Month: December 2012

Do we need so many executive coaches

Every few years a particular certification, degree, title gets hyped and everyone wants it until it loses its uniqueness.

Executive Coaching seems to move in that direction. It is that fancy “profession” that gives you quick access to c-level executives and you become guardian angel to these top guys. As their coach you help them streamline their thoughts and bring them sanity. Its a profession that makes you become a sort of healer or ‘medicine man’ to top level executives. And it brings you satisfaction because you are well “helping” and “supporting” someone and it brings you the money because when you talk to top execs you have to charge them a hefty sum.

Women who can’t work full time can certify and associate with one of the many consulting firms supplying coaches – even after the cut you get big money. Mid age executives who were made redundant can do this. After 7-8 years when you feel like you’ve risen above the rest of the people at work, this is a profession to explore. If you don’t want a boss over your head and be able to sort of boss around the top bosses, this profession is for you. Becoming a life coach is a good retirement plan with your grey hair and years of experience.

And there are reputed coaching bodies providing certification if you can stick to your aspirations of becoming a coach.

I have been a coach and I have had coaches. The rising number of ‘Executive Coaches’ bothers me because coaching has to embed in the organisational system and not be only a stand alone entity. That transition is beginning to happen. Leaders are trained to be coaches and it might soon become a requirement for leadership roles. When that happens, these masses of coaches will then switch roles to become trainers training leaders on coaching skills. Their major skillset is coaching which according to me is extremely limiting.

It will be like IT industry in India. When the supply of qualified IT professionals was less than demand, anyone with engineering degree got into IT. Its a waste of education, time, effort of youth.That futuristic perspective needs to be developed. While entire economical growth is not predictable, a fair bit can be anticipated. We need to work in that direction rather than only reacting to the now of situation.

Example of this would be civil engineering which was sort of discarded as a profession 10 years back. It was last choice for anyone going for engineering degree. Civil engineering students learnt computer skills on the side to get into IT industry. No one predicted the surge in construction of townships, office spaces, infrastructure growth in cities where civil engineers will be of value. Funnily enough I know a computer engineer who now does construction project management. Similarly mechanical engineering is a field not many people are interested in because there is less work in that field. The education system needs to modify to either not have mechanical engineering as a separate degree and may be keep it as a degree only to a few universities so that not many kids are making effort in a direction they won’t move towards.

Coaches are of value and no they don’t need to understand clients business to be effective coach. And I know a few excellent coaches. My reservations are with anybody and everybody going for a coaching certification because there is a sudden demand. They are not cut for becoming coaches and are looking at the profession only because it has money or because it brings contentment where they hate their current job. In the long run these people will do NLP or another such certification or become a trainer. There has to be more commitment for the profession to do it justice and sustain it. People doing something because its fancy only ends up spoiling value of that profession. It also does not make for a sustainable profession to work in.