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The CEO's Third Eye
by Jerry Stein


Any decision-maker in a leadership role has to have a 'third eye' to be effective when facing critical decisions. This concept is not new; however, it is taking on increasing importance in the performance of leaders across the board. This 'third eye' comes in the form of an answer to a probing question when asked by the more experienced executive coach.

The dialogue may go something like this: "Well Jack, you say you don't know your options now that you find yourself in this situation, but let's pretend: What if you did know? What would you say to another executive in your position?"

The concept behind this approach is for the Coach to use a 'flanking move' to give the client another perspective on his situation – to shake loose his imagination and creativity. This strategy is adopted because in reality, the client DOES know the answer; he does have the necessary information to explore and understand his options. It's not nearly as important for the Coach to see the answer as it is for the Coach to know how to get the client to see the answer.

The Coach may see it or he may not, and he just might take another approach if he does; but the ultimate success of the Coach is dependent upon the client's insight. The Coach's goal is the client's growth -- particularly as it is used in overcoming the challenges faced by the client.

In essence, the Coach acts as a lighthouse to illuminate what needs to be seen, and the ear to hear what's not being said. These are talents that have been developed over time by the Coach, and add immeasurably to the Coaching process.

There is no substitute for a Coach using astute listening skills, and asking perceptive questions while making insightful comments. These skills alone make up 90% of the Coach's skill set, but it's much like taking the wheel of a high- powered racecar; there is nothing like experience, timing, judgment and decision making in the moment.

The racecar driver, the professional ballplayer, and the CEO all use their senses to visualize what will happen next if they do this or if they do that, until it becomes instinctive. These are skills that need to be assimilated by a decision maker in 'real time,' because that is how business and life happen -- in 'real time.' And that's what we mean when we say he's using his 'third eye'. All leaders have it, and use it; the last thing they want is to be blind sided! In Coaching, we just emphasize the development of the third eye.

In the Executive Roundtable (, we use this approach in an interesting and highly effective way by isolating a pair of members in a dialogue, and facilitating comments along with follow-up discussions. Then, we bring in the contributions of other Roundtable members and incorporate their various perspectives, giving the group a rich environment for discussion and growth by sharing best practices.

Greater insight and self discovery are the results, culminating in a higher level of decision making and control. After all, you are in control; you are in the process of creating the life you want, and part of that is your life's work. A well developed 'third eye' will help you achieve that all-important goal.


The Author


Jerry Stein is CEO of the Executive Roundtable in Atlanta, GA. A motivational speaker and executive coach, he is recognized for his expertise in leadership development and personal performance. You can learn more about Jerry and his company's services at .

Many more articles in Coaching in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2007 by Jerry Stein. All rights reserved.

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