Myths and Re­al­i­ties of Ex­ec­u­tive Coach­ing in Thai­land

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Contents - Writ­ten by: Kriengsak Niratpattanasai

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai

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