Business leaders turn coaches for young managers (Economic Times : 10th December )

NEW DELHI: In the last one year, a bunch of industry leaders in the country have turned certified mentors and coaches.

Take the case of RPG Group’s technology businesses president & CEO Pradipta Mahapatra. He is now a certified master coach from the Behavioural Coaching Institute, UK. Similarly, Totus Consulting MD Ganesh Chella has trained in Australia, Elgi Equipments MD Jairam Varadaraj, and HP’s G Inbavanan have become trained business coaches. So did former Sify chairman and the current president of TIE’s Chennai chapter R Ramaraj, who became a coach six months back. There are many others following suit.

So much so, the rising demand for good coaches led Mahapatra and Chella to set up an institute — Executive & Business Coaching Foundation — to train and produce coaches. The institute is now into its second batch, the first programme having already trained and certified 12 coaches including CEOs, MDs and other business leaders. “There’s a clear paucity of good coaches in India,” says Mahapatra. “And we have a programme for business leaders who love sharing their knowledge and experiences.”

Though a new trend in India, business coaching as a profession is fast catching on for several reasons. Youngsters today take on higher responsibilities early on in their career and require the support and mentoring from people who are experienced and understand their needs at that level. Private equity funds, which are increasingly investing in big ventures, also want young entrepreneurs to get the much-needed support. More than that, the need for senior guys to discuss their problems and challenges has given rise to the demand for coaches who are at par with them and are better placed to understand their dilemmas.

In the West, US for instance, coaching is one of most sought after and lucrative profession fetching a fee of anything between $200-500 per hour. Ramaraj of TiE, who became a certified coach six months back and is a senior advisor for Sequoia Capital India, feels that only those individuals who have the zeal and aptitude to coach could justify this kind of a job. “I interact with youngsters a lot and get to hear about a lot of ideas. If I am able to help them even a bit with my experience, I will be happy,” he says.

Though mentoring and coaching has always been a part of a leaders’ job, in a changed paradigm, it has taken on a whole new meaning. While there’s a crucial need for businesses to coach people and bosses, they are constrained on resources and time. This has opened up a great deal of scope for an external coach or someone who can provide time and has the expertise to deal with various issues.

“Today, a boss has less time to listen to his or her subordinates and to take it to a personal level is like asking for too much of the person,” says Mahapatra. “Hence, it helps to get people who have the interest as well as expertise to be a coach and mentor. And who could be better for that role than business leaders themselves, who have seen the ups and downs of businesses.”

Besides, an increasingly global work environment and lack of people for senior executives to talk to, about their problem, too makes room for individuals who have the interest to take on the task. “Expat leaders are coming to India in hordes and taking up the challenge to understand a new work environment and a diverse culture,” says G Inbavanan of HP.

“They need the support and a coach, who has seen the business closely, would be a better option for him. Same for the senior leaders who need people to confide in, but can only trust those who are at par.”

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Author: Shalini Verma

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