Having worked closely with dozens of CEOs, I understand the intense challenges that present themselves to top-level managers, and what is needed to make leaders more effective. This may involve addressing concerns such as how one is perceived by others, how one deals with stress, and how aspiring entrepreneurs are inhibited because of a lack of confidence. While each relationship is unique, there are many common challenges CEO’s experience. Below are a few examples of areas I address with my clients.
CEO ADVISORY GROUPS
It’s often helpful to bring a group of CEOs together to address common challenges and learn from each other’s perspectives. I facilitate full-day CEO Advisory Groups three times per year, as an opportunity for leaders to gather, share knowledge and learn new ways of approaching solutions.
Succession Planning for Family Business
The unwillingness or inability to plan for succession is the most common issue plaguing the business family. Philly.com recently published results from a survey of 100 privately held businesses in the Philadelphia region, including South Jersey and northern Delaware, that found, “62 percent of senior-generation owners plan to retire or move out of their leadership positions in the next 10 years, while 65 percent of respondents said they did not have clear retirement plans.” In my consulting role, I help founders and owners address psychological barriers to succession planning, ensuring they plan properly and effectively for transitions, succession, or sale. I pay particular attention to the interpersonal family conflicts, assisting family members to have the critical and necessary conversations that for many reasons have been avoided.
I advise CEOs and Boards on the often painful process of leadership change. In situations of planned CEO departure, I assist the CEO and Board with their selection process. In this capacity, I may partner with a more traditional search firm, adding value by providing another set of eyes, offering an independent assessment of the candidates which can help to confirm a Board selection. I serve as an advisor throughout the succession process, focusing on candidate personality, emotional intelligence and cultural fit with the company, management team, and family when a family business is the client. In situations that involve an unpopular and extremely difficult decision to remove a standing CEO, I assist the Board in the process of leadership change and subsequently help in the assessment of prospective candidates. I may also work with the new CEO in an advisory capacity to provide for a smooth and successful on boarding process.
Developing Corporate Culture
Kerry J. Sulkowicz, Founder of the Bosswell Group, has said “the culture of a company emanates primarily from the personality of the founder or chief executive, but over time becomes embedded in other key individuals, and in practices and policies of the business. Nevertheless, the CEO wields the greatest leverage to create, sustain and change the culture.” The CEO’s effect on an organization’s corporate culture cannot be overstated. Through consulting with CEOs I can help them to develop and implement a strong, healthy and effective corporate culture.
According to a 2013 Executive Coaching Survey conducted by Standford’s Graduate School of Business, dealing with conflict ranks as highest area of concern for CEOs. The same study found that nearly 66% of CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches, while 100% of them stated that they are receptive to making changes based on feedback. Utilizing a psychodynamic approach, I work with CEO’s to help then effectively address areas of conflct in themselves, their teams and organizations.
improving Team Dynamics
When working with teams, I conduct 360-degree assessments of senior management , focusing on the quality and effectiveness of leadership, and the interactions among members of the team. These assessments are designed to provide a composite picture of the dynamics of the entire team. The ensuing consulting work addresses the ability of the team to work towards a common purpose, to follow the imperatives of the CEO, to engage in open and direct discussion and debate, and to think and collaborate creatively.