Executive Coaching in India

In India, executive coaching is still at its nascent stage despite debuting some 17 years back. But, in today’s landscape, its practice and relevance to businesses and leaders are on an upward trajectory, given the high economic volatility and complex challenges within and outside companies staring at CEOs.

Executive coaching may be the most effective developmental method. It works even when other developmental methods like executive education, training programs, self-learning, etc, cannot achieve a sustained growth behavior. Initially, like in the western world, people here considered executive coaching to be remedial, meant for individuals who needed to be “fixed”. Because of this, senior executives were not willing to hire a coach. Even if they did, most would not admit it openly.

The perception was that “coaching is for weak leaders” and that strong and competent leaders would not require any external help. However, for some time now, leaders in the US and UK consider receiving executive coaching something to be proud of. This mentality has not arrived in India yet, therefore there is still a stigma surrounding executive coaching. But, due to the current volatile market situation caused by COVID-19, India is starting to embrace executive coaching.

Today, around 95% of executive coaching in India is company-sponsored, while only 5% is self-sponsored, mainly by CEO/small and medium-sized business owners. There are large numbers of senior HR professionals, retired CEOs, and top executives, who are jumping into the growing market of executive coaching. Some consider their long and successful industry experience to be enough qualifications to designate themselves as an “executive coach”. Experts agree that these self-made coaches can only provide an introduction to what executive coaching is, and to become a real coach they would need to possess both the skills, experience, contextual understanding of the industry, and a proper coaching certificate. Coaches must get certified by well-known coaching experts or associations, as more and more organizations in India are preferring certified coaches from reputed associations to ensure good quality.

Executive coaching process.

Pre-discussion: This stage consists of a data collection process. The coach meets the company’s HR and leaders to understand them in detail. Data is needed to identify the company’s expectations, background on the person who needs coaching to know his strength, weaknesses, potential and willingness to be coached, etc.

Assessment: Leader assessment reports contain crucial information on his communication skills, leadership style, and overall competency, this also helps the coach understand what the HR and business expect from him.

Agreement: In this phase, the coach, HR, and company executives together make a non-disclosure agreement regarding the coaching. On the basis of data collected from the assessment report, an agreement is made between both parties on defining the areas to be worked on and the expected coaching result.

Coaching: On the basis of the action taken, the coach will schedule dates based on which the executive is coached. The duration of the coaching period will be as per the contract. At every stage, the coach will be in contact with the executive to enable consistency in his progress.

Closure: This is the final stage of coaching. The HR will be evaluating the development accomplishment that has been achieved post-coaching, and will also be checking whether all the coaching objectives have been achieved.

The organizational benefit of executive coaching

Team development: Since executive coaching is aimed to develop leadership skills in an executive, they will gain interpersonal skills in the process, which forms the basis for strong team bonding. Along with this, the executive will also be more empathetic and understanding, post-coaching, which can make them a great team player.

Argument resolution: Almost every organization has to face conflicts due to employee dissatisfaction. Such conflicts greatly affect productivity. If an executive is coached on how to deal with such situations, it can develop him as a solution-minded leader. This will enable him to provide the employees with a new perspective and dampen the conflict. Conflict resolution is critical for an organization’s health.

More developed skills: Bitter words can fracture an organization’s efficiency. Through coaching, executives understand essential interpersonal skills, which can help them avoid such a situation. A coach can also help an executive to upgrade their pre-existing skill sets and thereby making them an all-round leader.

Focused: Leaders can be biased, but to become a good leader, it is important to be unbiased. Bias may cause executives to make decisions that can negatively impact the business in the long run. Executive coaches can coach executives to take active decisions, whether it be employee hiring or a big decision related to marketing, unbiased decisions can get the required results.

The way forward.

As the momentum for executive coaching is increasing in India, organizations need to prepare and identify domains that can benefit by seeking help from outside experts, that is, through executive coaching. At the same time companies need to take crucial steps to create a coaching culture, by developing internal leaders and managers to become coaches.

Conclusion - While this industry is still in its early days, there is starting to build up a high demand for executive coaching in organizations today. There is also an urgent necessity to bring more structure into this emerging industry so that its foundation is strong and it can grow faster. Seeing the high potential of leadership & development industry in India, the future will definitely be shaped by this industry’s help.


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