Executive Coaching in India- lets make it a larger movement
Over the last few years as Business and Leadership Coaches, we realized that in India the whole concept of Coaching as a strong leadership and self development tool has not yet emerged as a natural approach. And possibly still carries a stigma and doubt in the minds of the potential individuals – am I quite not up there yet?
Recently 2 leaders from diverse industries, roles and locations reached out directly to me here to understand about coaching and how it works. And what was pleasant was that they wanted to do so and pay on their own and use this as a developmental tool to confront their “barriers to growth” as professionals and as individuals. One has already started the journey and nice to hear his words – ” I felt a great amount of comfort even though it was our 1st session. I liked the analogies/examples that you gave from your other coachees, it gave me some idea about how things could pan out. I also loved the holistic approach, the holistic health checklist gave a good picture of where the imbalance exists. I am feeling excited about this process and look forward to this journey with you.”
A typical response we come across when Management or HR shortlists leaders for Coaching is “why ME? “ And the disturbing thoughts fleet through some minds – Something wrong with me? Am I on the watch list? Why have only a few of us been chosen? Is there a hidden management agenda? I have been there done that, so what is a Coach going to do? Why do I need to open up and reveal my weaknesses and insecurities to a stranger?
It is only when one explains what Coaching is all about, the process of self reflection, self awareness build up, 360 feedforward, building on one’s strengths and fine tuning the development areas and the role a Coach plays that they realize that it does not carry any negative connotation. Examples of Roger Federer or Sachin or the top sports teams and athletes having Coaches settle the issue once and for all 🙂
In an interview with Fortune some years ago, Google CEO Eric Schmidt had this to say about coaching and everybody’s need for a coach:
“Every famous athlete, every famous performer has somebody who’s a coach. Somebody who can watch what they’re doing and say, “Is that what you really meant? Did you really do that?” They can give them perspective. The one thing people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them. A coach really, really helps.”
Our experiences with over 40 Coachees across industries and across levels from CEO, Board members to mid level managers, team leaders, business owners etc have shown what a powerful tool this can be.
And how using a structured Coaching approach of questioning, challenging and patient listening can help the Coachee reflect, become more self aware, help narrow down and define the Goals that are most important to them professionally and personally and work on them step by step.
We have had a number of interesting case studies from our Business or Leadership Coaching approaches – individuals who were not interested at first or who do not realize they need coaching. Sharing some interesting feedback snippets from them after a few eye opening sessions just to give a flavor of the impacts they felt along the way.
From a 50 + senior leader who initially felt it was too late to change and felt Coaching was nice but not for people like him. “Though initially I was apprehensive at the time of Introduction to Coaching, my Management’s faith in me dissolved all my inhibitions. Starting from Session 1, I have been able to delve deep and share all my experiences, fears and joy with my coach effortlessly. Personally, keeping in mind the 360 feed-back, I tried things which I would normally not bother about.
From a woman founder CEO of a firm – “Yes, the coaching journey has been amazing so far and an eye opener. I am glad that I took it up and I’m now enjoying and looking forward to the sessions! Since I started this journey there has been something to take back home every week, some change that I could notice in myself, growth at every opportunity and I am happy about it “
What is common in each of these cases despite their diversity in age and gender and positions has been the change, an opening of the mind, confronting the self limiting beliefs and cobwebs clouding one’s mind and taking ownership of the journey of change to drive business results or personal pursuits. And also they are towards the end able to capture the benefits to themselves and their team and organization and circle of influence quite easily.
Sadly very few Corporate executives come forward on their own for Coaching and expect the organization to take the lead here. A lot of large organisations still tend to see Training or Executive programs for their leaders as the most logical box to tick and to be budgeted. While they are good and interactive and needed, they are mostly driven top down, provide a good offsite break and some bonding but the key take aways often get lost in the day to day pressures soon after the programs.
The process is many organisations is far too selective and restricted and in many corporates with even 1000 + employees that we come across Coaching has never been done before but they are now exploring the option and getting started with a few select leaders– a good step forward!
Organisations that are more progressive and forward looking can benefit from taking a hard look at the cost benefit analysis of personalized 1on 1 Coaching along with all the other tangible and intangible benefits that accrue from this approach vis a vis the more conventional learning and development methods used even for a larger canvas of mid level future leaders across locations.
Given that till last year, a lot of our focus as Mentors and Coaches was on the SMB sector /owner driven companies/ Entrepreneurial leaders we see that the value is seen and felt much faster in this category. The day will come when this stage also gets reached by the larger organisations competing to not just get business growth, but to retain key leadership talent, market shares and product innovation leadership.
And with our focus now more on corporate Coaching for over a year we are seeing the change unravelling using technology as an aid too to handle coachees across India and the world. We have seen how powerful a retention tool also it can be when a functional leader or a hipot is told about the management decision to invest in their development and individual growth and when Coaching is positioned as a sign of confidence in them taking on larger and more complex assignments going forward.
The day when more professionals and business owners proudly spread the word and wear a badge that I have “ Been Coached, done that “ and am now ready to take on the world with a new pair of eyes will be the day when we can say yes – Coaching has arrived here too 🙂
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