Coaching the Egotist Executive

23 Feb Coaching the Egotist Executive

Within the first couple of minutes meeting with Bob Granelle, for his executive development coaching feedback session, I felt ready to show him the door. Of course, I didn’t. I was his coach. As a senior executive, and self-proclaimed, rightful and best successor to the CEO’s chair for a global manufacturing organization, his demeanor was unusually abrasive. His words were filled with self-admiration and an all-knowing aura. In fact, not once in the hundreds of coaching sessions I have conducted, had I experienced such overt bragging — so quickly.

So, I did what coaches do. I listened. I jotted notes. I listened. I couldn’t have gotten a word in anyway for Bob was really on a roll. Bob’s grandiose story unraveled to where I could begin asking basic questions about thirty minutes in.

Surprisingly, he was even an expert on “assessments” psychology, feedback, you name it – he claimed to know it. After much probing and digging Bob did admit to having a bit of a career concern, though he had no “performance” related problems. He was concerned that his boss, CEO/President, and he didn’t see things eye to eye anymore and that the gap was growing. He also confided that there was no one he could trust or listen to whose opinions were worthwhile – that is–other than his wife’s. His entire focus and concern seemed to evolve around his succession to the top slot.

This actual coaching session is classic for one who has a high risk or derailer for what we call “Egotist” scale measured the CDR Leadership Risk Assessment tool. As a coach, the most difficult hurdle is to get past the thick wall of excessive self-confidence. By definition, listening to feedback is not within the Egotist’s world. With good information and patience, one can penetrate and help – somewhat. Then you have to boldly hit with the facts, after you have listened to him bloviate, with how condescending, arrogant and over the top he is… Play back examples. Most importantly, help him or her to understand the negative impact on their own success. Then suddenly, you will have their attention, as I did Bob’s.

(real case study — name changed of course!)