Myths and Realities of Executive Coaching in Thailand
Executive coaching is a new tool for leadership development in Thailand so it is natural that there is some misunderstanding about it. This article aims to provide insight into executive coaching in Thailand and address the myths and realities of this discipline.
In the first part I will try to explain the what, why, and how of executive coaching. In the second part I will focus on the myths and realities of executive coaching in Thailand.
WHAT is EXECUTIVE COACHING?
Executive coaching is a process by which a coach facilitates an executive’s journey toward better self- awareness. Put in different words, an executive coach is a facilitator who act as a thinking companion. If we explore the meaning of some of these words we will get a better understanding of executive coaching is and what it is not. ‘ Companion’ implies equality. There is no hierarchy in the coach- coachee relationship. ‘ Facilitator’ means that the role of the coach is to help the coachee obtain the answer they seek rather than to provide the answer.
To illustrate the definition, let me present you with a hypothetical situation and explore two different scenarios.
Scenario 1: I have a friend whose name is Fredric. He just bought an Apple TV and he invited me to his home to show it to me. When we settled int o his comfortable home theater room, he was unfortunately unable to find the remote control and could not operate the Apple TV. As a good friend, I helped him look f or the remote. After 15 minutes, the home theater was a mess and the remote was still nowhere to be found. Needless to say, our movie night was a failure.
Scenario 2: Frederic wanted to show me his new Apple TV. Unfortunately, he was unable to find the remote. Instead of helping him look for it, I asked him a couple of questions. “When did you last use it?” I said. “Last night,” he answer ed, “I left it on the table.” “Has this happened before?” I continued. “Yes,” he said, “with the old model. My son watched a movie and left the remote in his bedroom.” As soon as he said that, his eyes lit up and he ran up the stairs to his son’s bedroom, returning seconds later with the remote in hand. We were then able to enjoy our movie night.
Scenario 2 is an example of the executive coach as a thinking companion.
WHY DOES AN EXECUTIVE NEED A COACH?
As I said above, a coach can help the executive on the road to better self- aware- ness. Eric Schmidt of Google famously said: “The one thing people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them. A coach really, really helps.” Similarly, Tevin Vongvanich, the new CEO of PTT, said in an interview for Bangkok Biz News: “I also have a coach. I don’t know everything. I’m not a well- rounded person.”
From my 12 years of experience as a coach, I can pinpoint three common reasons why executives in Thailand hire a coach:
From good to great – these are people who are already successful and want to do and be better. They could be CEOS or C- suite executives.
Succession planning – this is for people who have been identified as successors in key positions such as Clevel executives or CEOS.
The sounding board – some executives hire coaches when they need someone to challenge them or give them feedback when they make mistakes.
HOW DOES EXECUTIVE COACHING WORK?
Executive coaching consists of several phases: checking chemistry, diagnosis; design, and dialogue.
Like all other relationships, coaching works best when there is chemistry between the coach and the coachee. After the presence or absence of chemistry is established during an informal meeting, the coach diagnoses the coachee’s strengths and weaknesses through psychometric tests and interviews, analyzes the findings and presents them in
a report format. The coach and coachee then jointly design the coaching plan and implement it through usually 12 sessions of dialogue.
Typical outcomes from coaching are:
• Better self- awareness;
• Better knowledge of the implications of one’s behavior;
• New mindset on communication and collaboration;
• New mindset on team management;
• Better use of coaching- by- questions.
MYTHS AND REALITIES OF EXECUTIVE COACHING in THAILAND
The most common myth I encounter when coaching in Thailand is that the point of coaching is to address weaknesses. Many organizations believe that if their executive has a noticeable weakness, then hiring a coach will solve the problem. In reality this is rarely the case. Eliminating weaknesses and changing undesirable behavior is very difficult. The behavior might be suppressed during the coaching period, but many coachees will go back to autopilot and start repeating the same behavior after a few months. What we can do is help coachees become more self- aware and understand their weaknesses, where they come from and how they affect their behavior.
The reality is that a focus on strength has a much better return on investment.
The second myth I see repeated is that only poor performers need a coach. In fact, poor performance has a lot to do with flaws in the performance management system of the company. In many cases, it is not the right fit of competencies or the right fit of values between executive and company.
The reality is that an executive who is already a good performer and wants to be great will benefit the most.
The last myth I hear is that everyone can be coached. This myth ignores the element of willingness. When the boss sends someone to be coached without them having expressed a desire to be coached, chances are that those coaching sessions are not going to be very successful.
The reality is that coaching only works if the coachee voluntarily submits to it. We cannot change people who don’t want to change.
Kriengsak Niratpattanasai is founder of The Coach, author of the book Bridging the Gap, and a Bangkok Post columnist. He can be contacted at coachkriengsak@ yahoo. com.