Choose your Coach
Coaching has been gaining in popularity in India. Leaders realize that the top of the mountain is a precarious position. One slip is all that it takes to end an illustrious career. People at the top have one big problem –
How to stay on Top?
There are a host of other challenges too. For example:
- Whom to trust?
- Who to get advice from?
- Will the advice be in my best interest?
- What are the guarantees that the advice will work?
- Are there any surefire ways to succeed?
- Am I able to see the situation from the right perspective?
Well… all the above questions are fit and apt questions that any leader would be faced with. However, there is one clear answer to all the above.
Ask your COACH.
So how does one find/choose a coach?
That is the primary question that most people are not able to answer, and without a clear answer, coaching becomes a shot in the dark. Here are some points that have to be considered before you Choose your Coach:
A good coach should have experience. Ideally, a coach should have been held positions of authority, if the person being coached is in a position of authority. Many coaches today have moved from being a teacher… or a speaker… to being a coach, without having had any corporate world experience. Even if the person has 10 years of work experience, does it make that person competent to advise someone on handling challenges that the coach would not have experienced?
One of America’s leading training organizations has been asked to leave some Gulf countries because their training has just not worked. What works in one country, generally does not work in another country. The mindset, the ethos, the attitudes and the culture of a country have to be taken into consideration when training is imparted there. Can a trainer coming in from a western country even start to understand the Indian Psyche? Well everyone knows… whats good for the goose may not even be good for the gander. So how can something that is good for a Western Mindset work for a traditional Indian mindset?
A few International Organizations – specially those based out of the U.S. know how to package an offering. But… their track record has shown that the certificates they offer really do not work. Coaching is about understanding the system, the process, the hierarchy the ecosystem… the culture. How can training for a few days impart a fair understanding of the leadership issues that the coachee has taken years to learn and experience? We need more indigenous programmes and certifications for India. Maybe we have to pool our resources and work out an India-centric approach to what is required for coaching in India. Unfortunately, since many MNC’s in India have rules that have been framed in the U.S., Australia or Europe, they insist on using vendor organizations that are certified in those countries. This is a losing proposition, because the training does not take into consideration the mind of the Indian… (forget about diversity of the Indian states themselves). Cross cultural issues are not even considered in such training. What is really required is to find out whether the Coach has the requisite experience to understand and guide the coachee.
3. TRACK RECORD
This is the most important aspects of choosing a coach. Has the coach demonstrated success with other leaders of similar background? Can experience gained on a cricket field be used to handle issues in a corporate boardroom? Does the coach have a few references that can be checked out? Ideally the coach should have held similar positions and should also have had a successful run in those positions. Though this does not guarantee success, it at least could be used as a base.
A great question to ask a coach is How have your coachees grown? and How soon can one expect to see results? An easy way to check this out is to go to the coach’s Linkedin profile and check how many people have recommended the coach as an Executive Coach, A Leader… a Trainer… or a Coach… a good indication of experience and expertise is available through a number of means… and Linkedin is a great way to see how many people have endorsed the coach you wish you engage with.
4. ABILITY to READ OTHERS
A good coach can apply principles appropriately and they may work in some situations. But what is really required in coaching is for a coach to first read the coachee well. Two different leaders in the same organization generally have their own innate styles of functioning. A lion is a different animal from a fox, and elephant or a cheetah. Each should be treated differently. Every leader has his/her own signature, and trying to change it is detrimental to the leader’s interest.
A great coach is one who understands the coachee well, and can see the underlying strengths and weaknesses. It is also important to understand the ecosystem in which the coachee works… and the personal relationships that matter. Coaching is not a formula that can be blindly applied. It is an art that has to be learned through years of dealing with people of different ilks and psychological profiles. Being able to read people effectively is what separates a good coach from a great one.
Coaching is a process, and it has to be pursued consistently. Plans have to be drawn up, and these have to be arrived considering the professional and personal needs of the coachee. Coaching has to be approached in a holistic way, and so a coach should be available for consultation over the phone/mail at short notice. A crisis may need a quick decision. A coach should therefore be available – using technology or in person when required. Thanks to Skype… Vonage… Whatsapp and a host of other services, one can connect with people even across the globe. Only a dedicated coach will be available for his coachees… and this is surely a boon for any serious coaching programme.
Now that you know how to choose your coach, all you have to do is to decide that you want to progress quicker and with more confidence.
Why be good… when you can be GREAT?