From captain to coach

From captain to coach

A CEO balances the roles of a business leader, a steward of corporate assets and a fallible human being. These roles often have conflicting demands, and may leave the CEO feeling that there’s no way to win.

One option out of this dilemma is for the CEO to be a coach.

In the past, the CEO’s focus was on results. Now, with talent shortages, it is on people.

“Training now needs to be done every day, at every level. The new-age CEO is one who stays behind the curtain and who trains people," says Prince Augustine, president of the Mahindra Group.

The information revolution has empowered everyone. People have been empowered with ideas like never before. It’s not about managing people but managing their ideas. “A leader must be a direction provider now, helping people to club their personal goals with organizational goals, so that they achieve what they want and at the same time enhance the growth of their organizations," says Sridhar Patrachari, CEO of Aqua Logistics. “In the past, CEOs focused on results, but now employees’ awareness levels have gone up,?so paradigms should shift to people," he adds.

Looking at the recent Shahrukh Khan film Chak De! India, leaders must know that when the captain of a sports team lifts the cup, the entire credit goes to the coach. How a coach handles various situations, people, and professional and personal problems of his players affect the overall performance of the team. A coach reserves the power to change the team captain and has the power to raise a reserve player to captainship.

“In the corporate sector, the best example of how the role of a CEO has evolved is N.R. Narayana Murthy of Infosys, now the chief mentor of the company. He is playing the perfect role of a coach. The growth of Infosys is exemplary and the credit goes to Murthy’s coaching and mentoring abilities," says Gaurav Verma, a human resources (HR) professional from Heinz India. “How a CEO is perceived by his people plays a pivotal role when we talk about the transition of his role from being a captain to a coach. If his way of doing things has brought success to the company, then it is the best time for him to share his ways of doing day-to- day things and shaping long-term goals," he adds.

Relationships become the key to effective sharing of information. Collaborative relationships create connections inside the organization, which are required to put its strategic intent into practice. These relationship interconnections are referred to as “thought partnerships."

More specifically, a thought partnership is a relationship formed among two or more people, in a value-creating enterprise, for the purpose of generating social or intellectual value. Thought partnerships are the fundamental ingredients needed for any successful collaborative relationships between the CEO/coach and his/her team. No team can afford to have “victim thinking" or “finger-pointing." To stay positive and productive, leaders must be able to adjust their own attitudes when discouragements or unwelcome situations come their way. And they must encourage those they lead, to do likewise.

With a variety of easy-to-use “attitude adjustments", leaders learn to accept and even profit from difficult changes and crises, instead of resenting and resisting them. Being authoritative and dictatorial is good when you have people who are not responsive to change, and happy and content with the way they are doing their job. But when the same set of people are responsive, have an urge to grow, and wish to be progressive, then dictatorship will not work.

It’s all about growing organizations, not the individual.