Avinash Kirpal, International Management Institute, New Delhi
“In every field of human endeavour in which performance is key, coaching is integral to helping shift an individual’s mindset, approaches, and behaviour to ensure more effective action and greater business success.”
National Aeronautics and Space Administration -Report. 24. Dec 2002. -E. Saxinger (NASA Work/Life Program Manager)
Many Indian corporate leaders and senior executives are aware that in these times of rapid change what is required from them has less to do with their skills in the techno-commercial strategic areas and more to do with their skills in encouraging creativity, innovation and team-building. Often corporate leaders know what needs to be done to adapt to changing business environments and this is not their main challenge. Their main challenge is to get their teams, and themselves, to do what needs to be done. This involves working on their own mindsets as well as the mindsets of their teams through leadership and motivation. Yet few have received guidance on how to improve their skills in this area.
Like other skills these too can be developed through learning. However this learning cannot be acquired from short-term training programmes or from attending lectures, or even from reading books. Studies have revealed that any benefit from this type of training does not last. It lacks follow-up, direct application and continued guidance. The learning that is required needs to be focused on specific needs, followed up over a period of time and based on actual experiences. It is a learning which perpetuates itself on feedback. It needs to be on the job and experiential. This is where corporate coaching comes into the picture.
The Public Personnel Management Association Journal (Winter 97, Vol. 26 Issue 4,) quotes a study which showed that training alone increased productivity by about 22% while training plus coaching increased productivity by 88%.
Executive coaching as a specialised discipline has been flourishing in the United States for over twenty years. “For years, CEOs of some of the most successful and largest companies have relied on executive coaches. Henry McKinnell, CEO of Pfizer, Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay, and David Pottruck, CEO of Charles Schwab & Co., are a few who rely on a trusted adviser.” (The Business Journal. Nov. 2002.) Coaching is gaining popularity in the UK and other mature market economies where corporations face the full blast of international competition. Research studies in these countries show spectacular improvements in performance after executive coaching.
In India corporate leaders had been slow in taking to coaching, probably because it was (mistakenly) viewed as an admission that the management is lacking in some attributes. However it is now being appreciated that in fact coaching provides an opportunity to strengthen developmental attributes and hence performance. It is noted, for instance, that all top sports people use coaches to improve their performance, though they already perform very well. In fact where talent already exists the benefits from coaching are multiplied. With this realisation dawning in the corporate world here the use of coaching is catching on in India as well. Management training institutions and consultancy firms are now offering executive coaching. They have the expertise in different functional and behavioural areas; also through national and international networks they access the most relevant talent for the coaching exercise.