Soriano: The role of an Asean business coach

A HARVARD University news material articulated it clearly, “The demand for business coaches has never been greater. With business moving at breakneck speed, frequent job shifts, and limited in-house training, professionals of all levels are often grappling with changes. As a result, organizations are in dire need of leaders who can guide their colleagues through workplace challenges, help them improve performance, and lead them through career decisions.”

Business coaching is critical in the life of an organization, more so of a family enterprise. Companies engage them to purposely challenge senior executives to raise the bar and partner with the CEO or business owner to exact standards of performance on everyone. They are also referred to as change agents that are sticklers for “best practices” standards.

An experienced business coach is an enabler and offers the organization with a very clear picture where they can pivot and boost profits. They can also help in untangling certain dynamics amongst owners and executives so they can make better decisions about everything related to human resource, operations all the way to accomplishing the annual and three year strategic plans. In the same breath, if the C-suite executives underperform, the business coach can also be unforgiving.

Business coaching is regarded as one of the fastest growing industries in the world, following the technology industry. As reported by IBIS World, an online market research outfit, it is estimated that 88,000 people work as business coaches in an $11-billion market. The industry is projected to grow at an average of 18 percent per year.

The first use of the term “coaching” to mean an instructor or trainer started around 1830 in Oxford University (slang for a tutor who “carries” a student through an exam). The first use of the term in relation to sports came in 1831.

Historically, the evolution of coaching has been influenced by many other fields of study, including those of personal development, adult education, psychology (sports, clinical, developmental, organizational, social and industrial) and other organizational or leadership theories and practices.

And because of the booming market in Asia, including the emergence of unifying trading blocs like Asean and APEC, business coaching has developed into a more independent discipline that is focused on enhancing the skills set of the owner/entrepreneur, the preparation of a three-year growth plan, relentlessly helping the family business to transition to a governance driven organization and the education of the next generation leaders to become stewards more than owners.

The key ingredient in making the coaching work effective between the owner and the coach is when the values of the family and business are aligned and the shared vision is unequivocally communicated to all the family members and professionals.

Business coaching is very similar to sports coaching. In sports, a coach pushes an athlete to achieve optimum performance, provides support when he/she is exhausted and teaches how to execute plays that competitors do not anticipate.

A sports coach will make you run more laps and make you work harder than you would on your own, even when you don’t feel like it. A sports coach will tell it like it is.

Fortunately, a business coach does many of the same things, but in a way that is focused on creating a successful business minus the challenges or conflict among family members. An effective coach uses simulations, models and various platforms suited to the organization’s ability to adapt to external events as well as regulatory challenges.
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