"My wife's driving increasingly alarms me but attempts to discuss it with her meet with her hostility". These are not my words I hasten to add but those of a husband seeking advice from a problem page. "A trip with her at the wheel feels uncomfortable and erratic boarding on the reckless at times". "She shows scant regard for the speed limits is easily distracted and makes me very nervous". Your partners driving skills are a sensitive topic everyone thinks they are a good driver no one wants to be told they are not. "I am sure she would benefit from an advanced driving course". Now change partner for boss and driving skills for management skills.
This is why 360 degree feedback to senior managers doesn't provide much that is critical or helpful. Who is going to tell the chief executive/head of department that he/she is a poor public speaker, that his attempts at humour are ill judged or that most staff distrust him following u turns that were made during the last restructuring. Senior managers rarely get honest feedback yet the best managers to work for and the most effective have insight into how their behaviour effects others. This is what executive coaching offers. An independent skilled observer sitting in on a variety of meetings seeing how a manager interacts in a range of work situations and then giving them detailed feedback and some homework to improve their skills. Executive coaching isn't just for senior managers all managers will benefit from improving their people skills and gaining grater insight into their behaviour. Of course it's intense and expensive so tends only to be offered to senior managers, then again the cost of poor management is even more expensive.
Blair McPherson author of Equipping managers for an uncertain future published by Russell House which contains a detailed case example of executive coaching in a large organisation www.blairmcpherson.co.uk