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Today’s CEOs don’t KNOW what to do, they LEARN what to do

The modern day CEO needs to mix decisiveness with engagement. It’s constant learning in a frantic world of work. Coaching can help develop awareness, self - regulation and positive team behaviors to cope and thrive.

Our CEO’s in different industries spanning SaaS (document management, predictive marketing, and customer communication, coaching and employee engagement) were all obviously in different situations, but there was consistency in dealing with disruption and a faster pace driven by expectations around them – customers, employees, and shareholders or stakeholders.

In dealing with this pace of change these CEO’s all new to the role are leading from the front, very much in new territory. I was curious to explore what that felt like and how they dealt with it. I felt the loneliness of a leader in these conversations and how it can be a burden, not to say that these CEO’s spoke of that, simply that it was palpable.

As a CEO, you have to deal decisively with the realities of the business, and build sustainable commitment from your employees over time. The CEO makes the final call and you can’t please everyone all of the time.

Randy Wootton, CEO of Rocket Fuel approaches his role very purposefully, with a clear structure assessing business performance, exploring strategy and then making sure that the execution happens. Behind this, what impresses me is how he invests in himself personally, consciously recognizing and filling gaps he realizes are important for him as a new CEO.

Taking time to refresh understanding in financial management, being purposeful about networking in a community of CEO’s and identifying a mentor who he knew would be able to give him guidance and encouragement are terrific steps to take when you want to ensure that you are as qualified and knowledgeable as you can be. What a great sign to your employees too, that it is important to possess a learning mindset.

Emotional connection and presence is also an important quality in leading an organization, especially when pioneering or struggling with tough deliverables – change is often hard. As Doug Miller, former CEO of Chatbox puts it “you have to be enthusiastic beyond what is rational”.

Artificial Intelligence and automation are on CEO’s minds. “A model of analysis that is quicker and more straightforward will emerge”, says Dan Springer, CEO of Docusign.

We can see today the increased demand for data scientists and analysts, and the implication is that jobs skills required by companies will change – a known unknown. There is also a lot of unknown unknowns in the sphere of AI, how products and services will emerge, and how businesses and their employees will be affected.

In dealing with change and responsibility in leading their organizations I was not surprised to hear that these CEO’s had utilized coaches to support them in their own development. Abigail Rappoport, CEO of Emoquo, a SaaS platform for digital coaching to improve productivity and generate improved emotional resilience, says “a great coach facilitates insightful reflection – you realize something different and new that you then think about for weeks. But the client has to do the work to get there”. To echo this, Dan Springer also feels that some coaches don’t listen sufficiently.

“Being a great listener is so important – the answers are usually in the client’s minds”.

There’s no doubt that coaching has helped these CEO’s and that successful coaching develops self-awareness, leading to positive behavior and greatly increased odds of success.

With thanks to the contributors:

Doug Miller, Former CEO, Chatbox Personalized omni-channel messaging platform Dan Springer, CEO Docusign

The industry leading digital signature company Abigail Rappoport, CEO Emoquo

The personal digital coach, shining the light on real work issues, and how to handle them Jesse Hertzberg, CEO Live Stream

Founded in 2007 with a mission to enable organizations to share experiences through live video, unlocking a world where every event is available live online

Randy Wootton, CEO Rocket Fuel

Simplifying the delivery of personalized and relevant digital communication for clients who are wrestling with engaging consumers in an increasingly complex journey to purchase, built on a foundation of AI

Barbara Gobbi