Mentoring CEOs – A five point checklist

Today I had a 1-1 session with my long-time mentor Sterling Lanier of TEC. We have these sessions once a month and I prepare a lot for every session. One thing has not changed over the years. I always come back enlightened after every meeting with Sterling. There will be something that Sterling will observe or suggest that will create an “Aha..” experience in me. Sterling has been mentoring CEOs for years so I am sure it comes naturally for him.

Out of curiosity, I asked Sterling what the secrets of his success were. He was happy to share some insights and in turn (with his permission) I am passing them along.

When you are coaching a CEO, things to keep in mind:

1. Listen intently:
There are things that are said and there are things that are not said. You need to listen to both of them.

2. Look at the big picture:
You need to be at a different level vertically to look at the big picture. The CEO is busy with ground reality but the mentor has to see the whole battlefield.

3. Ask the right questions:
I have always said that asking the right questions is more important than searching for answers for wrong questions.

4. Understand the short-term and long-term goals of the person:
The design of his or her life should cater to serve towards achieving both the short-term and long-term objectives.

5. No Fee – No Action:
Don’t do this for free. If there is no fee, typically there is no action. In other words, there is no seriousness in the relationship

Last but not the least, just the nature of the relationship (mentor-mentee) makes it easy for the person to derive the highest value from the conversation.

Hope this helps.