Interview with Peter Dupont, Managing Partner in March of 2016
What motivated you to coach CEOs?
After leading functional teams for decades, my move to CEO was shocking.
My 15 years as a CEO for three companies, each experiencing rapid growth or in substantial ‘transition’, meant fast change had to be envisioned and driven.
CEOs are expected to be super-human. It is a tough role in many ways including lack of access to the support, help, or expertise needed to be successful. One misconception I started with was that the Board of Directors would frequently be there to help with difficult issues. However, I learned that although board members may like to help, that’s not their role. Their role is to allocate capital to great companies, find, and hire leadership, and let the CEO go.
A critical “Aha” moment arrived when I joined a forum group of CEO peers through my membership in Young Presidents Organization.
Our closely-knit forum of 12 CEOs met for years one full day a month. We knew each other very well. Several members stood out head and shoulders above the others as leaders and as people; these are names you would recognize.
What I found was these highest performing CEOs were working 1:1 with coaches. They found direction, inspiration, and energy from their journey of perpetual growth and improvement. This ‘aha’ moment launched me on my own journey of development, and work with several executive coaches.
The common thread of the coaches I’ve worked is that great executive coaches are smart, intuitive, listen well, synthesize complex situations, provide succinct and direct (sometimes stinging) feedback.
I’ve noticed that executive coaches seem to have two different styles.
The first, “Leadership Coaches”, focus on leadership and interpersonal skills and behaviors. The goal of this coaching is to guide you as your leadership role continually evolves.
The second, “Business Coaches”, tended to focus on the business: strategy, strategic alignment, company culture, objectives, milestones, board management, and building the organization for rapid scale and superior performance.
Both kinds of coaches were incredibly valuable to me depending on what growth I needed to do at the time.
What I found especially powerful was that once we had built a high level of trust, EVERY topic got on the table at some point. We addressed even those things I was afraid to talk to myself about… or to admit to myself.
It takes maturity, humility, and perhaps courage to reach out and work extensively with a professional coach.
So, my motivation to jump to the other side, as a CEO and Senior Leader coach and advisor, is to bring to my clients two outcomes:
- A more effective and successful business leader;
- A better, nicer, more engaged and effective human being.
When do you have the most fun doing this work?
CEOs and their teams face lots of challenges. I have fun getting to know each person under many different circumstances. It’s rewarding and an honor to have earned mutual trust so we can all contribute, and come up with the best solution to their challenges.
Managing Partner at Four Bridges Advisory since 2004
Brentwood Associates/Stonebridge Partners Private Equity Operating Executive, 2000-2004
Kensington Technology Group, 1990-2000
Bankers’ Trust, 1985-1990
CBS, Inc. in various finance and marketing positions, 1975-1982
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, BA, Political Science, (1973)
Wharton Graduate School of Business-MBA Finance (1975).
Tennis, golf, bridge, skiing, investing, family.
Serving on boards of small or mid-cap sized private companies.