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Challenges Executive Coaches face in working with Matrix Structures

Posted on October 6, 2010 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This paper was writtenby Lina Nangalia PCC as part of her doctoral work at XLRI, Jamshedpur.


Part 1: Introduction


The success ofany organization structure lies not only in the design but in thoughtfulimplementation; this includes not only alignment of processes and rewards butall human resource (HR) practices (Buono,2009). To accommodate the complexity of global business, many organizationshave adopted matrix structures (Galbraith,2009). The majority of the Information Technology firms operating in Indiaare designed as matrix structures. This author’s work and consulting experiencewith many IT firms in India has brought to light the many challenges thatmanagers and team members face in their day to day work within these matrixstructures. Seeking to understand the cause of these problems - organizationdesign, culture, and leadership – was the impetus for this research paper. Theobjective of this paper is to understand from literature the characteristics ofmatrix organizations, the influence of culture on the success of effectivematrix functioning, and the influence of dominant coalitions in matrix structures.


What is a Matrix Structure?

     Kotter & Sathe (1978)identified common problems that plagued rapid growth companies.  According to this author many IT companies inIndia share the problems listed by them. These include:

·       problems caused by the need for rapid decisions; problems caused byrapidly expanding job demands;

·       problems caused by large recruiting and training demands;

·       problems caused by constant change;

·       and problems caused by a constant strain on the resources. 


One of the solutions Kotter & Sathe (1978) suggest to deal with suchrapid growth is the use of matrix structures; they claim that thisorganizational design is capable of successfully handling a volatile and rapiddecision making environment.  Theyrecognize that matrix structures are difficult to implement because theyundermine the dictum that most managers follow, ‘authority must equalresponsibility’.  They suggest that teambuilding activities can help the successful implementation of matrixstructures.  They also recommend that theorganizational culture be developed to include a shared belief in openness, ashared sense of what the company is and where it is going, a clearly perceivedcommitment to employee welfare and norms supporting welfare and change.


A matrix is defined as a type of organization structure that is built around two or moredimensions, such as functions, products, or regions, and in which people havetwo or more bosses (Galbraith, 2009). Such a structure is typical of many IT companies inIndia.

Why would a companychoose a matrix type of organization structure and risk confusing people bygiving them two bosses?  According toGalbraith (2009), “it does so becauseits business strategies require it to be excellent simultaneously at two orthree different things” (p.1). The drivers for choosing a matrix structure arethe pursuit of a dual- or multiple-priority strategy and the sharing ofspecialized and expensive resources. Using a matrix structure requirescomplementary and reinforcing changes to the Information Technology system,planning and budgeting processes, the performance management system, the bonusawards, the selection and development criteria and so on. Explaining further, (Sy & D'Annunzio, 2005) states that thematrix is a grid-like organizational structure that allows a company to addressmultiple business dimensions using multiple command structures. While complexvariations exist, the basic structures have two dimensions, for example, functionby product matrix, geography by product matrix. According to Sy &D’annunzio, the matrix offers many advantages to global organizations; theseinclude:

·      allowing the company to leverage vast resources whilestaying small and task-oriented;

·      encouraging innovation and fast action;

·      and making information available to those who know howto use it.


Some of the disadvantagesof the matrix are:


·      it violates the traditional principles of authority;

·      it can breed ambiguity and conflict;

·      it can require more managerial and administrativesupport.


Matchingclosely to what she has observed in Indian IT companies, this author found thatSy & D'Annunzio (2005) identified fivechallenges of matrix organizational structures:

·      misaligned goals,

·      unclear roles and responsibilities,

·      ambiguous authority,

·      lack of a matrix guardian

·      and silo focused employees. 


Aligning goalsalong the different dimensions of a matrix structure, (for example, function,products, or geographic regions) is a key challenge for top levelmanagers.  Managers and team members inIndian IT companies also struggle with competing or conflicting objectives betweenthe dimensions; inadequate processes to align goals; lack of synchronizationand coordination; and in sufficient communication between matrixdimensions. 

According toSy & D’Annunzio, managers state that there is often confusion whenfunctional objectives conflict with regional requirements and confusion overroles and responsibilities is a common problem in almost all matrixorganizations.  This stems from unclearjob descriptions and guidelines for roles and responsibilities that createtension among employees and confusion over who the boss is. 

Ambiguousauthority stems from the fact that leaders can have responsibility withoutauthority because of the dual reporting structure.  In addition, leaders are unaccustomed tosharing decision rights, and this delays the decision making process. 

The matrixguardian is a member of the senior management team who identifies bestpractices that can be disseminated throughout the organization; the keyfunction of the matrix guardian is to monitor the performance of the matrix.  Often the lack of consequences and rewardsfor matrix performance fails to motivate the employees to make the matrixwork. 

Employees inlarge matrix organizations tend to be silo focused because they view theirmembership and loyalty as belonging to a certain subunit of the organization,leading to a mentality that impedes coordination and collaboration required fora successful matrix.   Furthermore,personal conflict between leaders hinders collaboration between units, whichcontributes to lack of trust between members of the different businessunits. 


     To overcome some of these challenges, Sysuggests the following:

·      Establishment of clear description of roles and areasof responsibilities;

·      a set plan for communication and information sharing;

·      appointment of a senior management member as thematrix guardian;

·      skills development to work in matrix;

·      providing cross functional work experience;

·      and encouraging relationship building through informalnetworking.


Needless tostate, the maturity and capability of senior management is critical in ensuringthat the matrix structure works effectively. Since matrix organizations aredesigned to balance opposing dimensions (functions, products, regions), theessential leadership challenge is to manage complexity in multiple reportingstructures; this requires a high level of collaboration and communicationbetween the two or more bosses (Buono,2009). However, as will be seen in the next part, establishing and managingthe culture in an organization is easier said than done.


Client Expectations from a Coach - What women want !

Posted on September 27, 2010 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Client Expectations from the Coach – What women want?- An exploratory study in India tounderstand if gender expectations were different.

Author:Lina Nangalia – [email protected]


There ismuch literature on executive coaching covering nearly every facet of the coaching relationship and process. However, work on understanding gender issuesin coaching is still limited. This article summarizes the results of an exploratory, qualitative study that the author did to understand theperspective and challenges of women managers who have worked with an executive coach. The objectives of the study were to understand the criteria on which women managers selected a coach and their experiences in working with an executive coach.



Using a qualitativeresearch methodology, ten management executives from six major business sectors(FMCG, Financial Services, Infrastructure, Shipping, Information Technology andManufacturing) were invited to share their views and perspectives on executivecoaching.  All ten executives, six ofwhom were women, had engaged an executive coach for a period ranging from threemonths to one year. While the goal of this study was to understand and givevoice to concerns that women managers faced, a few male clients wereinterviewed to evaluate if there were any differences between the genders. Twowomen executives had the experience of being coached by both male and femalecoaches.  Three of the executives were headsof business and seven executives were functional heads.  Four of the executives were sponsored bytheir organization for coaching, and the other six executives were selfsponsored. Each executive was interviewed separately over the telephone in amanner that was informal, conversational and guided by semi-structured fourpre-constructed questions.  Eachinterview was tape recorded with permission from the executive and was latertranscribed.  The findings from the studyare presented below.


Findingsand Discussion


The findings fromthis study can be divided into four themes: initiating the coachingrelationship, selecting a coach, working with the client and benefits ofcoaching. One of the key findings was that in all four themes there were noissues that could be specifically linked to gender; nor did gender influenceany particular expectations from the coach or the coaching process. Inspite ofthis, this study has merit because it helps executive coaches and organizationsponsors not only understand how clients select coaches but also how theyexperience the coaching process.


Initiating the Coaching Relationship

Executivesconsidered coaching for different reasons. One considered coaching because she wanted direction.  She was unsure about how to move ahead although she knew where to go.  She wanted someone she could talk to; whowould listen to her dispassionately, give her honest feedback, and push her toachieve her goals.   Another executivefelt she was drifting in her career and wanted to get it back on track. Someoneelse considered coaching because there was an urge to grow from her currentlevel to the next level in their career. Another executive needed a soundingboard - somebody who could objectively assess the situation around her, andgive her objective feedback about whether she was going in the right directionor not.  It was important for her to havesomebody who was from the industry yet unbiased, to help her focus on her goalsand help her get there.  One respondentsaw coaching as a way of improving himself over an extended period. Accordingto him, since it was a one-on-one process, it was far superior to training asit allowed him to apply the learning to everyday work-life in real time. Oneexecutive considered coaching because he was in a new role, in a new companyand wanted someone from outside who could help him with his thinking. He feltthat a coach held a mirror in which he could see himself clearly, and acted asa sounding board. In summary, both women and men engaged a coach for similarreasons; female managers did not have any reasons that were gender specific.

Reasons to engage acoach

·       Developcompetencies

·       Preparefor leadership assignments

·       Roletransitions


Factors in Selecting a Coach

Workexperience was an important factor that all clients considered in the selectionof a coach.  They all felt that thesuggestions and ideas that the coach brought to the coaching experience wasinvaluable and it helped them to see things from different perspectives.   Age was not a criterion. However, sinceexperience was linked to age they all felt that the coach must be as old as, ifnot older than they were. They wanted a person whom they could be comfortablewith, and who would be easy to talk to. Each client felt it was important tohave a coach they could open up to, and speak freely with.  Gender was not a criterion for any of theexecutives - all felt that gender did not matter.  Two of them had experienced coaching withmale and female coaches, and felt that gender made no difference to thecoaching process, the impact, or the outcome. However, while one executive feltthat gender was not an important consideration, he felt that women made bettercoaches because they had a higher emotional quotient.   Domain knowledge was not necessary for theselection of a coach; what was more important was knowledge of human behaviour,and coaches with a background in psychology or organization development had anadded advantage.  Another chose the coachbased on a reference; but since the coach had the same industry experience, shefelt it was the right choice.

Respondentsfelt that it was important for the coach to have experienced life as a manager;one stated that a coach needed to be a thinking person – someone who couldexpand her thinking and also have a great amount of empathy. All the executivesinterviewed hired the coach based on references.  Some of them had prior interaction with thecoach, but not in a coaching capacity, and that made it easier for them to makea decision.  However, all of themunequivocally said that they would use their personal network or a peerreference to find a coach. One executive stated quite strongly that theinternet would not be the place to look for coaches; she selected her coachbased on a strong reference, the coach’s track record, and coaching credential.Respondents stated that while they would prefer to get coaches throughreferences they would also check for coach certification and credentials. Theybelieved that a certified coach would have the skills of empathy, listening andartful questioning.  In addition tocoaching credentials, they would consider the experience the coach had incoaching. Thus, the professional credibility of the coach, their coachingcompetence, and empathy were key factors in the selection of a coach.

Coach SelectionCriteria

·       Reference

·       Experience

·       PersonalCredibility

·       CoachingCredential


Working with the Client

In theIndian context the coach was considered as something of a guru, and therelationship was based on the guru-shishya relationship.  Most clients expected that the coach would beone who told you what was right or wrong and also gave advice and directionwhen needed. Though clients were told clearly that the coach would not advise them,they felt that the coach’s experience and suggestions added value to them. Evenin terms of the issues that clients worked on with their coaches and in the waythe relationship and the process was managed, there were no differences thatcould be linked specifically to gender. Some felt that having a non-judgementalcoach really helped. Others shared that the coach demonstrated confidence inthem, and this confidence helped them think through what was achievable.  One respondent stated that the coach helpedher be responsible and accountable, while another executive shared how theearly wins went a long way in building her confidence.  She shared how she overcame her fear andsimply did what was agreed with her coach; and then, when the results came in,she began to believe that coaching worked. This increased her trust in thecoach and the coaching relationship.

Manyrespondents felt that the suggestions and ideas that came from the coach wereinvaluable because it was not something that they would think of. For oneexecutive, the coach’s ability to put him at ease and appreciate his businessenvironment, largely contributed to making him confident about the coach.Another executive shared how the tone of her coach’s voice made a hugedifference specially in telephone coaching. She felt that a friendly, soothing voice helped her be more receptive tothe coaching process.  Also, since coachingas a practice had not yet caught on, she felt that offering a couple of trialsessions would allow executives to experience and see the benefits of coaching forthemselves.

Oneexecutive shared that if the client approached the coach directly there wouldbe greater commitment to the process and the client would be positive andreceptive to the coaching.  However, inorganizational contexts, where the client was mandated coaching it was importantthat the coach spend time to build rapport and take time to establishtrust.  The coach needed to exercise alot more patience so that the initial resistance from the client changed toenthusiasm for the process. All clients interviewed preferred working with anexternal coach, because their experience with internal coaches e.g. a seniordirector, was that internal coaches often got prescriptive, and told clientswhat they needed to do. This was something that clients were not comfortablewith.

Working with theClient

·       Take timeto establish rapport and trust

·       Benon-judgemental

·       Demonstrateconfidence in the client

·       Sharepersonal experiences and show different pathways

·       Createearly wins

·       Set upaccountability structures


Benefits of Coaching

For aclient to get the maximum benefits from coaching, the client needed to trustthe coach, and the coaching process. One respondent stated that the coachingrelationship succeeded only if it was an adult-adult relationship, and not aparent-child relationship. A key benefit according to another executive wasthat coaching helped her think things through and increased her confidencelevel.  It made her feel that her goalwas achievable.  An additional benefit ofthe process was the documentation; because once the action plan was put down onpaper, it made her more accountable and pushed her to making it happen. She wasmore committed as she had someone watching over her in the nicest possible way.Another executive shared that the coach helped her see the differentperspectives and give direction to the action plan, and helped her stay ontrack.  She knew she had to do it, butshe appreciated the support of her coach, and knowing she was answerable to thecoach helped her stick to her commitments. Another executive underwent a changein his belief system.  Earlier hebelieved that he couldn’t change, it was his team that needed to adapt to workwith him. Coaching helped him realise that he could change and that was a fundamentalshift in his thinking.  According to him,the way the questions were put across was a huge benefit as it created adifferent kind of thinking – it forced him to explore unchartered paths, andlook at one issue from different perspectives. Another executive stated thathis behaviour towards subordinates, peers and boss changed for the better.  Coaching allowed him to expand his thinking becausehe had moved from being a department head to the head of a business, and he wasable to set a vision for the business with the help of his coach.

Benefits of coaching

·       Skillsenhancement

·       Clarity inthinking

·       Being heldaccountable for goal attainment

·       Developsbroader perspectives on issues




The goal of thisstudy was to understand client experiences with coaching with a special focuson trying to explore gender differences. While the findings from this studyprovided rich data on client expectations and experiences of the coachingprocess, there were no differences in expectations, coaching agendas, orexperiences that could be attributed specifically to gender. In essence,clients selected their coaches based on references, the coach’s experience, andcoaching credentials. While clients preferred coaches who were equivalent inexperience, if not more senior, gender was not an issue in selection. In termsof the coaching agenda, clients worked on developing competencies for thepresent assignment, preparing for future leadership assignments, and workingthrough role transitions. Women clients did not have any coaching issues thatwere gender specific. All clients felt that they had benefited from thecoaching experience; in addition to skills enhancement they mentioned that thebenefits included greater clarity in thinking through issues, being heldaccountable for goal attainment, and developing a broader perspective onissues.







Executive Coaching Case Studies from India and Documented Benefits of Coaching

Posted on September 23, 2010 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (1)

Documented Benefits of ExecutiveCoaching and Case Studies from India


According to McLean (2008) on an average, coaching delivers a returnon investment (ROI) of 5.7 times the original investment made. In another article,Yu (2007) reports that in a study conducted toevaluate if coaching produced results, they found salespeople whose salesmanagers spend more time coaching them reported real performance improvementsover the period. The study concluded that there was a significant boost inproductivity and performance when the manager used a coaching approach. Infact, 36% of the reported differences in performance could be linked tocoaching among those surveyed. These researchers conclude that coaching hasthis effect because it addresses specific performance gaps as comparedto general-purpose training.


In a research study by Turner (2006), executivesidentify five significant benefits of executive coaching as a leadershipdevelopment strategy. These benefits are continuous one-on-one attention; expandedthinking through dialogue with a curious outsider; self-awareness, includingblind spots; personal accountability for development; and, just-in-timelearning. Parker-Wilkins (2006) conclude that coaching assists respondents inthe development of three main competencies: leadership behavior (82 percent),building teams (41 percent), and developing staff (36 percent). Furthermore,Gyllensten (2005) reports that her quasi-experimental study clearly showsanxiety and stress decreases in a group that receives coaching as compared to acontrol group that does not receive coaching. Finally, in a study that capturesthe benefits of executive coaching, Leedham (2005) reports that the mostcommonly occurring benefits from the perspective of the coachees is increasedself-confidence, clarity of purpose, focus on goals, improved relationships,self-awareness, and insights. The case studies in the following sectionilluminate how senior leaders in India have benefited from executivecoaching in this difficult year.


A caveat! Beforeone runs out to hire an executive coach, it is important to note that there aremany consultants now who profess to be executive coaches – however, they havenot received coach-specific training, nor are they credentialed by a professionalinternational body. Blaylock (2008) in his study of the effectiveness ofcoaching interventions (typically lasting between 6 and 17 months) found thatcoaches who were certified had significantly better results with their clients.Thus, HR teams would be advised to select their coaches carefully.

Recent Case Studies from Practice in India   (In the following cases, allnames and company profiles have been changed to protect the identities of theindividuals concerned.)

Surya Kant(SK) – Director Specialty Business Group, BPO Industry

SK was a happy man nine months ago when he got his long awaitedpromotion as Director of the Specialty Business, a group with about 300employees. While the BPO industry was feeling the tremors of the recession, SK’scompany was doing well and had not yet faced any serious challenges. In his newposition, SK had to deal directly with the leadership team based in the US and with theheads of the various clients. This role was previously handled by his mentorthe Vice President. Within three months of SK’s promotion, things changeddramatically.

The impact of the recession hit SK’s company as clients scaleddown on existing contracts and business in the pipeline stalled. SK’s mentor,the VP left suddenly over a disagreement with the US leadership. As part of costcutting and rationalization, SK was asked to handle a new division with 250people as an additional charge. The role for that division’s head was not goingto be filled due to budget cuts. Morale in this inherited division was low andthe gossip mill was working overtime. Furthermore, SK had not yet strengthened hisrelationships with the USleadership; they did not trust him completely, as the previous VP had been theinterface until now. All this had happened in less than three months of hispromotion. Never in his previous, very successful 17 years had he faced suchcomplexity, when all fronts seemed to be on fire. At this point in time, heagreed to work with an executive coach, recommended by a friend of his.

As a first step, the executive coach helped SK prioritize hisagenda. Then the coach helped SK explore the operating styles of the keymembers of the USleadership and helped SK understand how he needed to adapt his style to eachmember. SK quickly had leadership meetings and skip-level meetings with the newdivision to boost their confidence and allay their fears. The coach helped himsee the perspective of the USteam in terms of cost cutting and helped him think through how he wouldnegotiate his cuts as against confronting them on each point. In about fivecoaching sessions across four weeks, SK started to get a grip on the complexissues that he was facing and started to deal with them with balance andperspective.

Kishore Rathi (KR) DirectorMarketing, Paint Industry

KR was brought in from the consumer durables industry where he wasat a VP -Marketing to head the marketing and sales for a family owned,well-established paint company, as Director Marketing. The owners of the paintcompany wanted to professionalize their management and decided to inductprofessionals into roles that were until now handled by a family member. Whilethey had stretched their budget to get KR in the top slot, they were happy thatprofessionals were available at a good price thanks to the recession! In lessthan five months, all stakeholders started having doubts about this good deal. KRrealized the difficulties in working with a family owned firm. It took multiplerounds of meetings with various elders to get things going. Since most of thesenior management had been tenured with the company for more than 20 years,they would resist any initiative or action unless it came from the Chairman’soffice. The owners were distressed that KR had not been able to establishrelationships with the key stakeholders within the firm and in the market. Heseemed to be introducing new practices without understanding this new industry.Despite, these dissatisfactions, KR had managed to improve collections, hadcleared many old receivables, and was improving the distribution. In thismature segment, margins had begun to improve. Unfortunately, KR was slowlyalienating himself from key relationships.

Due to a happy coincidence, the executive coach met with KR as thecoach was known to him from an earlier assignment. Over a quick discussion ofhis current situation, the coach suggested that he try out an executivecoaching program that included a 360* feedforward process. The results of the360* feedforward brought out that KR did not listen to people; he tended to bebrusque, and made quick, summary judgments about others. Those he felt were notup to the mark, he alienated rapidly – whether they were his team members,colleagues, or channel partners. He had not spent enough time understanding theculture of the firm and was now seen as bulldozing his way through withouthaving built up internal and external coalitions. Based on this data, the coachstarted working with KR to change his communication style. He started to learnto listen to people, seek their inputs and opinions, and sell his point ofview. He also realized the importance of giving the firm time to understand andaccept changes rather than forcing them through the system.

Ratan Sharma (RS) – HeadFacilities Group, Services Industry

RS was known in the organization as one of the most talentedadministrators and people managers. The facilities division that he ran wasalmost cultic in their loyalty towards him. Stories of how he had helped peopleand in turn, how people had responded way above the call of duty to help theorganization whenever there was a crisis were part of the organization’sfolklore. Therefore, it came as a rude shock, when he was summoned to thecorporate office and asked to reduce headcount by 15%; he was also told thatthere was not enough money in the kitty for increments; all appraisals were tobe marked as less than satisfactory. For at least a fortnight after thismeeting, RS was distraught and disoriented. He knew of the huge waste in manyparts of the organization, addressing these would save far more than reducingthe personnel count of the facilities support team, the majority of whom werefrom the lower middle class income segments. He believed that letting anyone goat this point would destroy the morale of the entire division; customer servicewould suffer, and clients would not renew their contracts. Rather than dealwith this thankless task, RS decided to put in his own resignation.

Ratan had just started working with an executive coach to help himprepare for senior leadership, so he scheduled a conversation to discuss hisdecision to resign. The executive coach helped RS to look at the situation froma broader perspective; the coach helped RS reframe this task as aleadership-learning crucible. RS realized that he would be able to take betterdecisions in laying-off people than any outsider who replaced him. Once hisperspective was changed, RS was able to put together a plan that would minimizethe human cost of layoffs, and to keep the morale of the remaining team high.


The objective of this paper was to highlight what literature saysabout the impact of difficult times on managing human resources. It suggestedthat traditional HR responses were not enough nor were they appropriate; HRshould consider targeted initiatives like executive coaching. After,documenting some of the benefits of executive coaching from various studies,this paper presented three case studies of how executive coaching has helpedsenior executives deal with the unique situations they were facing in the lastone year in India.It is interesting to note that in all three cases, the senior executives foundexecutive coaches through their own contacts or happy coincidence.Unfortunately, in none of the three companies the HR team had considered usingexecutive coaching as a targeted intervention. Therefore, It is recommended that HR teams understand executive coaching as a targeted HR developmentprocess, and seriously explore how they can use it in their organizations ingood times and bad.



















Executive Coaching as an Effective Targeted HRM Strategy

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 8:38 AM Comments comments (0)


During crisistimes, senior leaders are probably in the greatest state of flux as they try tohold their teams together and manage their own fears simultaneously. Needlessto state that at these levels, the challenge or dilemma that each leader facesis unique to that individual. It is unlikely that group training would addresstheir particular development needs, much less their concerns. Sparrow (2008)reports that the UKbased Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) finds in itsrecent study, that one-to-one coaching is a more appropriate type of learningsupport than group-based interventions for senior people. Furthermore,executive coaching is critical for leaders managing transitions, which may bebrought about by restructuring of operations or by the exit of another seniormanager. Managing transitions is one of the most critical challenges in asenior manager’s career. Leadership transitions, for example, when a seniorperson is promoted within the organization or when the person is a newcomer tothe role, function, or company, are significant timesbecause the incumbent has not had time to learn the ropes and build relationshipsin the new role. Often, senior people have to deal with transitions aloneleaving them vulnerable to a crisis of confidence as they learn to cope with anew set of responsibilities. Sparrow concludes that coaching during this transitionperiod can help the incumbent settle in and get productive quickly. She reportsthat executive coaches help senior managers think through four key areas duringthis critical phase. The four areas are know how they will add value to thejob, develop their emotional connection with the role, consider what theirsubordinates feel it is like to be led by them, and define what success willlook like. The three case studies in the last section will illustrate how theseprinciples have worked in the recent Indian context.


Discussingsenior leadership development, Lindbom (2007) reminds us that most often strongtechnical employees are promoted to management roles for which they areunprepared. Tasks like setting goals, assessing progress, facilitating improvedperformance are new to most high performing technical employees and they oftenflounder in these areas. The organization ends up losing a great technicalcontributor and ends up with a poor manager because the transition has not beenmanaged correctly. Lindbom did a six-month study in a large telecommunicationscompany and found that most of itsmanagers were spending less than 10% or their time coaching and mentoring theiremployees. Ironically, this same group of managers attributed 70%-80% of theirtime to problem solving, crisis management, and paperwork-all of which theyagreed were not their most critical job responsibilities. While many managersrealize that performance management and coaching are important to their successas team leaders, they do not have the tools or the processes to help themdevelop and implement these responsibilities. At this juncture, an executivecoach can work with the employee and help the person make the transition to aleadership role more effectively than a leadership seminar because the coachunderstands the individual’s particular development needs within the context. Thecoach works with the employee to develop and implement an individualizeddevelopment plan that takes into account the feedback from affectedstakeholders.


Documented Benefits of ExecutiveCoaching


According to McLean (2008) on an average, coaching delivers a returnon investment (ROI) of 5.7 times the original investment made. In another article,Yu (2007) reports thatin a study conducted to evaluate if coaching produced results, they foundsalespeople whose sales managers spend more time coaching them reported realperformance improvements over the period. The study concluded that there was asignificant boost in productivity and performance when the manager used acoaching approach. In fact, 36% of the reported differences in performancecould be linked to coaching among those surveyed. These researchers conclude thatcoaching has this effect because it addresses specific performance gaps as comparedto general-purpose training. According to research by Turner (2006),executives identify five significant benefits of executive coaching as aleadership development strategy. These benefits are continuous one-on-oneattention; expanded thinking through dialogue with a curious outsider;self-awareness, including blind spots; personal accountability for development;and, just-in-time learning. In a research study by Parker-Wilkins (2006),respondents state that coaching assists them in the development of three maincompetencies: leadership behavior (82 percent), building teams (41 percent),and developing staff (36 percent). Furthermore, Gyllensten (2005) reports thather quasi-experimental study clearly shows anxiety and stress decreases in agroup that receives coaching as compared to a control group that does notreceive coaching. Finally, in a study that captures the benefits of executivecoaching, Leedham (2005) reports that the most commonly occurring benefits fromthe perspective of the coachees is increased self-confidence, clarity ofpurpose, focus on goals, improved relationships, self-awareness, and insights. Thecase studies in the following section illuminate how senior leaders in India havebenefited from executive coaching in this difficult year.


A caveat! Beforeone runs out to hire an executive coach, it is important to note that there aremany consultants now who profess to be executive coaches – however, they havenot received coach-specific training, nor are they credentialed by aprofessional international body. Blaylock (2008) in his study of theeffectiveness of coaching interventions (typically lasting between 6 and 17months) found that coaches who were certified had significantly better resultswith their clients. Thus, HR teams would be advised to select their coachescarefully.



Personal Coaching Pathway for the ICF Credential

Posted on July 11, 2010 at 10:02 AM Comments comments (0)

Personal Coaching Pathway for the ICF Credential

A completely personalized and customized training pathway to suit your schedule and needs


Many senior leaders in industryare interested in being credentialed as executive coaches through a recognized body such as the International Coach Federation (, the pressure of work and their busy schedule constrains them from attending extended classroom sessions of up to a week, or long drawn outteleclass programs that can extend over a year. Global Coach Trust (GCT) is pleased to announce a special initiative that enables senior leaders to get theICF Accredited Coach Specific Training Hours using a personal coaching program (blending face-to-face and telephonic sessions).


The ACSTH hours (comprising ofcontact and self-paced learning) that are required for the ICF ACCcredentialing exam will be scheduled based on the mutual convenience of the senior leader and the GCT coach. Participantswho complete this pathway will be certified as having completed the two ICF ACSTHaccredited programs, The Competent Coach and The Coach Practitioner. They will be client-centered coaches who will have an understanding of how to use avariety of coaching processes and tools in a way that suits the client’s needs,personality, and learning style. They will be equipped to appear for the AssociateCertified Coach (ACC) credentialing exam, once they complete their 100 hours of coaching. 

Email in for a brochure and investment details: [email protected]



How do you select an Executive Coach training program?

Posted on June 19, 2010 at 10:48 AM Comments comments (0)

How do you select an Executive Coach training program?

If you are interested in getting trained and certified as an executive coach, you’ve probably started doing some research about the various coach training programs that are available. It’s possible that the sheer range of options can cause some amount of confusion! As a professional from the Indian corporate sector, the following guidelines will shed light on what to consider when selecting a coach training program.


Some of the factors you need to consider in selection of the program include:


(i) recognition by ICF (International Coach Federation,;


(ii) delivery option – face to face or via teleclasses;


(iii) experience, expertise and location of the faculty teaching the course;


(iv) support as you complete you 100 logged coaching hours for ACC (750 for PCC);


(v) mentor coaching for the ICF oral exam; and finally


(vi) guidance to start your coaching practice either as an external coach or within your organization.


Each of these factors is discussed briefly below.


(i) It is essential that the course that you are considering is accredited by the ICF. To get the ACC credential you need to do a program that provides at least 60 hours of ICF accredited training; for the PCC you will need 125 hours of accredited training. Programs that are not specifically approved by the ICF may not be the best investment of your money as they will not be considered by the ICF for your credential.


(ii) While the teleclass delivery is an effective methodology, often the timings are suited for international audiences. In essence, you’ll have to get up at odd hours to attend class. Many such programs also extend over months thereby taking time to complete. If you are a working professional or an independent consultant, you’d want to consider an option that maximizes your use of time by intense face-to-face classes held over 2 – 3 days. Check if the vendor offers personalized options to suit your crazy schedule.


(iii) Faculty credibility is possibly the most critical decision factor. If you plan to work in the executive coaching space, you want to consider faculty who have the experience of having worked in the Indian corporate sector – both within as employees and from the outside as consultants. Executive coaching is a specialized domain. The course contents, tools, and other materials should reflect this specialty. In addition, faculty should be practicing executive coaches so that they can share the benefits of their experience with you. Since coaching is influenced by culture, ensure that your faculty can relate to your culture and its nuances. They should know how coaching processes need to be adapted to be culturally congruent.


(iv) Completing the required training hours is only one step towards getting the ICF credential. The other two steps are the completion of logged coaching hours (100 hours for the ACC and 750 for the PCC) and mentor coaching. Check if your training provider supports and mentors you while you get your coaching hours logged.


(v) According to ICF, before you take the ICF oral exam, you need to undergo Mentor Coaching. In this process, you need to spend 10 hours with two ICF credentialed coaches who will mentor you for the oral exam. At the end of the mentor coaching, you need to have two reference letters that need to be submitted as part of your exam application document. The majority of training programs do not build in mentor coaching in their offering. Getting this separately adds a significant cost to your training. Be sure that the program offers you at least two ICF credentialed mentors who will give you the reference letters as part of the mentor coaching.


(vi) Getting trained and credentialed starts you on this journey. As an external consultant, you’d want to know how to build up the coaching practice or as an internal coach, you’d possibly want support in helping you build a culture of coaching within your company. Check if the vendor will support you by sharing appropriate tools and their expertise in practice building.

The Coach in Asian Society - The International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching & Mentoring

Posted on February 1, 2010 at 12:06 PM Comments comments (0)

Hi!  My article has just got published in a peer reviewed international journal. If you'd like to read the article, please email me on [email protected]. The abstract is given below.


Abstract - This qualitative exploratory case study explores how executive coaches across Asia adapt coaching - from the conventional (essentially Western) understanding - to make it culturally congruent for their clients. It presents how coaching is personalized to an Eastern ethos; thus, constructively challenging coaching concepts and practices that are believed to be universally applicable. The findings bring out how the deeply embedded concept of social hierarchy influences the role and status of the coach in Asian culture. Whether the social hierarchy draws its strength from Confucianism or Hindu tradition, it shapes the expectations that clients have from the coach and coaching. International coaches working with Asian clients will appreciate that they need to flex their coaching style to suit the social context of their clients. A proposed framework can be used by international coaches working with Asian clients to understand what is required for cultural adaptation.