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What the C-suite really needs !

by Namita Sinha Share via -

"The hardest thing about being famous is that people are always nice to you. You're in a conversation and everybody's agreeing with what you're saying - even if you say something totally crazy. You need people who can tell you what you don't want to hear."

When I came across this great quote from a great actor, my mind was instantly triggered to relate it to the lives of leaders and CEOs in an organization, who are not exactly famous or celebrities in their own right, but who by virtue of the influence , authority and power they wield , are many a time rendered devoid of an honest critical feedback about their own strengths and weaknesses. How difficult and lonely it becomes to so often hear the “Yes” from most of their colleagues and teams , and to be subjected to only false praises, not being able to see through ,as to exactly what’s working and what’s not.

In fact this entire syndrome of many influential senior most leaders, the so called mighty occupants of the C-suite, especially in traditional companies nurturing their own flock of admirers, their indispensable left hands and right hands - only backfires, simply because this coterie most often only serves their own purpose of affording favors from the Bosses by diplomatically flattering or boosting their ego and not really letting them see through their own flaws!

Few days back, I had invited a discussion on a favourite quote by Peter Drucker,

“While the leader of the past knew how to tell, the leader of the future will know how to ask.”

It attracted diverse views and it won’t be wrong to say that, while most leaders wish to play safe just telling others what to do, it pays well in the long run for them to pause and “ask”. Ask others about what they have to say about the inputs coming in from their Boss!

Modern day leader is the one who inspires and motivates his team towards higher accomplishments- he values his own need to continuously learn and grow, he cannot be a person who feels threatened to receive harmless suggestion or critical opinion.

While it’s understandable for subordinates to feel reluctant at times in suggesting that their emperor is wearing no clothes, it’s for the organization and for the leaders to have a circle of reliable critics who genuinely care for them and for the organisation’s wellbeing. It’s not about a formal appraisal or a 360 degree performance review but a regular dialogue with someone who has the ability and who is well positioned to help leaders see both their strengths and weaknesses in the right light! 

Precisely, one of the sole reasons why any organization today would like to invest in hiring a Coach for their “ C -suite occupants : CEO, CFO, COO, Directors”, - to afford for them a person who helps them see for themselves ,the critical aspects of their own functioning, and helps them establish an honest opinion about themselves - setting the tone for improvements on key areas.

It may take years of solid decision making to reach the boardroom, very often it only takes one bad decision to fall. In today's high-pressure environment, leaders need someone they can trust to tell the truth about their behaviour. And though many boards still do not find value in seeing feedback for performance improvement as important as other things, such as financial results, increasingly smart CEOs and progressive organizations now realize the value of a good CEO coach who enables constructive feedback in an atmosphere free from fears, and anxiety.

I wish to sum up by voicing another piece of ancient wisdom coming from none other than the great Indian poet and saint, Kabir , translated here in English – 

“Keep your critic close to you; give him shelter in your courtyard.

Without soap and water he cleanses your character”

Commentary - You get to know your fault if someone criticizes you, and you will have a chance to correct them. Listen to the criticism without annoyance, because the critic is not your enemy. He is helping you to clean the rubbish from your own life.


Thankyou for reading my post and I welcome your comments!

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