How matured is the concept of ‘Executive Coaching’ in India?
Before we dwell on the concept of coaching, one must understand that ‘coaching’ is a helping relationship which is set in a business context. It is a situation where someone with experience is trying to help someone in need.
Therefore, there is a need to understand how we in India seek help. Traditionally, in India a common practice is to seek help from an informal source i.e. family, an ex-boss, friend etc. We do not live in a culture where we are open to seeking professional help like in the West where on an average; every individual would have taken professional help at some point in life. It is important to understand this perspective in India. So it a helping relationship approach that coaching must take. The business model in India is different from the west though many have not recognized that need and many coaches tend to deploy the same practice in India and try to assess the ROI of each session. But the model in India must be different and this approach does not work, the focus needs to more on the coach’s ability to deliver benefit to the coachee in the course of the relationship.
Further, in the west, coaches refrain from giving advice, but in India the rule is different. We sometimes even give advice, if it is well-timed and the recipient is willing to receive the advice, there is no harm. Infact, coachees expect that some wisdom is passed on to them.
The coaching profession is evolving in India and there is an oversupply of coaches on paper because there are many who undergo a 2-4 days coaching program but they are not getting any work. Clients want people who have experience so these coaches are left frustrated.
So the core issue lies in not understanding the ‘help-seeking’ nature of Indians and on the supply side, there are many coaches who do not know what it takes to be a coach.
What is the role of Coaching? How does it contribute to business productivity?
The confusion is on what it takes to be a coach. A coach must have both skills and the contextual understanding. Often a CEO with experience in an execution role is a critical requirement because he understands the business context of the coachee.
In India, people are faced with businesses of large size, with is operationally spread and witnessing a 20-30% growth. As a result of the exponential growth, functional managers are being pushed into leadership roles. So a Head of Sales becomes a Business Head but continues to act as a Head of Sales because he has not been developed to move into the new role. Coaching in India is driven to a large extent by the dramatic growth in businesses and the resultant demand for people to be able to provide significantly superior leadership for these businesses.
Research also shows that Coaching in India is about enabling assertiveness, claiming once place, thinking strategically, seeing the big picture, etc which are recurring themes that emerge as gaps in the present system.
What is the ‘Coaching style’ that you have adopted and why does it work best for you?
Successful coaches like to claim that they follow a particular model that makes them good. The universal truth about a coach is that you must be there for the coachee and ensure that he/she continues to improve. A coach must not judge the coachee, must trust, accept and help him/her find the answers. For this, a coach must have the skills required to coach and must have a holistic approach to ensure that change is sustainable. It is important that all coaches master the science of coaching and address the complete human being when coaching. Over and above that, each coach will have a personal influence through their own individual style.
What are the other methodologies in Coaching? And how do organization know which methodology will work best for their purpose?
There are 3-4 genres in coaching. Executive Coaching is when a company hires an external coach for their senior people. Internal Coaching is when an organization tries to identify some select internal leaders and trains them to act as internal coaches. These internal coaches work with people who are identified as top talent. Thereafter, (this is expected from all managers) managers are expected to be coaching-oriented in their daily managerial styles.
In India, bodies like CII, NASSCOM and TIE offer some form of business coaching or mentoring services to young entrepreneurs (usually SMEs and first generation entrepreneurs) who are technocrats who have established a business idea but need coaching to help scale the business. Business coaching usually entails business plan, how to talk to investors, shaping strategy etc.
Business coaching is a part of executive coaching but involves more on growing the business.
What are the challenges in ensuring success of a Coaching exercise?
For a coach, the challenge is in being able to take a very professional view and invest in adding value to the profession and uphold the image of the profession. In India there are many retired CEOs who are also coaches and because of their experience, they are more credible and skilled. Therefore, the coaches who become so by virtue of a professional course are required to match the level of the existing coaches.
Another challenge is the absence of a Policy on Coaching in organizations today. The policy is required to clarify details of coaching exercise in terms of level of coaching, degree of interference or independence, empanelled coaches etc. This needs to be championed by the CEO and there is a need of increasing awareness about the need for coaching among business leaders and HR as they would together need to formulate the policy. A coaching policy should address things like who needs coaching? Who are ideal coaches? How coaching relationships will be set up? How much confidentiality will be required? What are the needs for which coaching will be deployed and so on.
What is the future of coaching in India?
The future of coaching in India is led by the huge leadership gap in the country. Coaching will play a crucial role in shaping that. Also, coaching cannot exist in a vacuum, and coaching will become a requirement across all levels as this ‘helping relationship’ is required as much at the frontline and middle management, as it is in the senior management level. Therefore, going forward a lot of work will take place within organizations in terms of how they create the internal experience for all employees.