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Almost Two-Thirds of CEOs Don't Get Outside Business Advice

August 1, 2013
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227665

It's lonely at the top, as the saying goes. And, according to one new survey, most executives are not getting outside business advice despite wanting it.

Nearly two-thirds of CEOs and almost half of senior executives do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches, the survey finds. The study of more than 200 CEOs, board directors and senior executives of North American public and private companies was conducted by Stanford University and executive coaching firm The Miles Group.

"Given how vitally important it is for the CEO to be getting the best possible counsel, independent of their board, in order to maintain the health of the corporation, it's concerning that so many of them are going it alone," says Stephen Miles, CEO of The Miles Group, in a statement. "Even the best-of-the-best CEOs have their blind spots and can dramatically improve their performance with an outside perspective weighing in."

Of the CEOs who have received coaching, most (78 percent) said it was their own idea rather than the board's insistence. Meanwhile, the top areas that CEOs hope to improve are delegation, conflict management, team building and mentoring.

Here are three common pieces of advice you'd get from a business coach:

Face challenges.
Great leaders are brave enough to face up to challenging situations and deal with them honestly. Whether it's steering through a business downturn or getting struggling employees back on track, effective leaders meet these challenges openly. Regular communication with your staff is essential. Informing them of both good news and bad helps employees feel trusted and more confident that they won't be hit with unpleasant surprises. See more: 5 Keys to Inspiring Leadership, No Matter Your Style

Ask more and better questions.
Inquire more deeply to truly unearth important ideas. When you improve the quality and quantity of questions you ask, you increase the potentially valuable information you receive. Don't just ask an expert for their opinion. Dig deeper: ask them why they feel that way, whether they've counseled others with a similar situation and what happened as a result. See more: Leadership Basics: What to Do When You Don't Have All the Answers

Consider the best uses of your time and attention. Delegate the rest.
An important question that all leaders need to ask themselves on a regular basis is 'What is it that only I can do?' That question is not about being indispensable. Rather, it's about thoughtfully considering the highest and best uses of your time and attention. Where is the value really added? Assess the things that only you can do, and find help for the rest. See more: Five Ways to Better Leadership