The current headlines in the morning newspaper feel like the daily roll call for the next company’s announcement of layoffs and missed earnings projections. It’s got me wondering. What are CEOs going through in terms of how they are going to lead their organization through 2009 and out of this recession and beyond? If today’s CEOs and managers have knots forming in their stomachs as each day passes about this recession, there’s some comforting news just around the corner. Executive coaching could be just what the doctor ordered.
CEOs are actively seeking outside consulting because they want advice on how to better lead their organizations. And who can blame them? It’s in the hard numbers according to recent surveys. The following are some highlights of what CEOs are facing:
According to a January 2009 survey of small business owners:
• 38% of owners (almost 4 out of 10) said they have experienced cash flow issues within the past 90 days
• In relation to owner optimism, 51% of owners feel economic conditions are getting worse, a percentage unchanged from the previous month.
According PricewaterhouseCoopers 12th Annual Global CEO Survey:
• Nearly 70% of CEOs said their companies will be affected by the credit crisis. Of those, nearly 80% said they faced higher financing costs, and nearly 70% said they would delay planned investments as a result.
• Only 19% said they will increase spending on business development over the next six months, which is the lowest figure reported in the survey’s 30 month history.
I recently wrote an article on mentoring, A Mentor for the Senior Manager – Why Not? I reiterate that it’s a good idea for a top level executive to role-play with a mentor. In following up to that concept, CEOs are taking a step further with mentorship. CEOs are joining Vistage International, an organization specializing in executive and business coaching. Vistage is a peer organization group where professionals spend one day a month with up to sixteen other executives from non-competing firms, and they examine and explore economic solutions and provide each other with guidance and support.
Vistage has several programs tailored to many types of individuals, ranging from business owners to various professionals. Regardless of your background, the central themes apply across the board. As a business owner, there may be feelings or ideas that you can’t confide in someone inside your business, maybe for confidentiality reasons. Another phrase often heard is that “it’s lonely at the top” and feelings of isolation take over. Still others intimate that it would be comforting to discuss challenges their business is facing, and while there may be some possible answers, they just aren’t sure what the right ones are for their business. If any of these or similar situations apply to you, the CEO and chairman of the board of Vistage International, Rafael Pastor, has a message on the company’s website worth digesting. In addition to receiving help with business strategies, he says, “many of our members are being challenged by uncertainty and anxiety in ways they’ve never been before as leaders, and we’re also helping them to be confident, calm and courageous.”
Vistage’s program is not about sitting in a large seminar all day. “It’s all about interaction,” says Tony Vignieri, Chief of Corporate Communications of Vistage. The discussions involve “pertinent issues facing you and your business and looking at things in a different perspective and helping you work on your business and not in your business. Just because you’re a CEO doesn’t mean you stop learning.”
Vignieri pointed to an internal survey, which reported that Vistage member companies are better run, and their respective businesses grew at twice the percentage growth rate after joining Vistage. “Everybody is dealing with the four C’s: cash flow, cost of product, credit, and customers.” Executive coaching can assist you with these areas of your business. To find out more about Vistage International and its services, visit their website at http://vistage.com.