In recent years, executive coaching has started to make its presence felt in India as well, with country’s top honchos seeking professional help. However, there aren’t enough professionals in India who are equipped to don the garb of a CEO coach. Sighting the opportunity, the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business (ISB) plans to launch a study programme to train CEO coaches.
Says Deepak Chandra, assistant dean of the Centre for Executive Education, ISB, “Judging from our interaction with corporates and the feedback we got from some of our leadership programmes which involved individualised coaching for small groups of managers, we realised that there is a huge need for executive coaching in India.”
Slated to be held in August, ISB’s executive coaching programme will be conducted by Goldsmith, one of the world’s best-known executive coaches. Goldsmith has been ranked by the Wall Street Journal as one of the world’s Top 10 executive educators.
The programme will be open to senior professionals who want to become CEO coaches. “We are looking at both independent coaches as well as people within the company, like senior HR leaders and CEOs, who need help on coaching,” says Chandra.
Usually CEO coaching focusses on three aspects: Behavioural coaching, organisational change and strategy. ISB’s programme will focus only on affecting behavioural change.
The idea being that the behaviours that have made a leader successful may not be the same behaviours needed for future success. So Goldsmith will explain why leaders who are becoming successful can also face difficultly when they need to change, and he will give tips to participants on methods of coaching. The programme will initially start with a batch 30 execs.
While executive coaching is seen as a fad by some, no one can deny the value that comes from hiring one. Says Satish Pradhan, executive V-P, group HR, Tata Sons, “The fact is that a CEO is very lonely. And having someone who can share that space, be realistic and provide guidance is extremely important.”
However, there are possible pitfalls too. Says Pradhan, “The risk that you run with an executive coach is that they can also become like Linus’s comfort blanket: nice to have, functionally of no value, but just leaves you with a good feeling. But that is worthwhile too.”
There is a second risk too which stems from who gets to become a coach. Says Pradhan, “In a managerial context, a coach is someone who can actually process-enable rather than content-enable a manager. But at a CEO level, content becomes important: so have you walked in similar shoes for a period of time to know what hurts and what doesn’t? That ‘been there and lived through some of it’ becomes a very important part of the ability of the coach to help the CEO.”
So in a sense, this is really more of a kind of “mentor coach” rather than a “coach coach”. “It is difficult to think of someone who has had less width of experience to be able to coach a CEO than someone who has a much wider experience,” says Pradhan.