The one area in which C.E.O. advice rarely applies

Whether he’s offering a give-it-to-me-or-lose-it version of effective management or an inspirational tale on how to find more love in a less-than-perfect relationship, as a C.E.O. maybe the one person we turn to for…

The one area in which C.E.O. advice rarely applies

Whether he’s offering a give-it-to-me-or-lose-it version of effective management or an inspirational tale on how to find more love in a less-than-perfect relationship, as a C.E.O. maybe the one person we turn to for tips on how to run our business. In fact, we might even call on him or her to babysit a daughter, or to invite us on a date—with their own daughters. Yet there is one area where the advice given is decidedly not applicable.

Business coaching generally centers on business. The enterprise’s needs and the needs of its employees often collide and often, if not inevitably, the enterprise can’t meet its demands. As the business owner, your biggest worry is as likely to be making a bad financial decision or not having the right people on your team.

Over the years, C.E.O.s have provided guidance on maintaining a positive and a stable company culture, while ensuring a succession plan and training is in place for when the Chief Executive Officer is gone. And by holding discussions about possible mergers and acquisitions and improving the company’s financials, they offer suggestions on how to get the most out of your product, operate efficiently and make decisions that will set your company apart.

Yet, even if you’re not a C.E.O., a lot of us have to deal with non-business related decisions every day, when that are questions about customer or employee retention, where to place a new office or if your son or daughter needs a mentor or coach. And outside of employee relations, consider all the financial considerations that come up: Increasing the number of customers, capitalizing on other resources to make employees a bigger part of the business. All of this is not a business topic, but the influences on our human capital are nonetheless critical.

What you do with that human capital determines not only the outcome of your business, but also the potential impact of your personal life.

So what do C.E.O.s tell their management teams? First, it has nothing to do with business. Their advice is often about personal relationships, family connections and the role faith plays in the day-to-day lives of those they’re not the head of. It is in fact, the personal perspective of the C.E.O. that is particularly valuable.

Second, when their advice comes in for use at the most senior levels of a business, it really isn’t about their life experience—it’s about the customer. While they’re doing more and more of their work from home, their customers are human beings, whether its employees or business partners. And you can’t help who they are or what their life experience is by watching the news or listening to radio and TV broadcasts. The C.E.O. really understands the role their products and services play in people’s lives.

C.E.O. clients can agree with their advice or disagree, but in any case, the advice isn’t tactical, and it’s certainly not an expert opinion, but more of an outsider’s perspective based on his or her own experiences. When your business is your personal life, you want your boss to have empathy and understanding for the customers, vendors and employees who make it up. Don’t just take what you’re told—try to listen closely to the advice he or she gives.

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