Article: The 'seek' rather than 'tell' style: Smita Affinwalla

Learning & Development

The 'seek' rather than 'tell' style: Smita Affinwalla

Smita Affinwala, Head - Consulting, DDI, talks about the concept of Executive coaching in India
The 'seek' rather than 'tell' style: Smita Affinwalla

How matured is the concept of ‘Executive Coaching’ in India?

While it is a very old concept (the word guru in in effect a coach!) the industry itself is at a fairly low level of maturity. The reason I say that is that a mature industry has best practices, processes, measurement techniques etc. well established. Today the word coaching with respect to the corporate world could mean anything from performance monitoring to life counseling and everything in between, with little standard process or measurement.

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

The role of a coach is to catalyze skills, talents or behaviors in a person to help him/her be more effective on the job. It contributes to business productivity by enhancing engagement and efficacy for the person being coached as well as for the team/peers of the coachee. Coaching is useful and required typically for the management of personality aspects or for the development of behaviors that are unique to a particular individual and his/her context.

How well is this understood by companies?

I believe that understanding of coaching is different for different companies. Overall it is perhaps misunderstood and seen to be a panacea to all ills rather than the facilitation of improvement, which is what it actually is.

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

The style that works best for me is the ‘seek’ rather than ‘tell’ style which allows a person the freedom of reaching conclusions that will work well for him/her best. This should be supported by a high degree of structure around the execution of the engagement as well as measurement of the outcomes. Working to a time bound, measurable plan always works for me. It helps also to have some process tension in the mix in the form of KRAs or similar tools.

What are the other methodologies in Coaching?

The other widely used methodology is the ‘friend, philosopher, guide’ approach which is used by many individual coaches.

And how do organization know which methodology will work best for their purpose?

Unfortunately despite a degree of due diligence that many organizations do it is often a case of trial and error. Many organizations get into coaching engagements based on word of mouth references without going deep enough into the methodology to be used, execution plan and measurement criteria, on the assumption that it will somehow “help”

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

The top 3 challenges are receptivity to feedback of the coachee, taking action on insights gained or development plans created through the coaching intervention and measurement of results.

What is the future of coaching in India?

I believe it is a space that will grow, but I also believe it will not solve half the leadership problems of the market. Effective leadership development happens when a wide mix of developmental actions happen within the specified time frame.

Smita Affinwalla is Head of Consulting, DDI India

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

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