What does it take to coach right at the top of an organisation? CEOs can find themselves in a lonely place, lacking an honest sounding board and critical challenge. They can become locked into the busy-ness that goes with this most demanding of senior roles. It’s easy to let short-term pressure for the business to perform get in the way of longer-term strategic thinking, succession planning, developing talent and building a legacy. The right coach can enable CEOs to strike the balance and offer an independent sounding board free from sticky organisational politics, alongside the appropriate mix of support and challenge. If the CEO has a tough job, the position of coach to the CEO is also an exacting one. It requires a hard-headed understanding of the commercial context in which the CEO operates, a clear grasp of the responsibilities they shoulder and the gravitas to command the trust of senior business leaders.
As CEO of Alexander, a leading provider of senior level coaching and top team development, John Ainley is a seasoned coach and advisor to CEOs of many of the UK’s largest companies. Having had a 30-year executive career himself, serving as a member of the executive committees of 3 FTSE 100 organisations (WH Smith plc, Norwich Union plc and Aviva plc), he has swum in the same choppy waters as his clients. He is plain speaking, saying what he believes to be true, but always with care for the receiver. Never frightened to ask questions about the whole person, John moves beyond the simple and straightforward to the more complex aspects of what’s really going on.
John is currently a Trustee of the Bloomsbury Festival, a free cultural celebration that draws 50,000 people annually.