Companies like Mahindra & Mahindra hire experts to train their employees.
Executive education courses are passé. Executive coach or a leader as a coach is the new concept finding favour with the Indian companies.
So be it a Mahindra & Mahindra, Bharti Airtel or Tata Management Training Centre — all want their future leaders to be trained under an exclusive executive coach.
Officials like Shubhabrata Saha, the managing director and chief executive officer of Mahindra First Choice Wheels, will tell you why.
“Till a year ago I thought I had everything going my way. But, opting for an executive coach for a leadership training programme turned out to be an exploratory journey for me. It was as if someone was holding up a mirror in front of me. There was more asking than telling. Overall, I could see a definitive change in the way I saw people, business and life. There has been a definitive change in my personal and professional effectiveness. There can absolutely be no substitute to an executive coach,” says Saha.
When Arnav Pandit, a senior Indian manager working for a multinational consumer goods company was assigned to work in Indonesia, he assumed that he would adjust easily with his Javanese employees, as they too were Asians. But his Javanese counterparts began taking his upfront and frank attitude as a confrontational one.
“Gradually I realised that my co-workers were not telling me what was on their minds. This was when I took the help of an executive coach,” says Pandit.
After appropriate guidance from the coach, Pandit could tell the difference between ‘resistance’ and ‘boredom’ and sensed whether others were disagreeing without openly saying so.
While Indian companies are increasingly eyeing the global map for expansion, the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region is short of leaders to train senior managers. This is where international coaches come to aid to acclimatise to different cultures.
“Business growth is happening faster than people growth. What we need is leaders with a global mindset,” says Sureish Nathan, vice-president Asia Pacific and managing director, Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL), Asia. Nathan adds that Indian leaders need to widen their horizon.
CCL, a US-based company, was incorporated in India in April 2009. It has been serving Indian clients from its global campuses since 2001. The company has seen an annual growth of 25 per cent in India. But with a faculty of just 20 coaches in APAC region, the company is competing hard with to gain market share. They also agree that some of the executive training curriculum offered by the likes of Harvard Business School and others have been much more aggressive. Other companies work on similar lines inlcude: Insead Global Leadership Centre and Results Coaching.
“We are focusing on increasing our coach strength in the region in general and in India in particular, simply because the demand for our programmes have been growing fast,” said Anupam Sirbhaiya, Regional Director India.
Not only the traditional manufacturing sector; individual business houses and large conglomerates are also seeking leaders keenly. CCL also plans to create an executive coach programme for the micro-finance institutions in India.
Further, CCL is also currently working on a pilot in collaboration with Grameen Foundation and CoCoon consulting to create a model for developing middle managers in microfinance organizations. CCL might also plan to work with the Indian government agencies. The approach aims to democratise leadership development, that is, to make leadership development accessible to populations and sections of society that have hitherto not had the opportunity/ access to benefit from such practices.
At Mahindra Management Development Centre the executive coaching concept was formally introduced in late 2004. Rajeev Dubey, President, (HR and After Market) and member, Group Executive Board, Mahindra & Mahindra said, “The whole issue of creating leaders has become important given the business condition. There are three broad areas where the business of training leaders is taking place — the assignments that people do (70 per cent), coaching and mentoring (20 per cent) and formal management inputs (10 per cent).”
Dubey, who also has been one of the executives to be a part of the programme, says that the executive coach helped him to say ‘no’ at the right time and in a proper manner. He believes though there has been no ‘impact analysis’ per se of the initiative, the executives have found it extremely useful at all levels.
Industry experts say, the executive coaching sector is very fragmented as many of these leaders or coaches get certified by executive training companies and conduct individual assignments.