Sunday, August 11, 2013

Journey of an Executive Coach

Since Nov 2012, I'm engaged in Coaching top leaders of a group of companies founded by an Entrepreneur, who is well known and respected by industry leaders. I also coach his two sons, who are engaged in the business. The elder son had an head start in joining the business by a few years. Hence the coaching needs of the two are very different.

During the first few days of my joining, I focused on 1-on -1 coaching of the CEOs and their direct reports. Later, as I developed better understanding of the individuals on the team, I started to conduct Group/Team Coaching sessions. The group sessions were offered to mainly intact teams (from the same company), and not across different companies.

The first few sessions offered me a deeper understanding of the intra personal and interpersonal issues within the team.

Armed with theoretical knowledge and practical experience,  I developed a journey map for the group/team as follows:

A. Self Awareness - A leader's development starts with the motto 'know thyself'. The individuals on the team completed few assessments, including MBTI, conflict Management Styles and Leadership styles, to discover more about themselves.

B. Situational Awareness - collectively teammates completed - SWOT/SCOT Analysis of the organization and the team, Tuckman's stages of team, 'Mad, Sad, Glad' (things that made them happy, angry or frustrated in the last 6 months), etcetera, to understand the current situation they are in better. A lot of time invested in getting the grip on 'reality'.

C. Systems Thinking - after securing clients' / Sponsor's consent, I could collect anonymous feedback from a sample representatives of their top valued 'Customers', 'Employees', 'Vendors' and 'Investors'. I shared the feedback and the patterns that emerged from these conversations during a team Coaching session. This helped the top team to see the various perceptions in play and the reputation they have on others mind in a dispassionate way (since I removed the names and any reference to the person giving feedback). The idea was to help the team realize that the 'Sum of parts in not equal to the whole'. The session that followed where based on appreciative inquiry and systems thinking.

D. Shared Mindset - This helps the team to be aware or realize that 'Goals shared' are not the same or powerful as  'Shared Goals'. The collective vision that emerged for the team is to make theirs a 'High Performance, Customer - centric organization, which is a great place to work'.

The individual and team action plans emerged during these sessions and over the last few months it is on track.

The journey continues. ...

Some of my key insights as a coach:

1. Earn the 'Right to Coach'. It cannot be forced upon the client by the sponsors. Establish that you are not 'Chairman's Spy'

2. Don't get too involved in the business of your clients / Coachee. The behavior patterns changes and before you know you'd start owning and solving the clients problems.

3. Ensure you've got sponsors' Trust. They should trust you enough not to ask what's happening in the coaching sessions.

4. Earn Client's confidence, that you are keeping the conversation confidential and acting on the best interests of the client. You will be privy to a lot of sensitive and conflicting information/ view points about each other on the same team. Acknowledge the same and still be nonjudgmental.

5. Speak truth to the power, when needed. Especially the sponsors when their decisions are impacting individuals and teams.

I had my own share of tough moments in earning the trust and space to be a leader's coach. In couple of instances, I got a perception that the coaching contract is off. However time and again I reminded myself to be nonjudgmental in my approach and seek to understand the concerns of the leaders. This helped me to change my approach and dealing tge situation in a different manner. At the end it paid off. I could earn my place as a coach and be back on track in the engagement. This is still a journey, a lot to learn in this area.

Will keep sharing as I learn more and grow in this journey.


Dayaanand Shanmugam said...

Great sharing Bhaskar , I am sure you are also integrating the values learned. .. I personally have found that if a log is not maintained with regard to the personal and professional growth of the individual and where THEY don't acknowledge the same then ownership and responsibility for their success or failure over a period of time goes out of the nearest window. . ! !

vanchinathan Kumar said...

Inspiring . True sharing of your experience. I see you overcoming challenges and Moving forward with
spirit. Very best wishes Mr Bhaskar for all your success as a Executive Coach.


Senthiyl said...

Tks Bhaskar!

I feel like you have hone in on the key person in this process! The coach himself.

How has he framed his role? What is he learning in the journey? and more.

great sharing :-)