Business coaching is still a relatively new field in India, but it has been catching up in recent times. While coaching has made inroads into most organisations as they see the value that it brings to their leaders and culture as it delivers sustainable change in behaviours and performance, the application of the same principles to business is somewhat limited.
As a business coach, people often ask me how a business coach adds value and but before I get into that, let me help paint the persona of an ideal business coach. As the word suggests, a business coach is someone who understands business and who is also accomplished in the art and science of coaching. Ideally, the person should have successfully run their own business or should have managed senior business leadership roles with P&L responsibilities. Their understanding of business will help them appreciate the context in which companies are run and managed; and, form a hypothesis of what can add value to the company. And, their coaching skills will help them create awareness in the business owner for the need for change and drive them to action – first to test the hypothesis and then implement the same.
So, how does a Business Coach add value?
· A business coach is not a consultant, and hence their views are not prescriptive, they work with the owner to co-create the journey which the business should take.
· A business coach doesn’t only look at the business. They also see the aspirations and motivations of owners who have created and are managing these businesses.
· Business coaches also work as a bridge between different stakeholders. I have run engagements where I have been a coach to two brothers running a business and also, a father and son, where the father created the company, and now the son wants to run the family business differently. In situations, such as these, often there are underlying tensions which may not be aired but which prevent the company from developing to the next level. A coach can play a very constructive role in finding an aligned path on how to take the business forward.
· Consultants typically have short-term engagements, from 4-8 weeks, and if they are engaged long term, as advisors, then they tend to behave more like employees. A business coach can manage the dichotomy of being ‘with you’ and still being ‘an outsider’.
· A business coach helps get an ‘outside-in’ view. The business owner may understand his business very well. Still, he doesn’t have as much time to understand the environment, which is changing very fast and every little change is having a magnified impact on businesses these days. While some of these changes around can add tremendous value to your company, but at the same time, these also have the potential to destroy your business model virtually overnight. Business coaches can help you pivot your business, allowing you to stay with the changing times.
· Business owners can be very lonely, just like senior leaders. They don’t have any sounding boards, since everyone they can speak to seem to have an interest of their own or the business owner is at least suspicious that they may have a selfish interest. A business coach can be that sounding board and emotional support when it comes to business challenges.
· In my engagements, I come across owners who continue to run their businesses, even if they are making losses, either due to emotional reasons or sometimes, I even get to hear, what will I do if I close this business down. A business coach can help you think through such dilemmas, considering both personal and business aspects.
· Most importantly, a Business coach can help the business owner evolve into not only a better business person but also a better individual, by tweaking softer things like attitude and behaviours and looking at life beyond business.
It is time for business owners to ask themselves ‘Are they running the business or is the business running them?’ I am almost sure that once they decide to take the first step of trying out a business coach, they will realise the value that they can bring to their business.
But there is no way of knowing this, without experiencing it!
You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water – Rabindranath Tagore