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stairs-to-anspirition-4-clIf even the best athletes in the world have coaches, why not you and me? Good question. Many of us probably do, for small issues that require attention. However, the more senior we become, the nature of the coaching takes on a different complexion altogether and that’s where executive coaching comes in.

Collectively, companies spend billions of dollars on attracting, recruiting, developing and retaining top talent. Once we begin to prove our mettle, the investment continues through various learning events and programmes, some of which can be fairly expensive. High-potential employees even get the benefit of advanced management courses at the best business schools in the world. All of these efforts contribute to the growth of the employee as well as the company through actions that the employee takes subsequently. Executive coaching is one such activity in the development process.

Although this idea has been around for over two decades in most other countries, it hasn’t caught on in Pakistan. There are a number of reasons for this: lack of awareness, lack of coaches and our aversion to any intervention that may make us look as if we need ‘help’. This is why one needs to be careful about introducing this as part of the development process.

Unless there is a really disruptive behaviour that needs to be addressed, executive coaching should be part of the wider company development for its senior executives. The starting point should be: ‘This is where you are, and this is where your potential should take you.’ The coach works with the ‘coachee’ on bringing to light professional or personal issues that may be getting in the way of the individual’s progress and helping him/her work through them.

A few things need to be stressed before you embark on this journey.

First, it must be an integral part of your company’s talent development system. Next, when individuals are selected, the purpose must be made clear so that they go into the coaching relationship with trust. Third, since this is an expensive proposition, making this available for everyone is not a good idea. Fourth, make sure you have confidentiality agreements worked into the arrangement to facilitate a trusting relationship.

When selecting a coach, you need to take into consideration their experience (in coaching as well as overall work/life) and their credibility. Some coaches go the ‘psychological’ route while others use a combination of corporate tools and their own life experiences to show the light.

Lastly, as the individual being coached may develop insights about his life and value system, it is quite possible he may realise that he is not in a place professionally where he thinks he should be and may decide to leave the organisation. You should be prepared for this.

– Leon Menezes
The writer is an executive coach, senior HR practitioner,professor and writer.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on December 8, 2013.