The Role of Coaching in Today’s Business World

Deepa Nagarajan

Deepa Nagarajan

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that the impact lasts after your absence.” By quoting Sheryl Sandberg, I would like to begin to throw light on the importance of leadership coaching and the effects it has on a business or an entrepreneurial setup.

Let’s first begin to define the fundamental principles that need to be upheld by able and successful leadership. The first and foremost mark of a good leader can be determined by his ability to generate enthusiasm and optimism among his team mates and at the workplace in general. Good inspiration cannot be generated by inducing fear and anxiety in a work environment rather the task of a leader stands in enabling and empowering those around him not just for the betterment of the establishment but for the individual as well. Leading by example and practice as opposed to mere directing and assigning of tasks is another important trait that must be possessed, in order to demonstrate effective leadership. This is because of the natural human tendency to trust more in action rather than in words. This creates a network of trust and mutual understanding between leader and his teammates rather than a hierarchical dependency.

A good leader empowers his teammates and drives them to adopt a good sense of independence and allows greater opportunity for others to grow and express themselves. The management whiz, Tom Peters once said- “Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.” He defines what leadership must execute and throws light on its nature of being nurturing and bringing out the best in people. Leadership, on the whole, requires development over time. It is an ageless principle that says, no skill can be diligently put to it’s fullest use without coaching and training. The same goes with leadership as well. Bob Nardelli, the CEO of Home Depot, puts across to us without a shadow of doubt that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities. Now, it may be so that you have great potential for leadership and happen to be very nimble in the execution of the principles of leadership; but it is of equal importance to enhance the skill as leadership is all about enhancement. You enhance yourself and enhance those around you in turn.

The word ‘coaching’ unlike the words ‘mentoring’ and ‘consulting’ has a very different meaning and without a doubt, a greater impact. The word mentoring suggests that it is a one-way information transfer session. It covers a minimum area of the subject being touched upon and doesn’t stress on the importance of interaction and diversification of ideas and solutions. Consulting on the other hand deals with providing different techniques and solutions for different matters on a purely business-to-business basis, with focused interaction. Coaching stands a class apart – Coaching is all about exploring, experimenting and finding new solutions together. It is founded on the principle that a person is already empowered from within to find the right solution and focuses on extraction of those hidden, wisdom through specific techniques. The process includes development of specific skills (personal and professional), which makes you not only ready to take on new ideas and roles, but also work towards cultivating and fostering workplace values and good interpersonal skills, which are the essentials of leadership roles.

A leader must not only find new solutions in his workplace but also understand and acknowledge his co-workers, which in turn creates a healthy work environment. Coaching plays a very crucial role in a progressive corporate or any growth-oriented business environment. The customized and individualized nature of coaching enables one in coming up with a vast number of diverse solutions in a collaborative environment. It is a joint effort between the coach and the coachee that helps one in achieving the desired goals. A Harvard Business Review article of 2009 said that coaching in corporates helps address the following 3 needs:

1. 48% of coaching programs are used to develop high potentials or facilitate transition in a business

2. 26% of engagements are meant to act as a sounding board

3. 12% of the coaches come in to assess and inspire behavioral transformation in an organisation

Companies hire coaches to facilitate solutions to challenges or issues that are face by the leaders. The Harvard survey also learned that executives are the most fierce and enthusiastic to learn and grow. Most management committees are committed to and recognize the need to coach the executives of the company in order to harness better leadership skills in them, which in turn creates a productive and enthusiastic environment in the workplace. Although the coaching industry is still nascent in India, the past few years since 2014 have seen a massive development with coaching stalwarts such as Marshall Goldsmith, Maxwell, Tony Robbins, Shiv Khera and many more bring in the sharp focus as well as simplicity into the practice.

No one could have summed it up better than Simon Sinek who says “ we become a leader the day we decide to help people grow and not numbers.” It is important to reap good benefits out of the investments we make in a business, But investing in developing the people involved in a business ensures it’s longevity and continuous growth.