Inspire  .  Aspire  .  Achieve  .  Grow

April 2011
Suyog Raulgaonkar

Dear Reader,

As the adage goes ‘the only thing that is constant is change’, so we have altered the look of Empowering Times to provide you with an enhanced reading experience; you can call it the Version 2. Also I have filled in Geetanjali’s shoes, as she is out of action for a few months for personal reasons. I hope you like Version 2 and I look forward to your feedback so that we are compelled to give you a Version 3 before Apple launches the iPad 3!

The Indian team re-created history by winning the cricket world cup after 28 long years and the celebratory walk of the team showed the level of excitement at the culmination. But one thing that stood out was the exaltation of the Indian Coach which directly points to the important role he played in making it happen. So how important is the Coach’s role in any given situation? What role does a Coach play in an organizational setting and how can businesses use Coaching to achieve success? If you are intrigued by these questions, I can assure you that this month’s ET will help you demystify your doubts.

As business complexities grow and learning becomes the norm for long-term organizational sustainability, the concept of the ‘Leader as Coach’ has come to the forefront. In Thinking Aloud, Rohan delves deeper into the concept and tells us that if we take a cross-sectional view of successful organizations, the ‘Leader as the Coach’ lies at the core.

In this Issue:

Thinking Aloud: Leader as Coach - Rohan Shahane

Podium: Interview with Adil Malia, Group President - Human Resources at Essar

Between the Lines: Can Coaches deliver?

Standing Ovation: Prayatna - School for People with Special Needs

Figures of Speech
By Vikram Nandwani
The Podium this month features Adil Malia, Group President – Human Resources at Essar. An HR specialist and alumni of TISS, Adil manages 70,000 people at the Essar Group. In a tête-à-tête with ET, Adil talks about Coaching as being distinct from other development initiatives and what are the criteria for selection of a Coach and how to measure the results of Coaching.

Between the Lines this month features the review of a classic book titled ‘Coaching for Leadership’ by Marshall Goldsmith, Laurence Lyons & Alyssa Freas. The book is resourceful for all who seek to comprehend the basics as well as advanced concepts of Coaching.

From this month we are introducing an additional section, titled 'Standing Ovation' which aims at recognizing the efforts of NGO's in helping the needy. This month's issue features 'Prayatna' the Pune based NGO, which assists children and adults with special learning needs.

In Figures of Speech Vikram portrays Coaching in toonland!

As always, we value your opinion, so do let us know about how you liked this issue. To visit our previous issues you can visit the Media & Archives section on the website or simply Click Here.


Leader as Coach - Rohan Shahane
While traveling recently, I chanced upon a very animated conversation on leaders and leadership. A perennial subject you might say, that pops-up besides the other two all time favorites – “growing taxes” and “state-of-affairs”.
As it happens, there were as many views as participants, each quoting a diverse array of examples on leadership ranging from mythology, history, politics, business, spirituality and sports. After all, with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 on, it was understandable that leaders from other sport were not in the “playing eleven”.

I was observing a particular co-traveler who, after someone had spoken, rushed to summarize what had been said. He was doing this with religious consistency, not wanting to let down any speaker perhaps. When somebody finally invited him to share his own two cents, he beamed and proclaimed - “you know what, irrespective of the field, one thing common about leaders is that they know and show the way”.

That sounded familiar and agreeable. However, I could not stop thinking about this end statement. Is it really necessary for leaders to know and show the way? Will they be any less if they are not able to live up to such expectations? More importantly, what do leaders do when they do not know or cannot show the way?!

It boils down to asking - what is the true essence of a leader/leadership?

Here’s a choice I ask you to make. Pick a statement that resonates with you best:

  1. A good leader provides “direction”
  2. A good leader inspires “discovery”

Did I hear “unfair options”? Indeed there are times when a leader needs to provide direction and tell the “what and how”. However, the point is, how often do they need to be this way? How healthy is it for the system if they are required to continue being this way?

Inspiring discovery, on the other hand, essentially means putting trust in the team/individual's ability to figure things out. It is about being patient and compassionate. It is about building stronger self-belief and confidence. It is, in the true sense of the word, about transitioning leadership. Leaders who practice this approach are, in essence, playing the role of a Coach - What we often refer to as “Leader as Coach”.

The International Coach Federation (ICF - defines Coaching as a thought-provoking and creative partnership process that inspires people to maximize their personal and professional potential.

  • They listen more than they speak
  • They ask questions more than they give answers
  • They trust people to have the ability to figure things out
  • They actively encourage and support self-development goals
  • They challenge people to maximize their potential
  • They give timely, specific feedback
  • They respect diversity of views, thoughts and opinions

As business cycles and environment change, organizations need to stay aligned to their goals on a continuous basis. It has long been established that a learning organization is more responsive to changes due to its ability to remain flexible and adaptive through accelerated learning.

Coaching has been identified as one such vehicle that enables successful transitions for businesses, teams and individuals. No surprises then that when you dig deep into organizations that have sustained their business success over reasonably long cycles, there beats the heart of Coach in a leader.

As Peter F. Drucker famously said “The leader of the past knew how to tell. The leader of the future will know how to ask.”

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Adil Malia, Group President - Human Resources at Essar
Adil Malia, Group President - Human Resources at Essar joined the company in August 2006 and heads the Human Resources function for the diversified group which employs 70,000 people worldwide. Adil has done his Bachelor's in Commerce and Law and a Master's degree in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. He also holds a Diploma in Business Management and a Diploma in International Trade & Finance.
Adil began his career with the Godrej Group and his professional journey of 31 years is marked by key milestones at various reputed organizations such as GE Appliances, Al Futtaim Group (Middle East) and Coca Cola India. He is a trained facilitator and a certified trainer and has done extensive work in areas of Strategic Leadership and Organization Development in multi-cultural business environments with large MNCs and Indian organizations. He is a visiting faculty at eminent business schools in India and a frequent speaker at business seminars and conferences.
In 2009 Adil was bestowed the HR “Grand Master” Award at the Asia Pacific HR Congress. On 03 September 2010, Adil was awarded the first “Tarun Seth Memorial Award” for Excellence in HR Leadership at the Asia Pacific HR Congress in Bangalore. An avid reader of management literature, Adil’s recent articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal as well as The Economic Times.

ET:  How is Coaching different from other development initiatives for managers & how do you decide who need Coaching?

AM: Every organization has its unique set of capabilities, which help in building organizational architecture, which in turn help in creating organizational value. This capability is the knowledge and experience of doing business.

Coaching is transference of this knowledge to the next generation of managers. It is a learning process which builds continuity of developing the unique capabilities and creates organizational value. This knowledge, which builds organizational capability, is not structured. We have plenty of learning alternatives where structured knowledge has to be transferred. And, Coaching is one methodology which works well to transfer unstructured body of knowledge.

Coaching can be for any person in the organization. It can be for people who perform their job well and for people who don’t perform so well. Primarily, it is for people who are likely to take up enterprise-wide roles in some time and performance needs to be enhanced.

ET: What are the criteria for selecting a Coach?

AM: First of all, there has to be some clarity in the concepts of Coaching and Mentoring. Coaching is for developing a particular skill set or capability in a person. So when you select a Coach, he has to be an icon widely recognized for those skills. He also has to have the ability to bring out the best in others. Then, you put a person under him to develop those skills.

Mentoring is at the spiritual level, where you are looking at having an all -round development of the person. A mentor may even guide the person to get Coached under different Coaches for developing particular skills.

ET: How do you measure the results of Coaching?
AM: The results of Coaching can be seen only over a period of time based on improvement in performance. Therefore, one cannot hurry the process. We have to give ample time of about 6 – 12 months so that the Coach and Coachee engage deeply thereby addressing the Coaching need.

ET: Could you please share Essar’s approach to Coaching as part of the management development initiatives?

AM : The method which I explained above is the Essar’s way of Coaching as Management Development Initiative.
ET: Some large organizations today are setting up their own Internal Coaches, what are the advantages of this practice over hiring External Coaches?

AM: We recommend Internal Coaches when we have to develop organization specific capability in our people. As an organization, there are specific capabilities we want to develop in our managers and future leaders, and for such capability development, we prefer taking Internal Coaches. There is a wide plethora of unique capabilities to be developed like the culture, beliefs and values of the organization, we select Internal Coaches for such developmental needs.

However, there are significant benefits of having External Coaches. For example, when an overall general managerial capability is concerned, or in situations where a seasoned External input would be valuable, we look at External Coaches.

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Can Coaches deliver?
With Guru Gary hanging up his boots at the end of the World Cup, accolades have not stopped pouring in, with every member of the team mentioning that the Coach’s hand was a vital factor in their performance. So, how does the Coach operate? Where does his magic spring from? Well, the answer lies in the simple but powerful definition of what a Coach really does: ‘A Coach helps people become more than what they realize they can be’.
How does this work in the business world where Executives are fighting to stay relevant in the face of competition? To get pointers to these questions turn to, ‘Coaching for Leadership’, an old classic from the Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer stable.

This is a seminal work put together by Marshall Goldsmith, Laurence Lyons & Alyssa Freas. The book is a valuable compendium to all who seek both basic & advanced input on how Coaching works. More importantly, with everyone claiming to be a Coach, it is useful to know (as the book’s sub-title suggests), ‘How the world’s greatest Coaches help leaders learn’.
The book covers a wide array of issues, beginning with foundations to exploring practices & techniques of Coaching. Right at the outset, we have a piece on ‘Coaching at the heart of strategy’ wherein Laurence Lyons highlights a key point that Coaching is potentially both high-impact & high-risk. Since dialogue is central to Coaching and the External Coach has no formal functional authority, it is the Coach’s skill that generates considerable influence.

At a time when Coaching is the new magic wand, it is salutary to note Marshall Goldsmith’s blunt comment that there are times where behavioral Coaching is a waste of time. These situations include:

  • The person you are Coaching is not willing to make a sincere effort to change – a reminder that personal commitment is vital for success & that the ‘Coachee does all the work’
  • The person has been written off by the company – in other words, a Coach is not meant to be the cat’s paw to settle scores
  • The person lacks the intelligence or personal skills to do the job – Coaching is not a panacea for all situations

The best sportsmen re-visit basics from time to time to weed out errors that unknowingly creep into their game. Likewise, I would recommend this book to all Coaches (new & prospective) if they seek powerful insights from the experts in the game to equip themselves in their role as Coaches.

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Prayatna - School for People with Special Needs

Prayatna, is ‘to attempt’, and for the past 14 years Radia and her team have put in untiring efforts to integrate children and adults with special needs with the community.

Prayatna was started 14 years back to bring education, care and vocational training to children and adults with special needs. Having worked as special educators themselves, Mrudula Das, Nafisa Khambata and Radiya Gohil felt that there was a need to provide empathetic care and support to adults (14+) with disabilities thus leading to the creation of an NGO named ‘Prayatna’.

Today, there are 52 students in the age group of 3 to 58 years who receive training at Prayatna. The teachers at Prayatna have to develop different methods of teaching for each child, as every child has a special need. They believe that constructive and meaningful teaching techniques can make a significant difference to the lives of people with special needs and their caregivers. Along with vocational training, the students are given Independence Training and are taught Functional Academics.

Prayatna has been donated 9,000 sq. ft. of land in Kondhwa, Pune and plans to build a customized center to train 100 students and provide respite and residential care when parents/guardians have problems or need a break.

Prayatna has no Government support and depends only on donations from well wishers, and for the toil they go through in making someone else’s life easier and more meaningful, they deserve a Standing Ovation!

If you want to help Prayatna, please visit to know more.

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