don't care beyond that.

In fact, a lot of top CEO coaching advice comes down to making lifestyle changes outside of the office!

The best coaches are not 100% business.  They're not robots!  Instead, they're relatable people who help you become your best self, both inside and outside of business.

 

Truths About Executive Coaching (What It’s Really About)

 

Looking for a CEO coach?  Or, want to know the real deal about CEO coaching?

Here are the hard truths about high-level executive coaches!

These truths reveal the serious value that can come from having a top-tier coach.

Don't fall for the myths, follow the truths!

 

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World-Class CEO Coaches DO Have CEO Experience

 

If you've never played basketball before, would you try and coach basketball?  Hopefully not!

Along these same lines, world-class CEO coaches are the best because they provide advice and guidance based on their own experiences as a CEO.  

They're not coaching you based on what they read in a textbook!  Instead, they're coaching you based on what they learned back when they were in your shoes.

And, because they've been in your exact same shoes before, they know how to dish out the exact advice you need.  

Most importantly, they're able to spot blind spots in your business plans.  Blind spots are issues that you might not even realize are there because they are hard to see unless you are looking from an outsider's perspective.

This clashes with the myth that CEO coaches don't have any legit experience, and therefore shouldn't be shelling out advice.

We can't deny that there are people out there posing as coaches that haven't achieved high level success themselves.  But again, that is not true of top tier coaches!

Bottom line: The best of the best CEO coaches coach based on the knowledge that they have gained from being CEOs themselves!

 

CEO Coaches Create a Strategic Playbook

 

CEO coaches help you create a strategic playbook to achieve your business goals.  A strategic playbook lays out your business goals and exactly how you are going to achieve them.

For example, if your goal is to increase your annual revenue... plain and simple... Your CEO coach will help you set short and long-term revenue goals.  Then, they will help you come up with steps you can take on a daily basis to achieve those goals.

In short… CEO coaches help make your visions reality by showing what you can do everyday to help get to that final point.

A top CEO coach is the opposite of obscure!  And, you will know that they are top-tier because they help you come up with actionable steps.

On the other hand, you will know that a coach is the opposite of good if they give vague, un-guided advice.  Moreover, they are like the type of coach we mentioned above who’s best advice falls along the lines of ‘just believe’.

Furthermore, CEO coaches are for people who need a hand turning their visions into goals and coming up with a playbook to achieve them!

 

A CEO Coach is Not a Mentor

 

Got a mentor? Great!

Want to become your best CEO-self?  Also great!

But, a CEO coach is going to help you get there faster than a mentor will.

Like we mentioned above, coaches and mentors are not the same thing.  But, we're not saying that you shouldn't have a mentor.

Instead, we are saying that a coach with a specific coaching program is better fitted to help you achieve your business goals than a mentor is.  

This comes down to the fact that CEO coaches are strategic and supportive, whereas mentors are almost all supportive and barely strategic. 

Therefore, step up your business, leadership, and personal development game by investing in a CEO coach.

 

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The Best CEOs In the World Have Had Coaches

 

Believe it or not, but some of the world's most successful CEOs have had coaches, including:

  1. Co-founder and visionary behind Apple, Steve Jobs
  2. Author, television host, and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey
  3. Chairman and CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt

The proof is in the pudding!

The truth is that, if you want to achieve something, you should look to others who have already achieved it and do as they have.

Therefore, if you want to become the most successful CEO version of yourself, you should do as other successful CEOs have done and take up CEO coaching!

Don't think for a second that people like Steve Jobs and Oprah figured it all out on their own.  The truth is that they had the help of CEO coaches throughout their journey.

For example, both Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt were coached by legendary businessman, Bill Campbells.  In addition to Jobs and Schmidt, Jeff Bezos is another one of Campbell's long-time clients.

Furthermore, do as other successful CEOs have done by taking up CEO coaching!

 

CEO Coaches Help With Business and Life

 

Perhaps the best part of the entire CEO coaching experience is that it's about more than just business.

Not only that, but it's not a matter of opening up your video camera to a person on the other end in a suit and having a zero-frills conversation.

Rather, the business coaching experience is about crafting an overall better life for yourself with someone who is relatable to you because they've been in your shoes before!

In short: Business coaching helps you become a better person.  Period.

In addition to improving your business in whatever aspect you wish to, you'll also improve your personal life, wellness, and mentality.

Also, there's nothing quite like having a coach who is a relatable person.  By relatable, we mean someone who has been in a similar spot as you before having faced extreme challenges, yet maintains their personability and humility. 

Your CEO coaching experience isn't just about becoming a better CEO.  It's about becoming the best version of yourself.

 

Final Thoughts on Myths and Truths of CEO Coaching

 

There are a lot of myths out there about CEO coaching.

Like we mentioned before, given the saturation of the field + density of low-quality click-bait coaches, we don't blame people for believing in the myths!

But if you can look past them, you will see the truths of coaching.  The truth reveals the serious business, personal, and leadership development potential that it has.

Bottom line: CEO coaching from a high-level coach can make the difference between staying where you are now and getting beyond where you envision yourself to be!