“I know what needs to get done, Keith.”
Not an uncommon blanket statement that I hear from many top executives and business owners. After all, top executives should be disciplined enough to hold themselves accountable to take the actions they know they need to take, right?
The built-in challenge of business owners or top executives is that if you´re on the top, there´s often no one there with you to support you and ensure that you´re being accountable to your business, your staff and yourself. Being accountable doesn’t always mean that you’re getting ‘everything’ done. It also encompasses taking ownership of the situations around you. Top executives face problems and issues on a daily basis, so there is always a great reason why they cannot do something they initially committed to getting done.
Too many managers operate in a reactionary way, handling one fire after another. So they fail to plan a direction for their company. What complicates this further is if the company is profitable and making money, the owner or manager may not have a burning need to work on the direction of the business rather than the day to day.
The real issue is just paying lip service instead of taking action. For example, it´s easy for a manager to get fired up in a seminar and decide that on Monday he´s going to start a training and coaching program for his people or to take on some other initiative. The problem is that Monday morning, the phone rings and they are now off doing something else. Managed by Distraction or as one of my dear clients said, “Hurricane Management.”
Top executives need more than just a solid strategy, systems and procedures to accomplish their goals. The number one reason for business failure has less to do about the people, strategy, product, process, service or profitability and everything to do with consistent execution on every level. Execution is management’s responsibility.
While managers can get a measure of advice and accountability from their spouse, industry peers or friends, an increasing number of managers are turning to coaches because they offer expertise, third-party perspective, targeted advice, a safe sounding board to talk about their challenges without worrying about being judged and regular phone meetings to speed progress and build in the accountability that’s is often lost at the top.
Experienced coaches have also heard most of the excuses, so we make sure the client stays focused on making the progress they seek.
The coach´s role is to provide owners with the tools and resources they need, to challenge them with perspective and to hold them accountable for the goals that they set. Being accountable encompasses the realization that business is just like sports, if you don´t train you don´t win. Every manager is responsible for developing the skills to lead their company to greater success; regardless of whether or not the company provides the training and coaching you need in – house. In many cases, these people need help managing the fears that have tendency to paralyze them from doing the things they know they really need to do to move their business forward.
Good coaches “call the manager out” when he or she tries to use diversionary tactics or excuses. The coach helps the executive decide what he or she needs to do, develop a strategy and timetable to accomplish it, and then creates the structure to hold them accountable. Since the owner set the goals and timetable, and is paying for the coach´s expertise and time, there is plenty of incentive to follow through on a commitment with the end benefit being faster, safer and more sustainable growth. Plus it’s a heck of a lot more fun.