The key to any successful coaching relationship is trust, but it is paramount when working with the top gun.  CEOs are used to being in control, not letting someone see them sweat, being prepared with answers to questions they haven’t even asked yet, staying multiple steps ahead of current plans and juggling the demands of employees, shareholders and board members.

Bottom line:  CEOs can’t afford to be wrong.

Coaching is about staying in the questions, exploring, being honest and open. Such a contrast to a CEO’s daily environment!  This initially, can be quite challenging for him/her to step into.  It can be hard for a CEO to trust enough to divulge, to admit there might be something ‘not right’, to explore places of deficiencies, to recognize patterns of behavior/communication that do not serve their teams and/or organizations well.  There is a lot at stake.  It’s the coach’s job to set the tone and create an environment where trust can develop.

Once this safe space is securely established, however – incredible advancement can occur! CEOS tend to be highly creative initiators able to assimilate and use new awarenesses and understandings with lightening speed and uncanny agility.  When he or she begins to explore in a safe, nonjudgmental environment, free of the demands of navigating competing opinions and agendas, clarity comes.  And with that clarity…say hello to new opportunities!

Harvard Business Review wrote about the need for organizations to create that safe place for CEOS/Business Owners to explore, vent, digest, discover and learn.  The buck stops with them.  How much more important is it for CEOs to have a place where the rules of engagement are set aside and it really becomes all about them.

If you are a business owner/CEO reading this, a challenge for you – what might happen in your organization if you permitted yourself the space to explore where you didn’t have all the answers, but instead could play in the questions?