Ram Charan.jpgI’m currently reading “What the CEO wants you to know,” by Ram Charan, and it’s safe to say that it belongs in the top 10 business-books, I’ve ever read. It’s only 140 pages short, but filled with advice that is extremely easy to digest, that I’ll be sure to re-read it several times later on, and can warmly recommend to others too.

One chapter in the book struck me particularly, on coaching, as I consider it a vital skill in business-relationships. Although I think Mr. Charan paints a bit of a rosy picture, I consider it a good standard to aim for. Some quotes:

How would you feel if someone gave you positive feedback on the things you’re doing well and specific suggestions for building your skills? Chances are you would feel that you had a personal coach, someone who wanted to hep you succeed. You would feel energized. I can tell you from experience that it works. You can do it for those who report to you, and in the process, you will expand your own capacity.

Coaching is not a performance review. It’s not about what someone did last year, and it’s not about money. It’s very personal. You’re hitting the person between the eyes. You’re helping him face his blind sides and learn to do things better. The feedback has to be honest and direct. No sugar coating.

Self-confident, secure leaders love to give true feedback because they know that growing people is their responsibility. By true feedback, I mean saying what they really think. Too often, people hesitate because they know they may be wrong, or that they feel reprisal. But chances are your instincts are correct, and they’ll improve over time. I’ve seen numerous times that when you put experienced businesspeople around a table and they talk candidly about an individual, the judgements converge very quickly. It’s not had to zero in on the most critical thing the person needs to improve.

Some people say this kind of coaching is a good idea, but their company doesn’t have the ambiance for it. Still, you can start with three of four people who would be receptive for it.

The chapter also goes into a number of examples from real life.

Charan’s book is all about understanding business principles and setting a limited number of fundamental priorities to improve a business. Coaching is a logical extension to that, as when you clearly communicate what the business priorities should be and how that individual can get there, that’s essentially coaching (and makes your life considerably easier in the process).

The author also co-wrote a book called “Execution,” which I haven’t read, but based on this book, believe is a good choice if you need a more modern read. “What the CEO wants you to know,” is from 2000, but I consider it timeless advice.