What is common to GE’s Jack Welch, IBM’s Sam Palmisanio, and e-Bay’s Meg Whitman? They all had to seek the expertise of an executive coach in order to strengthen their vision, performance and capacities. A Chicago Tribune article once quoted, ‘Who exactly seeks coaches – Winners who want even more out of life.’
Executive coaching has become more mainstream today. It is accepted as part of standard leadership development for elite executives and talented up-comers. It is a one-to-one collaboration between a certified coach and an executive, who wants to generate positive personal changes, inculcate greater adaptability, better his leadership skills, access new perspectives, and above all, reach maximum potential.
Executives should seek coaching “when they feel that a change in behaviour – either for themselves or their team members – can make a significant difference in the long-term success of the organisation,” says Marshall Goldsmith, coach to top executives in many of the world’s leading companies.
However, there are not enough professionals who can don the garb of a CEO coach. It was this lacuna which the CEE, at the ISB, wanted to address. An exclusive Executive Coaching Programme for senior professionals, who want to be CEO Coaches, was held at the ISB, between August 20 and 22. It is the first time that such a Programme is being conducted in India.
Said Deepak Chandra, Assistant Dean, CEE, at the ISB, “It was during a Leadership Skill Programme, conducted by the CEE, when we received a feedback about the felt need in the industry for a cadre of executive coaches. It was then we conceived this pioneering programme to help people, within or outside an organisation, to become good coaches.”
Speaking about the relevance of such a programme in the Indian context, Chandra said, “As a concept, Executive Coaching is still new in India. In our past, the Gurukul system was an example of a one-to-one coach for individual students. It was built on a deeper inter-personal relationship. In today’s world, the concept of hiring a personal guide and coach is not often possible. However, the growing complexity of businesses in this era of globalisation, has prompted senior management to counsel, seek, and simply talk to a person who can be an amalgam of a sounding board, a critic, a seer, a friend, etc.”
Usually CEO coaching focusses on three aspects – strategy, organisational change, and behavioural coaching. The Programme at the ISB concentrated only on behavioural change. The Programme aimed towards improvement of positive and measurable behaviour of the participants, by identifying specific behaviours to improve upon and choosing concrete methods of change. Coached by none other than Goldsmith himself, the Programme rested on Goldsmith’s favourite line– “The same beliefs that lead to our success can make it very difficult for us to change behaviour, and as difficult as it is to change our own behaviour, it is even more difficult to change others’ perception of our behaviour.” Goldsmith has been ranked by The Wall Street Journal as one of the top 10 executive educators. He is one of the foremost authorities on how to help leaders achieve positive, measurable changes in their own behaviour and in the behaviour of their people and teams.
Based on an empirically-tested method of executive coaching, Goldsmith devised a straightforward and highly effective process that has consistently delivered successful results across a large population of leaders in a broad spectrum of professions.
Goldsmith, during the programme, explained why leaders, who are becoming increasingly successful, can also face increased difficultly when they need to change. He discussed how the behaviour that led to their present level of success might not be the same behaviour that is needed to reach a higher level of success. Participants got to practice ‘feed forward’ – a positive, simple and focussed tool for development. Next, he shared the results of his research on leadership development that involved over 86,000 participants from eight major corporations. He also communicated his proven ‘pay only for results’ coaching process and taught participants how to use new applications of coaching – such as peer coaching – that have been proven to create better leaders. Participants also took part in various team-building exercises and learnt about ‘team building without time wasting.’ Said participant Vicki Nicholson, Managing Director, CW Solution Private Ltd, and an Executive Coach herself, “What stood out was the simplicity of Marshall’s approach. I got to learn how easy it is to apply a process like this and make a difference in terms of people’s behaviour.” Prasheel Pardhe, Assistant VP, HR, at Bennett and Coleman, vouched, “Marshall gave us tips about a positive way of looking at life – managing it for oneself and for others.”
The Programme saw a host of important portfolio holders from companies such as Raymond Ltd., Aditya Birla Management Corporation Ltd., Godrej India Ltd., HDFC Bank, etc.
Goldsmith rated the group as “more focussed on education” and having “more respect for the educator.” He however detected the group’s shortcoming of “over -analysing and over – complicating simple matters.”
As a parting shot, Goldsmith personally signed copies of his new best-seller on leadership development, ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,’ for each of the participant. Time to get there!