Executives must allow and accept criticism from above and below. Only then can they lead effectively, improve themselves and build on success. As a recent article in Chief Executive Magazine points out, many leaders don’t hear, permit or even recognize good constructive criticism.
But let’s look at it from another point of view -that of the executive coach. At CommCore we believe that coaches have an obligation to provide “decent dissent,” and we have a role to play in getting the executive to “see” the world through the eyes of his/her audience. In other words, it is not enough for a coach to rattle off a list of observed flaws, present generic techniques and leave the executive to take the advice or dismiss it to their peril. A good coach deftly opens the executive’s eyes to the realities and offers specific, tailored ways to address and overcome deficiencies.
Some may argue that it is entirely up to the executive, and some are simply un-coachable – that some will never “see” the real world. We believe that while most leaders may fear knowing the truth, they ultimately want to and make adjustments accordingly. It just takes the right approach. That’s the real art of coaching. Build a rapport and trust. Gain their confidence. Show them the safety in taking some risk and of seeing the operations from other perspectives. They don’t necessarily have to star on Undercover Boss; just accept a bit of decent dissent.
Do you agree that at least part of the obligation to make an executive allow dissent falls on the coach? What examples have you observed of coaches handling “blind” leaders well or poorly?