Times Ascent Online- Executive Coaching: A rage! Cover Story

Sheetal Srivastava

There’s been a need for executive coaching in India for a long time. More-so now than ever before because of the pace of change in the corporate world and people’s expectations from their work.

Given the talent crunch that most HR managers complain about, specially at a senior level, executive coaching helps address a need which is hugely resonant among CEOs and top-level managers. Also, research often highlights that a “bad/uninspiring” boss is the most frequently cited reason for people quitting. Executive coaching helps develop “good/inspiring bosses”.

In fact, it helps in the transition of people from being bosses to coaches, who urge their teams to deliver. Says Radhakrishnan B Menon, managing director, LBW (Leadership in Business Worldwide) Consulting, “Normally focused on senior leaders and high potentials, coaching can improve leadership skills and team performance.” He further adds, “Eventually it generates high performing teams. Best results are achieved when coaching is aligned with business strategy.”

India is fast leaping into a new generation of economy, where the proliferation of new industries and the expansion of the existing ones has led to an unprecedented demand for highly skilled/experienced talent. With investments in these businesses at an all time high, the dependence on people performance has shot up dramatically.

The methods used to nurture talent base need to be in synch with the new dynamics. Today’s professional has changed from the earlier generations. He is far more aware of the unprecedented choice of job and career options. He therefore, looks for meaning beyond the hygiene factors of compensation. It is thus, critical to understand this professional to enable the organisation to leverage his true potential. 

“Coaching worldwide has managed to be a critical intervention in connecting best with the new- age professional, and India seems to be ripe for a similar movement,” avers Abhijit Pradhan, founder & chief explorer, Superstar Business Solutions.

“Businesses also need new and innovative strategies more than ever to succeed in the market place of today. Executive coaching can prime their most important assets – to take up that challenge,” adds Pradhan.

So how does executive coaching help drive an organisation’s business objective? Coaching helps create OWNERSHIP within key talent. It then helps the candidate translate that ownership into ACTION. All this is under the ambit of the overall organisational business goals. Coaching is sensitive to business realities and helps the individual find his answers and strategy in achieving those goals.

“Coaching is based on the belief that people have great potential and that they achieve what they believe. With this in mind, executive coaching is offered to senior people in the corporate world with the overall purpose of utilising the full potential of their senior people,” says Prof. Rooshikumar Pandya, a pioneer in the fields of communication, stress management, and therapeutic suggestions.

Executive coaching differs from a typical HR training. It is a form of leadership development that works one-on-one with an individual (usually senior management); to help them truly get on the mission/vision of an organisation, by addressing hurdles/obstacles they face (could be attitudes, challenging behaviour of peers/subordinates/senior etc). In turn, the coached individual is able to inspire and motivate his/her own team to deliver results, thus, build a winning team.


The Reuven Bar-On EQi Assessment Tool, MBTI and DiSC

The Reuven Bar-On EQi Assessment Tool
The BarOn EQ-i® Assessment tool is based on over 20 years of research by Dr. Reuven Bar-On and tested on over 85,000 individuals worldwide. It measures emotionally and socially intelligent behavior as reported by respondents. Dr. Bar-On’s definition of Emotional Intelligence is ” an array of non-cognitive (emotional and social) capabilities, competencies and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures.”

BarOn EQ-i® 125 consists of 125 items and includes four validity indices and a sophisticated correction factor rendering scores for the following components:

  • Intrapersonal
    (Self-Regard, Emotional Self-Awareness, Assertiveness, Independence, and Self-Actualization)
  • Interpersonal
    (Empathy, Social Responsibility, and Interpersonal Relationship)
  • Stress Management
    (Stress Tolerance and Impulse Control)
  • Adaptability
    (Reality Testing, Flexibility, and Problem Solving)
  • General Mood Scale
    (Optimism and Happiness)



Created by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs, they developed their model and inventory around the ideas and theories of psychologist Carl Jung, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud and a leading exponent of Gestalt personality theory.

 The MBTI® indicator is based on 20 years of research and is one of the most widely-used psychometric profiles world-wide. It describes 16 types of people. Your “type” consists of four letters that represent your four preferences. It is not a test, therefore, there is no right or wrong style. The Indicator questions deal with the way you like to use your perception and judgment-the way you gather information and make decisions. There are four separate preference scales and two opposite preferences on each scale. The four scales describe where you like to focus your attention (E or I), the way you gather information (S or N), the way you make decisions (T or F), and how you deal with the outer world (J or P).

The four dichotomies are as follows:

E (Extraversion) means that you probably relate more easily to the outer world of people and things than to the inner world of ideas.

I (Introversion) means that you probably relate more easily to the inner world of ideas than to the outer world of people and things.

S (Sensing) means that you probably would rather work with known facts than look for possibilities and relationships.

N (iNtuition) means that you probably would rather look for possibilities and relationships than work with known facts.

T (Thinking) means that you probably base your judgments more on impersonal analysis and logic than on personal values.

F (Feeling) means that you probably base your judgments more on personal values than on impersonal analysis and logic.

J (Judging) means that you probably like a planned, decided, orderly way of life better than a flexible, spontaneous way.

P (Perceiving) means that you probably like a flexible, spontaneous way of life better than a planned, decided orderly way.

 The Myers-Briggs (MBTI) tool be used for

Developing Self Awareness: Having knowledge of our preference type develops our self awareness and an understanding of the differing personalities of those around us. We learn to recognize different styles in each person and develop a greater tolerance for different preferences and ways of working. It encourages us to focus positively on our strengths and understand development needs.

Building Strong Relationships: Knowing your MBTI type and that of others in your life can help you appreciate and improve the quality of relationships with your colleagues, boss and direct reports, as well as family, friends and partners.




DiSC is a model of human behavior that helps to understand “why people do what they do.” The dimensions of Dominance, influencing, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness make up the model and interact with other factors to describe human behavior.

Each of us has developed a distinct way of thinking, feeling and acting which becomes our behavioral style. Our unique patterns distinguish us from one another, and express our individual identities just like our thumbprint. Each DiSC style has great strengths, and potential limitations if overused.



Effective Traits:
Direct, Self Assured, Gets Results
Ineffective Traits:
Dictatorial, Demanding, Sarcastic

Effective Traits:
People Oriented, Persuasive
Ineffective Traits:
Talks too much, Lacks Focus



Effective Traits:
Accurate, Detail Oriented
Ineffective Traits:
Perfectionistic, Accurate, Critical

Effective Traits:
Listener, Loyal, Consistent
Ineffective Traits:
Indecisive, resists change



The true essence of DiSC is learning about behavioral diversity and Emotional Intelligence.    Individuals can learn to adapt their behavior, and move from judging those who are different from themselves to honoring, valuing and respecting others.

It is practicing the three A’s of Enlightenment:
Acknowledge, Accept and Appreciate differences.

“Different = Different – Different isn’t wrong.”  









The original DiSC model was originally based on the 1928 work of Dr. William Moulton Marston at Columbia University.   
The four quadrant behavioral model was developed to examine the behavior of individuals within their environmentally specific situation.   DiSC looks at behavioral styles and behavioral preferences.  It was Marston’s 1928 book,
“The Emotions of Normal People,” which introduced the DiSC model to the public.  Marston, a contemporary of Carl Jung, defined four categories of human behavior style, type, or temperament which are Dominance, Influence (Inducement), Stability (Submission) and Compliant, Conscientious or Caution.   Marston used compliance.

Even though Marston developed the D.I.S.C model, the DISC test or assessment, to prove his theory of the emotions of people within their environment, he never copyrighted his disc profile test.   Thus DISC is available in the public domain.

Later, the work of Marston was researched and updated by Dr. John Geier and Inscape Publishing at the University of Minnesota. The DiSC model and its complimentary assessment tools have helped over 50 million people in 20+ languages over the last 40 years.

As an added bit of trivia, Marston is known in many circles for his work in developing the lie detector test.  He was also the creator, writer and producer of “Wonder Woman” which introduced into comic strips, the role model of a strong female.



 For many curious, just like me high C styles, the lower case “i” in DiSC is an Inscape, trademark – originally a printers error.   Being flexible and adaptable, Inscape, Carlson Learning Company, Performax decided to copyright the mistake and create their version of DiSC, using the small i. So if your version doesn’t have a lower case “i” it is not from Inscape.


What do you think is the future of Executive Coaching In India?

I posted this question on LinkedIn a couple of days ago. Here is how it goes:


” Executive coaching as a specialized discipline has been flourishing in the United States, UK and other mature market economies.

“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.)

Research studies in these countries have been consistently showing spectacular improvements in performance after executive coaching.

“These days, coaching is viewed as very positive and demonstrates an organization’s commitment to the employee’s success in both current and future roles. Furthermore, coaching is increasingly provided to mid-level executives, as well.” says Peyton Daniel, Senior Managing Director & Coaching Practice Leader for DBM North America in the recent study conducted by DBM and the Human Capital Institute (HCI)
What do you think is the future of Executive Coaching in India? ”



This is what friends at LinkedIn said :

Sandeep Malviya

This answer is not sector specific. If we see start ups are mushrooming across the sectors, may be IT/Non IT, many young entrepreneurs are coming in the market. We need executive courses which deliver the exposure to understand various business situations after all business is long run game where you have to deal with all kind of stuff. As there are many B-Schools which have launched Executive programmes but I think Executives are more inclined to join Elite Segment only. There is bounds of opportunity to design and make successful this type of courses.


 Phil Johnson, Ph.D. Authentic Leadership™
Business Leadership Coach, Author, Speaker

Shalini – many of The MBL Global Network’s members are coming from India … coaching interest and awareness seems to be growing rapidly.

Nishith Trivedi
Consultant – Infosys

Hi Shalini,

The concept of Executive Coaching is relatively new in India.

Over the last 3 to 5 years it has got traction. As more and more organizations drive to adopt best practices and learnings from the fortune companies, the practice of executive development is becoming more visible.

Lot of mid-size companies too who have active board members have seen getting support for executive coaching esp for C level execs. The large organizations are extending such practices to the mid-level segment to foster effective grooming and succession planning.

In my opinion the future of exec coaches in India will be very good as many C level execs have begun to seek continuous and active support from executive coaches. This trend will gain speed as many Indian as well as non-indian companies are appointing expats in operational roles. The expats are used to such concepts and that would in turn help in getting the initial buy-in.  

 Anshuman Tiwari
Change Management, Business Excellence and Six Sigma professional.

While passion is key to all careers it is even more so for a Executive Coach. I won’t really bother what is the future of Executive Coaching is in India. It doesn’t matter I think. I won’t consider becoming a coach because the future is bright. I would consider it if I think I can do well. I can help. If I am good I will make money also.

Realistically speaking I have some apprehensions about coaching in India – most of us have difficulty admitting we need help. A mix of upbringing, schooling, and role modeling by parents (elders) has made this even worse. Seeking help is considered a sign of weakness.

Going back to how I started my response – I wish there are more coaches who really are good at coaching. Slowly the tide will turn.

Subhas C Biswas
Trainer, Consultant and Auditor

Future is bright.
Coaches are getting matured.
Demands are picking up for young executives.
Parental guidance and traditional coaching is losing its steam.


Mark Herbert
Author, speaker, coach

The rate at which both Indian and Chinese companies and organizations have adopted our “best” practices and modified them to utilize them in their organizations is impressive.
I suspect like in this country it will catch on. Also like this country you will struggle with what defines “effective” coaching and the techniques will need to both integrate the best practices and the cultural nuances appropriate to the culture.
I see coaching as essential to creating the trust and interpersonal relationships that create true engagement. I have a sincere hope that “engagement” as a business philosophy becomes the international standard and that rather than studying “American” management practices or “Japanese” management practices we look for something that transcends.
I have created a very basic model with five elements that I think is applicable in any culture- those elements are: respect, responsibility, information, rewards, and loyalty. There are “skills” that are necessary to implement and sustain that model, but those skills like the elements are transferable.
I also believe that “coaching” needs to be pushed down in the organization. Waiting to implement it at the mid or executive level is wasted opportunity. It should be built into the foundation of leadership and management training.

Deepak Deshpande
Vice President – Human Resources, NetMagic Solutions

Hi Shalini,

This is indeed the best time to have such initiatives in the Chindia subcontinent.

Life coaching is not a new concept to the Indian subcontinent and same is the case with Personal Coaching. Indian scripts are full of examples of such practices. Even today, you will find many top business executives, company owners and successful working professionals who have their own coaches and mentors. Typically they are called as ‘gurus’ and are addressed in several different forms. Some of them are sincere, genuine and few fake.

Business coaching and conflict coaching is still in the nascent stages. Although a sizable number of Companies invest in coaching for the middle level managers, there are very few Companies which have structured and established coaching programs for top business executives.

The Indian subcontinent is certainly waking up to this world of coaching and has begun to appreciate the merits of coaching. So from that perspective surely the future for good coaches in India is surely bright as many C level execs have started to seek on going and active support from executive coaches. This trend will gain momentum as more and more leaders as MNCs appoint expats in their respective organizations. The expats are used to such concepts and that would play a key role in rolling out such practices.

Research data is full of examples where Chindia – Indian and Chinese companies have adopted traditional age old practices and customized them to their organizational needs. Personally I believe coaching as an essential tool to create and enhance trust levels to promote interpersonal engagements

Needless to add, any coaching initiative need to take a top down approach to reap the true benefits and that will happen only when the efforts have a structured process-driven relationship between a trained professional coach and an individual or team. This should include: assessment, examining values and motivation, setting measurable goals, defining focused action plans and using validated behavioral change tools and techniques to assist one to develop competencies and remove blocks to achieve valuable and sustainable changes in both professional and personal life.

One word of caution though, for quick and a healthy start to such efforts, all coaching programs need to have a good blend of western and eastern philosophies and honor local cultural and ethnic sensitivities and customize such programs. Dishonoring local sensitivities is a sure way to the highway of failed experiments. Like they say, THINK global ACT local!


Yes. The future is definitely bright.

The more and more the boundaries of local vs global are getting evaporated, the Indian companies and the top management will find the need to have executive coaching in making their companies grow beyond a certain limit.

The highly competent advisors will be in demand.

We are providing such services to the SME sector.

Arun Dhiman
Student at Jaypee University of Information Technology

hi Mam,
well Executive Coaching, today, is widely accepted as a ‘necessary learning’ in the arena of competitive business. It is accepted as a part of standard leadership development for top- rung executives. It is a Programme of one- to-one collaboration between a certified coach and an executive, who wants to better his leadership skills, access new perspectives and above all reach maximum potential.
The trend is fast catching up in India too. Top corporate executives acknowledge the energising role that a coach plays and are fast seeking the expertise of an executive coach in order to strengthen their business vision, performance and capacities. However, there is a perceived need for a tailored programme to train senior professionals, and thats what Executive Coaching do….

Attitude versus Aptitude : Brian Tracy

Overcome A Major Fear
A major source of stress in your life is the “fear of rejection” or “fear of criticism.” This fear of rejection manifests itself in an over-concern for the approval or disapproval of your boss or other people. The fear of rejection is often learned in early childhood as the result of a parent giving the child what psychologists call “conditional love.”

Rise Above the Need For Approval
Many parents made the mistake of giving love and approval to their children only when their children did something that they wanted them to do. A child who has grown up with this kind of conditional love tends to seek for unconditional approval from others all his or her life. When the child becomes an adult, this need for approval from the parent is transferred to the workplace and onto the boss. The adult employee can then become preoccupied with the opinion of the boss. This preoccupation can lead to an obsession to perform to some undetermined high standard.

Avoid Type A Behavior
Doctors Rosenman and Friedman, two San Francisco heart specialists, have defined this obsession for performance as “Type A behavior.” Experts have concluded that approximately 60% of men and as many as 30% of women are people with Type A behavior.
Don’t Burn Yourself Out
This Type A behavior can vary from mild forms to extreme cases. People who are what they call “true Type A’s” usually put so much pressure on themselves to perform in order to please their bosses that they burn themselves out. They often die of heart attacks before the age of 55. This Type A behavior, triggered by conditional love in childhood, is a very serious stress-related phenomenon in the American workplace.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to deal with the fear of rejection, criticism and disapproval.

First, realize and accept that the opinions of others are not important enough for you to feel stressed, unhappy or over concerned about them. Even if they dislike you entirely, it has nothing to do with your own personal worth and value as a person.

Second, refuse to be over concerned about what you think people are thinking about you. The fact is that most people are not thinking about you at all. Relax and get on with your life.

The benefits and challenges of a coaching culture in organizations

The use of Executive Coaching for individuals within the organizations is on an increase – recent surveys conducted by The School of Coaching and the Charted Institute for Personnel and Development in the UK indicate that between 92 and 97% of organizations use coaching services.

However only a few organizations are fully committed to developing a coaching culture to create a new way of management. Some pioneering ones have adopted this new style but many others are still struggling and trying to keep in toe. They more often than not find themselves slipping back into the pattern of command and control management habits.

Here are some of the authoritative views on coaching and its benefits:

Sir John Whitmore lists the following benefits of coaching:

  • Improved performance and productivity – given that coaching brings out the best in individuals and teams.
  • Improved relationships – since the questioning style he (read-manager coach) advocates clearly values the coachee and his/ her answer.
  • More time for the manager – based on the argument that those who are coached welcome responsibility and do not have to be chased or watched.
  • Greater flexibility and adapability to change – given that coaching is about being responsive as well as responsible.

Many advance this argument by suggesting that coaching produces results which are not only desirable, but an absolute necessity in today’s environment. Peter M. Pay, the former European Training Manager for ICI and now an independent consultant described its relevance as ” In a modern, high performance world, every organization requires highly competent staff, who frequently provide its principal ‘competitive edge’. Without skilled, motivated and confident employees, few organizations will succeed in the long term. “

A further point is added to the benefits listed above by Bernard Redshaw, an independent management training consultant, who claims that when good coaching is widespread, the whole organization can learn new things more quickly, and can therefore adapt to change more effectively.

  (Acknowledgements: John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance ; Peter M Pay, The Coaching Challenge – Organisations and People)

So what is the much talked Coaching Climate all about?

The new buzzword. Coaching Climate / Coaching Culture.  What is it?

The following are some of the characteristics one would find in an organization where a coaching climate is prevalant:

*** The interactions and conversations between executives at all levels are very different from the those companies without such an environment

*** The emphasis is on learning, development and growth

*** Instead of being reluctant to admit to something that did not go well, the exeutives are willing to “tell on themselves” suggest solutions, and share what they’ve learned.

*** Rather than people having the feeling of trying to defend their positions or laying the blame on others, executives take responsibility for their actions and seek to learn from others

*** The executives no longer shirk from challenging projects, instead they operate from a feeling of empowerment to step up, knowing that others will help them be successful.

*** Feedback is the backbone of such a culture, executives know just the right way to give it and more importantly they recieve it in a mature, responsible manner.

Does your company have a Coaching Climate? A climate which shouts “We” instead of “Me”!!

(This post contains excerpts from : Coaching in organizations authored by Madeline Homan and Linda J. Miller)