CEO Impact on Training and Consulting Projects

Often we are asked, “What are the factors that caused the difference between our successful and unsuccessful projects?”

While every project is different, we have been able to narrow it down to the mindset of the CEO and/or the executive team in that company. The reason we can say this with confidence is that the processes and principles we use have had consistent success for many years. The solutions we offer have been proven time and again, across many countries and in all industries. We try not to reinvent the wheel. The language and methods may be updated to current usage and mindsets, but the principles remain the same.

Just like the people who work for them, CEOs and leaders come in all different sizes, shapes, styles, and backgrounds. As you can imagine, those variations influence how their people behave, who they hire, the systems and processes they use, and the strength of the team they have around them, etc. Dave Kurlan of Objective Management Group put together a list of 10 ways some CEOs react to recommendations he makes about their sales force. They are exactly the typical answers we’ve heard from the CEOs and seniors regarding unsuccessful projects of all types:

#1 – “Thank you for your advice. I’m not comfortable with that.” Who says that you have to be COMFORTABLE? You have to do the right thing for your company!

#2 – “I’m not quite ready for that. How about if we do that in six months?” This is a less honest version of #1 – at least be straight with me!

#3 – “Whatever you say. You’re the expert.” This tends to work out a lot like #1. Yes, they agree with whatever I say but are no stronger with management than with me and can’t drive change.

#4 – “This is B*ll S*it. They’re just going to have to do what you say, right now, or they’re gone.” That’s the spirit, but it isn’t driving change. You can’t pound people with a sledgehammer to drive change, you have to inspire them to change.

#5 – “Let me see if I can get some consensus for this.” Oh-oh, this isn’t going to work. You never get consensus from people who don’t want change in the first place!

#6 – “OK. Let’s talk about how we’re going to accomplish that, given our challenges.” Much better! At least we’re going to talk about how we can implement…

#7 – “Great – can YOU deliver that message for me?” This is even worse than #5!

#8 – “I’m not going to drive this. One of my senior managers will have to drive this.” OK, how many years are you willing to wait to find a genius who finds value in this AND isn’t threatened by it or me?

#9 – “Why aren’t my people doing what they’re supposed to do?” Because you have to be strong enough to tell them that it’s a condition of continued employment rather than quietly sitting there, not saying a thing, and expecting something to change!

#10 – I don’t want to do it your way. I think it should be done my way instead.” Ah, excuse me, but isn’t that the same way you were doing it for the last 10 years – and it didn’t work then either?

While Dave did not mean to paint a picture that depicts CEOs as the problem, in some companies, they are the problem. In 9 of the 10 examples he described above they were the problem. So if you are a CEO or know one, what should you do when getting help for your sales organization?

Understand that change begins in the company not with the consultant or trainer. The job of the consultant or trainer is to provide process, systems, knowledge or tools that can help YOU change your culture. The consultant or trainer can help the leader identify thought processes that are getting in the way. It is the senior leadership’s responsibility to show their organization that they are committed to making these changes to their thought processes to drive results – even if it is not comfortable! If you have an open mind and are committed to change, then your people will step up.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert that works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To contact Howard Shore please call 305.722.7213 or email him at