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  • Chris Gannett


Becoming CEO doesn’t mean that you suddenly have all the answers, and top executives realize there is room for growth in everyone.

Specifically, leaders of growth-stage companies need to continuously scale to keep up with their companies. In the midst of the "hand-to-hand combat" of growth, abilities to simplify complexity, inspire in moments when hope is needed, build relationships when there is distrust, build bridges when things are fragmenting, and enable change in people who may not want to change can go overlooked. An experienced executive coach can help you deepen connection to your company, and invoke essential leadership skills ranging from showing empathy, to building safety and teamwork, and establishing a space where people can show up and be vulnerable.

All of these skills start with self-awareness. Having open conversations about your own derailers, strengths, and opportunities can spark this action. Our "coachees" believe certified coaching on a consistent basis helped them make these transformational differences.


For startups and established companies to grow fast, the founder or CEO needs to grow faster. But sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing wrong, and your position of power in the company means no one will give you objective feedback.

When the founders in our portfolio or executive leaders who we support as coachees with Berkeley Method coaching consistently ask the same question, we listen. If it’s important to most of our founders and clients, it’s likely a challenge for all growth stage leaders. So here we want to explain what executive coaching is, and why a coach can be vital to helping a founder or CEO upskill as their company scales.


As your company grows, there are fewer and fewer people with whom you can be honest - and we mean "raw" honesty with a backstop of trust. Coaches are there to act as a safe, confidential and consistent space for founders and CEOs to share their concerns with someone objective and unattached to the outcome.

Your coach builds a relationship with you to understand the core of what drives you, and through that process can uncover areas to explore that can take you to the next level if investigated honestly and intentionally — spanning interpersonal skills (communication, delegation, team-building) to self-management skills (handling stress, understanding your intrinsic motivation), to leadership skills (planning, decision-making, conflict management, organizational culture).

Through an approach of championing and challenging, a certified coach can help you examine your own thinking and decision-making, and commit to action to help you achieve your goals.

Through conversation with you, and a combined approach of championing and challenging, a certified coach can help you examine your own own thinking and decision-making, provoke new ideas and insights, and commit to action steps that will help you achieve your goals in areas as broad as setting goals, managing stress, handling cofounder conflict, and communicating with employees. The intention of every coaching session is to help you deepen awareness, unlock new perspectives and question assumptions.


While therapy is typically reflective and driven only by conversations with the client, coaching is action-oriented, high performance focused, and can be informed by data from colleagues and board members in addition to the client.


While a coaching relationship typically starts with the founder and/or CEO, many companies see the benefit and extend the practice out to the company more broadly:

Co-Founder Coaching: This is helpful to keep your relationship with your cofounder(s) aligned and conflict-free as you scale.

Executive Team Coaching: The leadership teams needs to scale as quickly as the founders, and rapid growth often leads to tension in the team due to scarce resources and conflicting priorities. Coaching can help both individuals and team cohesion.

Culture and Org Strategy: As you grow from 20 to 200 to 2000 you will inevitably encounter new problems — your early employees may feel disgruntled as new recruits are promoted over them and tools used earlier in your company's life to build culture won’t scale. A coach can help you think through how to support an inclusive culture, open communication, and a coherent organizational design as your company hits new milestones.


Most often coaching relationships will last between 3 months and several years. They can consist of 1:1 meetings, 360 feedback from your team, and shadowing you in meetings, on video and phone calls, and in email.

Premier executive coaching programs reliably drive between 500% and 700% ROI when implemented with consistency and quality, and produce a range of financial and intangible business benefits. These tend to be proportionately greater among those with customer or people responsibilities. Most frequently cited outcomes in a startup environment include performing at a higher level and reaching company and revenue goals faster. (Source: Metric Global Study)


The best way to find a great coach is through referrals. Every coach has a very different style, so we suggest you meet with a few and ask some questions before committing.


  1. Focus — do they focus on helping you with personal areas like self-acceptance and anxiety? Or more practical approaches like organizational design and communication? Or a hybrid?

  2. Interpersonal style and approach — would you prefer someone warm and supportive or critical and direct?

  3. Application of theory — does the coach have any specific theories, models or frameworks they use? How rigidly do they follow them?

  4. Way of working — how often do they want to meet and for what time period? Will they interact solely with you or will they want to speak to colleagues and shadow you in meetings?

This will be hard work -- your coach will hold up a mirror to a number of facts you’d prefer not to face, and will create action plans for you to consciously address personal challenges.

Were you training for an Ironman triathlon, you wouldn’t hesitate to find a coach. So use that logic to engage an executive coach as you run hard at building a global, category-leading company. You’re unlikely to get the full benefit from one session, so plan for at least 3 months of work to begin seeing a real difference.

Gannett.Partners welcomes inquiries and opportunities to get to know each other. Email to connect with us.


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