Forbes Coaches Council Member

An Executive Coaching Plan for Our New Commander-in-Chief

We have a new CEO – Commander-in-Chief. Not one whom I wanted, nor one I would have hired. But I did expect him to get the job. #NotStunned #NotShocked

And similar to my experiences working with any CEO for the first time, I want to get to know him. I have a pretty good idea of the leader he is today. So for my own peace of mind – and likely many others – I’d like to understand what type of leader he aspires to become.

He hasn’t yet requested my executive coaching services, as he’s currently spending time with his campaign squad. But assuming he wants to be the best leader he’s capable of being, I’ve taken the initiative to lay out some of the questions I have for him.

Mr. President-elect:

You seem to be very high on independence and low on manageability, which tells me you don’t have a serious regard for authority and are not likely to follow rules. (I understand, as I’m highly independent and low on manageability as well.) But I’d like to know how this will allow you to be open to hearing feedback? How will you make sure you’re setting clear expectations and delegating properly? And given the fact that you haven’t done this job before, are you willing to ask for help when you need it and consider the opinions of those whom you disagree with?

The best leaders I know remain calm and stay level-headed in the eye of the storm. You seem highly assertive, which may cause you to overreact to situations that don’t warrant it. I’m curious how you’ll exercise diplomacy and react at an appropriate level to your fellow team members and customers (people who voted for you and people who did not)?

You have a very optimistic attitude. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being high, I’d rate you a 9. How will this serve as a strength in your new role? And more importantly, will you listen to your team’s feedback when a more cautious approach is warranted?

You are a strong communicator; in that you speak at a level that resonates with most of the population and the words you use make your message easy to understand. This is a great strength for a CEO, especially when you need to engage and mobilize staff and customers. I’m wondering, however, how will you encourage your team and customers to push back? How will you invite them to challenge your thinking as the best leaders do?

The CEOs I’ve interviewed and coached have moved away from the command and control leadership model to servant leadership – a more humble, people-centered approach. It’s because they value knowledge shared from all directions, foster collaboration and create an open, creative environment for innovation. Based on what I know about you, these are not values you prioritize. However, with such a highly divided customer-base, how do you intend to change your behavior in order to build trust and bridge the divide?

Assuming you’re open to doing the hard work that makes leaders great, I have ideas on how you can be successful. But before we move forward, I have one final question. Is there anything else you’d like me to know? I ask you this Mr. President-elect because I’m desperately hoping I will be pleasantly surprised.

Find more leadership advice in my book “From the CEO’s Perspective” where I interview 20 top CEOs on how they are developing leaders in today’s world.

Watch my latest CEO Forum coverage on Leading Multi-Gen Workforces with advice from Ken Alterman, CEO of SAVERS/Value Village, Kimberly Harris, CEO of Puget Sound Energy and Kevin Klock, CEO of Talking Rain. Thanks to our sponsor, Regence.

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