What Business Leaders are Planning for Coaching in 2023

Jan 2, 2023

When the country was hit with the pandemic in 2020, lifestyles and mindsets changed as we experienced the unusual. In the midst of chaos and uncertainty though, life taught us agility and resilience. We were challenged every step of the way with doubts like, “this cannot be done, I don’t know how to do this, I am not enough, I am not the right person, or I have not done this before.”

Coacharya recently had a roundtable breakfast meeting in Bangalore for the very first time after the pandemic. Apart from the obvious excitement of meeting people in person after so long, we were also curious to hear what some of the most senior corporate leaders across industries had to say about what’s working for the companies in developing a work-life culture. Our focus was on using a systemic perspective to make them both internally and externally stakeholder centric in the post-pandemic world.

When times are tough and work pressure runs high, some of the basic needs for us to function become a challenge. As per Vedanta, there are three pillars of practice for us to become better leaders – Shravana (listening), Manana (reflection), and Nididhyasana (action). It’s a growing observation that organizations are getting prepared to make a shift. Old leadership styles are redundant. With increasing awareness, there are more conversations around the need for managers or leaders to embody a coach-like mindset. This mindset is about being open, curious, and flexible, thus empowering others and allowing them to take ownership and be accountable.

From Command & Control to Support & Guide

So, what do the leaders need to be and do to be agile with the changes in the wake of the pandemic? How are they planning to tackle challenges in the forthcoming year?

Sharing his thoughts on leadership, a senior Human Resources Officer from a global financial services company, said, “Anybody can be a leader. We should look for leaving the leader with the questions they have in mind. It’s not necessary to have a curriculum, course, or content that will lead them to something, but making sure they have enough questions and the belief that they will figure it out.”

In order for teams to function effectively, knowing people beyond their ID cards, consistent communication, and being empathetic towards the team members are significant. Talking about his takeaway from the session, Akhil Saxena, Vice President for Worldwide Customer Service Operations at Amazon, said, “We all say that we want to step in the other person’s shoes, but you cannot do that unless you take off your own shoes. So, take off your own shoes, maybe feel them differently. I wonder how often I think of taking off my own shoes and the answer is that most of the time, I am trying to fit into theirs on top of my own.”

Relevance of Systemic Coaching 

Organizations are driven by individuals who form different teams. In a setup consisting of diverse thoughts and experiences, individual coaching is emphasized a lot. But is it enough to drive change at such a vast level?

The importance of interconnections and interdependencies is key for us to function in the organization as one unit. The systemic coaching approach stands relevant now more than ever. This approach celebrates individual uniqueness while maximizing organizational performance. Systemic coaching aligns personal goals with organizational goals. It also helps the organization better understand the individuals’ needs and aspirations. In turn, it builds the relationship between the individuals and the team, and the team and the organization as a whole. This has been linked to better performance across the board, especially in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world.

Echoing the significance of systemic coaching, Jitendra Das, Senior Director of Human Resources at MoveinSync, talked about his experience of undergoing 1:1 coaching and how he found something missing. “Many a time, we realized that 100% results were not coming up and we wondered what the reason was. It is because we understand that it’s not about one individual changing. To change the entire experience of the individual, can we also change the context and get others along? There are five leaders and you are coaching everyone individually, but if they don’t come together, will it result in an optimum organizational change?

Sunil Shah, CEO of Societe Generale Global Solutions Center, also put forward an important point about group coaching. For him, group coaching is an idea to enable the group towards an objective vis-a-vis leadership coaching which also has its place but, as he put it, “it’s much more related to development.”

Giving the analogy of automobiles, Ujjaval Buch, Associate Trainer with Coacharya, rightly indicated that if a small part in a car is not working, we work on fixing it rather than just disowning it. Likewise, if any part of my people’s machinery is not working, can I really say that I am working? That’s the larger systemic approach.

When we talk about coaching, there is often a perception that it’s a remedial intervention. However, it’s far more than just that; it’s a mindset that when practiced, transforms the way in which we approach everyday conflicts and challenges. Smita talked about the significance of introducing coaching in schools and colleges. “It’s not about correction, it’s about children and youngsters learning it as a life skill that is not just applicable to their professional world, but will definitely help them in their personal lives as well.”

Organizations thrive when individual goals are aligned with the needs of the company. As Coacharya Founder Ram Ramanathan pointed out, we often celebrate champions, but those champions are hollow if there isn’t a team or other people to offer support. Summing it up, he said, “If you’re a leader, first check how people behave when you have a so-called team. Can we have structures and systems in an organization where you celebrate the individual, but also celebrate the team along with their doing?

Our interaction with the corporate leaders was an insight into how the world has shifted from the old leadership styles to be more open, vulnerable, empathetic, and collaborative. We saw some endearing perspectives emerge about systemic coaching interventions and how larger teams and the organization have to be incorporated into an individual’s growth.

What are your thoughts on being a leader in 2023? How do you define leadership? We would love to hear from you. Please share your views with us on CoachNook or in the comments below.

Yamini Kandpal
Yamini Kandpal

Yamini

Yamini Kandpal works as a Content Specialist at Coacharya. With a background in writing and editing as part of journalism, she has found her own corner in the stories of the coaching world. While away from work, you can find her traveling or scribbling her musings in a notebook.

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