How to get your boss onside: a true story

On the back of a successful Leadership Coaching project in a high growth start-up now turning over in excess of £2 million, I have been talking to the company’s MD. He wants to secure executive coaching for himself and take his performance as a leader to the next level. For this to happen he needs buy-in from his CEO. However, there are a number of challenges:

  • The CEO often demonstrates poor listening skills
  • The CEO has a track record of responding to any discussion about ‘training’ as an admission of weakness on the part of the MD
  • Status seems important to the CEO and she can be quite impulsive and autocratic in her decision-making
  • The MD believes it will be difficult to get buy-in and is keen to avoid the CEO rocking the boat and meddling in systems that are working well

My questions to the MD were these:

1. What is important to your boss? This list is by no means exhaustive but could it be

  • Power, results, outcomes, speed of response?
  • Accuracy, value for money, rational explanations, quality?
  • Team cohesion, meaning, relationships?
  • Innovation, diversification, fun, reputation, ego?
  • Or any combination of the above?

2. How might her view of the world affect her ability to tune in to the message you are trying to deliver?

3. How might your view of the world blind you to your CEO’s message?

4. How might you change your communication style to improve the chances of her understanding what the issues are for you?

5. How can you develop an unambiguous case for investing in coaching which demonstrates that both you and the company will benefit?

6. What are you assuming that prevents you from requesting the support that you need?


What would your questions have been?

Do you want to know what happened next?

©Move Ahead Global 2011

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