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Meet the CEO Coaches

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Businessworld / India

Citius, Altius, Fortius — that’s what India’s business chiefs need, and that’s what CEO trainers give

The Gurus

But who are these people who make the CEOs what they are or what they want to be — confident, assured, poised? Meet the CEO coaches.

They are impartial observers who push the CEOs to exploit their potential. They don’t pass judgements; only point out strengths and weaknesses. They help others understand how things can be done differently. Ask them what they do and their most common reply is: “Hold up the mirror to the CEO.”

Their guiding principle is: “Ask, don’t tell.” They help the CEOs understand problems rather than give solutions. By asking open-ended questions they facilitate the process of self-discovery and self-motivation.

To Be Or Not To Be Coached

“Though a new phenomena by that name now, CEO coaching has existed in India for the past 30-40 years,” says [Gopal] Shrikanth. Earlier, there were strategic advisors who were essentially management gurus and expat professors who, having spent their formative years in India, would combine a trip to India once or twice a year with some professional linkup with their former batchmates.

… One of the reasons behind asking for external help is age. CEOs today are no longer old men who have spent decades in the industry and learnt through experience. Instead, they are young, mostly in early-to-mid 40s, have all the right degrees and management jargon to spew, full of energy and positive attitude, but often lack the sheer gravitas needed to make the cut. Moreover, expatriates posted in India as well as Indians dealing with foreign bosses now need to understand a lot of cross-cultural nuances. …

One-Man Army

Since coaching is all about the rapport that the coach shares with the CEO, most coaches work with miniscule, boutique teams and are largely a one-man army… CEO coaches are high-flyers who often visit a city or a country just for a half-day session with a client. The rates charged are therefore on a per-hour basis and normal sessions rarely go beyond one hour. At the CEO level, the rates range between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2.4 lakh per hour with expats and global coaches commanding a fee which is on the higher side. The duration of the training and length of the sessions also vary from level to level. At the CEO level the engagements are usually for a year and there are one-hour sessions once a month.

Be it a face-to-face meeting, a telephone call or a Skype session, an increasing number of CEOs are looking for a friend, philosopher and guide, in short, the CEO coach.

[excerpts from Businessworld, 25 October 2010]

by Shalini S. Sharma

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