Article: Executive coaching must be owned by the top: Radhika Gopalakrishnan

Learning & Development

Executive coaching must be owned by the top: Radhika Gopalakrishnan

Executive coaching is usually long-term in nature and therefore poses a great challenge in gauging its impact on immediate business productivity

When is executive coaching most effective?

While we were apprehensive that executive coaching will not work in the case of owner-promoter companies which are driven by technocrats, we realized it worked very well when the agenda was owned by the top. When the decision to adopt executive coaching is led from the top and there is a clear and strong conviction that the organization will stand to gain if they bring about the required 2-3 changes in the context of the new business requirement, it seems to work best. So it is very important to have a very strong business case for executive coaching to create the right impact. Thereafter it is important for one to constantly review the coaching exercise.

How matured is the concept of executive coaching in India?

Executive Coaching in India is not matured at all and in most cases it has been viewed more as remedial in nature which is not correct.

What is the role of a coach? How does it contribute to business productivity? When is coaching useful/required?

Contribution of coaching to business is usually long-term in nature and therefore it poses a great challenge as it is difficult to gauge the impact of executive coaching on immediate business productivity. The role of the coach is to constantly help the individual identity his/her positive points and help them evolve as better individuals who are able to deliver greater business value. Coaching is most effective when there is a 50-50 ownership from the coach and the coachee. There must be commitment from the coachee to change as required and the coach in turn must be committed to providing the coachee with the right support.

What is the ‘coaching style’ that you have adopted and why does it work best for you?

Being a part of a larger organization, AON Hewitt, we adhere to a process which involves group sessions and is a team intervention. We aim to address the individual and team issue together as we believe in coaching teams together to collectively raise the bar.

What are the other methodologies in Coaching? And how do organization know which methodology will work best for their purpose?

Coaching has different methodologies depending on the requirement – such as technical or behavioral. It is about teams working together and looking ahead. It is not corrective but aligning individuals to the vision. Large organizations often tend to chose a brand as individual coaches have limited bandwidth.

What are the challenges in ensuring success of a Coaching exercise?

The challenges are many. If the top team is not convinced about the impact of executive coaching it will falter. Further, it is important for the organization to communicate the essence of executive coaching and leaders must lead by example. If the leaders do not actively participate in the process, it tends to lose its importance as results are not immediate and therefore leading to a complete lapse. There are also the challenges of ensuring all stakeholders in the organization support through positive reinforcement. Often there is a gap between the coach-coachee relationship and what the individual otherwise experiences in the organization.

Many times, a challenge in the case of CEO coaching arises when a new CEO is inducted bringing in a lot of confusion and insecurities that nullifies the impact of executive coaching aimed at building a leadership pipeline.

What is the future of coaching in India?

Coaching in India is needed. As Indian organization scale up, it is important for them to replicate their efforts. The more they are able to create bandwidth across the organization, the more successful they will be. Today it is not just about the national footprint but also about the global footprint. Organizations have to evolve to learn how to optimize on diversity, replicate as they scale and manage global workforce. And to make all this possible, executive coaching will play a critical role in the future. 

Radhika Gopalakrishnan is Director, Leadershtip Consulting, AON Hewit

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Topics: Learning & Development, Leadership, C-Suite, #HRIndustry

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