When Coaching Give Client Time To Reflect : As Published in THE HINDU : 15 /3 /08…

When coaching give client time to reflect

Chennai: Empathic listening makes coaching effective, writes Elisabet Engellau in one of the essays included in ‘Coach and Couch’ (www.landmarkonthenet.com).

“Some people have a natural inclination for empathic listening. They allow the other person their full attention and create a constructive, positive atmosphere for further understanding by both parties,” she explains.

“To be able to tell your story to a sympathetic ear has a therapeutic effect, and at the same time gives the person presenting the narrative the opportunity to re-create his or her own reality, reflected in the choices made in structuring the story.”

What separates the professional coach from a friend or just another sympathetic human being is the skill of listening with the third ear, says Engellau. For, there is more than what meets the eye!

To get this skill, however, the coach has to work constantly on self-awareness, advises the author. “If coaches are not aware of their underlying baggage, it may be unpacked and transferred to the client.”

Another key insight in the essay is that effective coaching involves giving the client time to reflect.

“Life-changing experiences can happen in a single coaching session. An individual who is given the opportunity and has the courage to tell his or her story, with all its intricacies, can benefit from insights that can lead to important changes in the person’s professional or personal life.”

Change takes time, reminds Engellau. “Considering the cost of professional coaching services, it is highly unfortunate that too many organisations refrain from giving adequate resources to this process, and as a result waste both money and time on what in the end turns out to be a superficial and aborted process of change,” she rues.

Valuable lessons that Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Konstantin Korotov, and Elizabeth Florent-Treacy have put together in this new book from INSEAD.


Boss, it`s time for some training : The Times Of India : 29.2.08

BANGALORE: Training and mentoring are no longer terms restricted to entry-level employees. CEOs and top-level management too are being trained and assigned personal coaches and mentors to help them cope with the pressures of their challenging positions.

“With immense talent crunch in the market today, people are being poached from across verticals. People jump from diverse backgrounds, like petrochemicals to retail. So a certain amount of training becomes essential for the person being hired to have an overview of not just the company, but the entire sector,” says J K Agrawal, head of BTI Consultants, the executive hiring arm of Kelly Services.

Internationally, companies have always placed emphasis on top-level training, but in India this is a recent phenomenon.

“CEO/CXO level training and coaching will become huge in the coming years. People are welcoming such initiatives since it gives them an objective view of their performance and helps them grow,” says Ranjan Acharya, senior VP, corporate HRD, Wipro. “After all, it gets pretty lonely at the top.”

Training at this level, however, is different from entry level programmes, where the period can extend to even three months. A new leader doesn’t have the luxury of time.

“The initial training is conducted over a few days in the head office with other top management executives, which is usually abroad, particularly in case of an MNC. The emphasis here is more to acquaint the new candidate to the culture of the company,” says Priya Chetty-Rajagopal, VP, Stanton Chase International.

After this stage, firms tailor their mentoring programme to the candidate’s specific needs. Rajagopal gives the example of a pharma firm that assigned a mentor to their sales and marketing head based in Singapore when he took over India operations. “Company’s mandate to the mentor was to broaden his horizons from sales and marketing to an overall outlook,” she says.

Sometimes, the next level of training is not restricted to the head alone, but also includes his immediate team. “A CEO, after all, doesn’t work in isolation. It’s more holistic to include the immediate team, which could vary from two to twelve people, since the results then percolate across functions and to everyone in the organisation,” says G Vishwanath, director, Organisations and Alternatives Consulting.

Some of the key areas of training are soft skills, public speaking, people and image management. Soft skills and people management are the most crucial areas since firms invariably land themselves with heads who’re technically sound and have perfect resumes, but find it difficult to juggle various personality types in a team. This leads to poor productivity.

“People at the top often need to be reminded to think out of the box and to listen to all team members. Constant exposure to best practices internationally is another value-addition,” says Acharya.

While training is usually done by management gurus like C K Prahalad, mentoring is undertaken by people from overseas or select IIM faculty as there are very few mentors for this level.

Companies are becoming more proactive in this area. Wipro, for instance, has a strong leadership training and executive coaching programmes in place. Some companies are also asking top-level employees to enrol for programmes at institutes like IIM which would enable them to take on leadership roles, but such instances are still rare.

Now Indian CEO`s hunting for coaches :Times Of India 28th June 2007

MUMBAI: Coaches for CEOs are quite a rage in the West. The list of CEOs who hire coaches include the who’s who of American business, including former GE CEO Jack Welch, IBM’s Sam Palmisano and eBay’s Meg Whitman. CEO coaches like Ram Charan and Marshall Goldsmith have achieved superstar status.

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.

To learn new, first unlearn the old (Deccan Herald :INDIA:Wednesday Dec.12 , 2007 )

Training and coaching is turning out to be the two of the main approaches for the industry to facilitate unlearning…

As technologies, business environments, and approach towards work evolve constantly, unlearning all that’s not relevant in the current contexts has become the key for learning and development  Come to think of it, what could be the most daunting part of being in a new organisation or a new role? Certainly, it’s that grey stretch comprising new work, new people and new organisation.

So what is it that renders such an exigent look to the ‘new’, to anything that we come across for the first time?

Well, it is the existence of the old, the past, the bygones. ‘New’ is not so much about learning something afresh than about ‘unlearning’ what we already know. Quite obviously for something new to find its way, the old has to go; which means for a new learning the old needs to be unlearnt.

Unlearning today is at the heart of learning and development. Technologies, business environments, way we work are evolving rapidly – how much do you learn, how much do you assimilate?

We can’t outgrow our cerebral capacity, yet we need to pace up with the change. How? The trick is to create space by discarding or unlearning all that’s not relevant in the current scenario. Here’s an example. Dr Sankaran P Raghunathan – a doctorate from Temple University, Philadelphia and a visiting teacher at The Emory University in Atlanta – has stinted through a number of careers from banking to IT.

Currently he is COO of a company named Blueshift that he founded. Raghunathan says unlearning has been his greatest challenge through the years, “Till last year I was the CEO of my company. Then we got a new CEO. Now as the COO, I have to report to the CEO.

It’s very difficult. I have to unlearn what I was. Many a times I tend to get into an authoritarian mode – something that I inherit from my teaching career. But it’s totally a different context today, I will be thrown out if am authoritative to my people, they have so many options out there. I need to be relevant to them they should be able to learn something from me.” 

What is unlearning? Is it about forgetting, or deleting past learning? Well, unlearning means to be able to be surprised with a new perspective yet internalise the perspective with equanimity. It’s about accepting concepts that would radically change our previous assumptions. That’s when we can create the context for acquiring new knowledge and skills.

Work contextUnpredictability is the order of the day you never know who you get to work with the next moment – which culture, what language, what thinking pattern. You can’t grow unless you are agile and all encompassing to this randomness. So says Ashis Roy, Director – Operations, Xora Software Systems, “The collaborative nature of work across geographies and technologies has made unlearning more relevant in today’s work context.

What works for one culture may not work for another.” For professional growth it is ‘the’ thing – you are as good as what you have unlearnt last. As Gopi Natarajan, Chief Executive Officer of Omega Healthcare Management Services puts it, “The ability to unlearn old ways of doing things is as critical as learning and upgrading one’s skill sets.” 

New horizonFor some unlearning is a natural process to recondition old patterns before adding new ones. Indu Padmanabhan, HR Head, Thinksoft quotes the example of a computer where an old programme  has to be removed first, before a newly installed program mecan work efficiently. “Similarly in an organisation, unlearning paves a way to new horizon and to relearn in a different direction.”

For vibrant businesses like ITES, the need to unlearn is all the more pressing. This is the sector that hires maximum number of fresh graduates – who join the worklife with a lot of theories and mindsets built over a period of time. Organisations need to reframe these minds so that they could come in terms with the ground realities of work life. As Anurag Jain, President CAS and IBPS, Perot System puts it, “Considering the nature of the IT and BPO industries, where projects are very specific in nature, the skills needed for successful execution are not acquired in the academia.

So, unlearning has taken a centre stage when employees are inducted into the workforce.”

Set of challengesIt is always difficult to let go; whether it is a fondly held belief or an idea. While you can’t expect employees to radically change their behaviour on the job, organisations have their own set of challenges. As Padmanabhan recounts some:

*Training existing employees to set aside present ideas/practices that are no longer relevant in the present day business needs

*New recruits being inducted into a new system where it becomes essential for them to unlearn certain practices/methodologies that they were familiar with in their previous assignments

*Internal job rotation where it is crucial to understand which part has to be unlearned so that the employee fits into the role

Past achievements also sometimes are a roadblock to unlearn. What worked earlier will work always – is the common belief we carry. Like Pravin Tatavarti, Managing Director, Allegis India says, “Unlearning is not easy especially if you were successful in the past.

It needs a different paradigm which very few people appreciate. People do not know what needs to be unlearned in the first place and constantly fight the change required for the future.” While unlearning to a large extent depends on individual attitude and receptivity towards new approaches, given the relevance of it in today’s context organisations too are striving to facilitate this.

Sole content expertThinksoft, for instance, helps employees identify the current skill sets and job content of employees, evaluates if it suits the present business needs and then enables unlearning and relearning by imparting training and job rotations.

By facilitating constant learning, Xora Software tries to build up a mindset that there isn’t anything like a ‘sole content expert’; each one can be a fountainhead of a new and radical idea.  “There is no curriculum for unlearning. We say to ourselves to be agile to all ideas that are thrown in. The challenge is to experience things fully, vividly and without introducing filters”, says Roy.

Holistic approachTraining and coaching is turning out to be the two of the main approaches for the industry to facilitate unlearning. Based on the changing needs of the customer, Allegis India constantly multi skills its people in different technologies.

Training methodologies at Perot Systems include participatory methods, transformational learning/thinking methods, simulations, shadow training (person piggy backs on another employee to be conditioned to acquire the necessary skills), and conditional training methods.

“An individual has to see the benefits of overcoming the conditional and instinctive learning and reconditioning themselves to acquire the knowledge required for the job. The training methods have to be holistic rather than focus on a particular area”, says Mr Jain.

Coaching For High – Flying Corporates

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.