What the World Needs Now… (Part 3 of 4) By Wendy Johnson

Posted by WABC

In the previous two articles of this four-part series, I highlighted the increasing worldwide influence of business and the impact of globalization on current and future business practices.

In this issue, I address the role of Business Coaching in response to those forces. Although these issues are not entirely new--surely many Westerners were a bit disheveled when trade routes were opened to the East centuries ago--what's important to understand is the pace of these advancements and the impact they have on individuals.

So, how can a business coach make a difference?

  • Business coaches facilitate strategic thinking. Business coaching is the strategic arm in a three-pronged business support system, along with outside legal and financial advisors. Businesses and individuals in today's competitive marketplace have little margin for error in decision making. This fast-paced environment increases the necessity for strategic thinking to keep individuals and organizations moving into the future with focus and precision.
  • Business coaches encourage critical thinking. Leaders who engage business coaches use them as sounding boards as well as "personal business partners." Business coaches differ from consultants in that their purpose is not to "fix" a particular issue in which they have specific expertise, but rather to engage the individuals within the organization and facilitate sustainable solutions that impact the whole business.
  • Business coaches listen and ask powerful questions. Professional protocol often inhibits individuals within an organization from challenging or "bouncing ideas" off one another, especially in a direct reporting structure. CEOs and senior executives expect ideas to be presented when they're "complete," not "in progress." Yet direct reports have few resources to help them develop ideas, particularly in a competitive work environment. Likewise, direct reports expect CEOs and senior executives to provide direction and solutions, rather than to vacillate or "think out loud." Because business coaches have no vested interest other than their clients' success, they provide a safe and professional environment for individuals to develop, plan, and polish their ideas.
  • Business coaches facilitate change. One generation ago, it was common for an employee to stay with one employer for an entire career. It was also common for businesses to have a steady, loyal customer base, and for businesses in turn to stay loyal and committed to dependable vendors. Today, however, none of those norms are true. Employees change frequently. Customer loyalty is rarely exclusive. Vendors are asked to submit new contracts each year to simply maintain their current client base. Business coaches work with individuals and teams to manage the impact of constant and rapid change.
  • Business coaches help assimilate information. Progressive theorists suggest that we are moving out of the information age and into the knowledge age, where the emphasis will not simply be on how much information one has, but on how well that information is assimilated. Business coaches help individuals stay focused on their values and goals so that they can rapidly filter information and act on what is in alignment with their overall objectives.
  • Business coaches promote balance. Businesses cannot be resilient if their people are not resilient. Human resource and organizational development professionals have documented well the impact of personal development on professional productivity. Business coaches work with individuals to identify personal values, purpose, and future goals, and then motivate them to integrate those into their professional lives. In a rapidly changing environment, people often put personal needs on hold "until they get through this bump"; however, rapid change means frequent bumps. Individuals not consciously managing their personal growth become resentful, frustrated, and unproductive.

I remember a commercial a few years ago that so accurately depicts the needs of individuals in our fast-paced era of business globalization. The commercial was one in which a driver pulled up to a service window and ordered "more time." In an environment where people are pushed to perform consistently at peak levels, under constant change and intense competition, business coaching in essence gives you "more time."

Wendy Johnson, MA, CEC, CMC is the full-time president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC). Johnson's vision is a business coach working with every business, organization and government. Learn more about WABC at http://www.wabccoaches.com. Wendy may be reached by email at presceo@wabccoaches.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.

Coaching in the Land of Gurus and Soothsayers, By Gopal Shrikanth

Posted by WABC

Take the highest per-capita ratio of gurus and soothsayers; add a liberal dose of retired corporate honchos who love to give free advice; spice it up with availability of cutting-edge gizmos for professionals; stir it up with families that determine financial priorities and you are very brave to call yourself a coach in a society where "coaching" is normally prescribed for drop-outs!

As in ancient Greece, Rome and China, India had its share of historical "royal coaches" like Krishna and Chanakya, whose wisdom is enshrined in the Gita and Arthashastra. These ancient "case studies" are still analyzed by MBAs and corporate leaders at business schools and research institutes.1

The ancient system of higher education across all trades was a form of apprenticeship known as the "Guru-Sishya" model. The philosophy behind this concept was that "nuances and finesse" were learned by patience, listening, observation and practice. There has been a systematic exchange of ideas between East and West on psychology, sociology and related topics at least from the 19th century. My grandfather, who graduated from Oxford in the 1920s, left behind a library of Western literature on such topics.

I'm not sure whether there is widespread awareness in the West that India has made such rapid strides over the last two decades in adopting and propagating Western management practices. Developed over the course of its quest to cater to global clients, India now boasts some of the world's highest concentrations of International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Capability Maturity Model (CMM), People Capability Maturity Model (PCMM), Six Sigma, Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) and Project Management Professional (PMP) certified trainers and professionals. Global organizations such as Franklin Covey, the Goldratt Institute, and the de Bono Group have a significant presence, offering certifications and training at local prices.

Executive Coaching in India

Let's now move on to the current status of executive coaching across different groups in India.

For decades, multinationals have leveraged their global learning programs, delivering from regional hubs such as Australia and the UK to develop local leaders. Development programs for teams were led by line- and human-resource managers who had attended a train-the-trainer program. In the recent past, the trend was to send high-performing executives to open-enrollment executive education programs at business schools in the US or to custom programs at business schools in India. In-house programs by Covey, de Bono and Bullet Proof Manager were organized for mid-level executives. Interestingly, multinational corporations (MNCs) currently rely on their global coaching partners to roll out executive coaching in India, who in turn engage Indian coaches! I would therefore encourage international coaches to leverage their contacts in India to explore local cost-effective solutions.

On the other hand, founder CEOs of family-owned corporations have for decades leveraged their alumnus links with global management gurus of Indian origin, such as Ram Charan, C.K. Prahalad and Vijay Govindarajan, while leveraging annual visits to India by gurus such as Marshall Goldsmith. Having gained from such interactions, most of these founders have sent their children to Ivy League business schools in the US to earn MBAs. Such companies will probably largely leverage professors from both US and Indian business schools for cost-effective and just-in-time solutions. Executive coaching assignments for direct reports (or even the next level) to CEO are likely to be won by established local experts with a business track record. Given that there are very few local coaches who are credentialed, this presents a huge opportunity for global English-speaking coaches who are willing to travel to India for short durations for organization-wide rollouts. Needless to say, the compensation for mid-level coaches is likely to be on par with US rates!

Entrepreneurs, supported by private equity and/or venture capital, often realize the need for trusted advisors (to serve as sounding boards) and an executive coach (to help them handle day-to-day challenges in finance, marketing and human resources, and to regain control of their start-ups as they grow rapidly). Although this appears to be a clear case for local experts, there is a significant opportunity for global coaches as these start-ups expand into other geographies. For instance, web/tele-calls and face-to-face meetings in the US and Europe are likely to become the norm in the near future.

As for self-driven high-potential executives, they are likely to seek out specialized coaches to help them fill gaps, and may be most open to web/tele-coaching. Given the time difference between the US, UK, Australia and India, global coaches may be able to supplement their income from the comfort of their own homes. It is not uncommon to find such executives often missing company-sponsored group sessions deliberately.

Executive coaching seems set to boom in India over the next few years. The million dollar question: Are you getting ready for it?

Disclaimer: These are solely the personal views of the author and are not the findings of any scientific study.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide ( 2009, Volume 5, Issue 1). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

1 See the Vedanta Cultural Foundation, page 3, Section Corporate Guru.

Gopal "GD" Shrikanth is Columbia University's first "Advanced Coach" from India and was initiated by Marshall Goldsmith. An alumnus of Wharton and IIM-B, Gopal has a leadership track record across IT, financial and manufacturing multinational corporations. Find more about Gopal in the WABC membership directory and www.gopalshrikanth.com. Contact Gopal.
If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.