The Value of Institutionalising Coaching as a Strategic Business Function in Your Company

We speak with Priyanka Kapur - an influential coach and HR leader, passionate about People Strategy, Coaching, Digitisation in Learning, Talent and Organisational Development. Over the past 15 years, she has been associated with major industry leaders like ZS Associates, Bajaj Allianz Group and ICICI Lombard. In her current role with ZS Associates, Priyanka is responsible for shaping and strengthening the coaching culture while navigating the complexities of increasing scale and growth.

As a PCC-ICF, having coached over 1000 leaders within varied organisations and industries, she shares with us some of her candid views on coaching.

Priyanka, you are a Professional Certified Coach credentialed by the International Coaching Federation. What does being a coach mean to you?

Coaching in its true sense offers a non-judgmental space for any individual. Being a coach, to me, means holding that safe space for my coachees and/or clients. A conversation, which empowers them to bring their most authentic selves to their coach. An engagement, from which they walk out feeling empowered and ‘wowed’ with themselves.

You are very passionate about institutionalising coaching as a strategic function within organisations. Can you tell us more?

I feel very passionately about taking coaching from its current state, which is usually a small group of coaches attempting to coach a select few leaders in silos, to institutionalising coaching via democratising and digitising it as an offering within organisations and making it accessible to all employees. This disruption in the coaching industry is imminent.

By democratising coaching, we are enhancing the accessibility of coaching across all levels within an organisation. Coaching should not be available only to a select few. In fact, most organisations think of only ‘leadership or executive’ interventions and programs as they think of coaching. Coaching, instead, should be available to any

employee who wants to be coached on any agenda of their choice. I personally experience a lot of joy and learn a lot, coaching the youth and leaders alike. In my personal experience, I find coaching at the mid-management level most relevant to business benefit. Meaningfully designed coaching programs and journeys can positively impact business performance and shape the future leaders of tomorrow.

Digitisation in coaching to me simply means, finding a way to integrate technological advancements with systemic change & coaching needs for an organisation. For example, as the scale of any organisation grows, talent development and talent retention become two key business priorities. Developing the new talent and retaining existent ones becomes essential. Coaching alone can provide that singular and personalised approach for every employee to feel heard, enable high performance, realise their full potential and thereby enhance the sense of belongingness talent feels towards their organisation.

Digitisation would enable ‘anytime’ and ‘anywhere’ coaching. No employee has to wait in a queue or be part of a select few to be coached irrespective of their time zone, location or the nature of the coaching dilemma.

If you have a clear understanding of your business priorities, a closely aligned coaching strategy can create the requisite impact by creating a landing strip for the emerging future of any organisation.

I invite all the leaders across the globe to suspend their voice of judgment, connect with their inner sense of curiosity & wonder and ask themselves, ‘What has not been tried in coaching yet within our organisation?’

What is your opinion on the use of Artificial Intelligence in coaching?

I see polarised views when it comes to the utility of artificial intelligence in coaching. We cannot overlook the fact that the ‘A’ in AI stands for artificial and coaching in its true sense means having a very ‘humane’ interaction.

Having said that, I do see organisations experimenting with focused use cases to bring these technological advancements in coaching to support growing scale and widen the reach of coaching to serve their people.

One must be extremely intuitive to hold a coaching conversation, exercise deep listening and ask powerful questions that challenge the coachee and provoke insight generation within them. Continual understanding of evolving human behaviour combined with the use of innovation in artificial intelligence would be the right direction to explore for the coaching industry.

Even if organisations institutionalise coaching, will a coaching department be able to service all coaching needs within the organisation?

Yes! It will take a lot of effort, patience, and technological advancement to build a sustainable coaching practice, but it can definitely be done. In my opinion, relational grounding always helps.

Connecting the dialogue & insights that generate through conversations with your people, to the global organisational goals and strategy is the key here.

This would mean starting by understanding your ‘real’ people & business challenges, given your business demographics, that coaching can solve for. This can be followed by designing, thought through coaching journeys, with a clear view of the measurable impact each intervention can create. Moreover, empowering ‘Managers and Leaders to become a Coach’ through valedictory coach certification and credentialing programs can be looked at.

One of my personal learnings has also been that it is of extreme importance to have leaders who have experienced coaching and believe in the power of coaching, as your sponsors. It makes a sea of a difference to partner with a leader who feels as passionately about coaching as you do, to strengthen the coaching culture. I have been immensely grateful to have partnered with a few in my journey.

What makes coaching a compelling industry to be in?

The global coaching industry is rapidly growing. It is now approximately a $2.489 billion revenue industry (+21% growth YoY) with a +33% increase in the number of coach practitioners and now with a +46% increase in the count of managers/ leaders using coaching skills at work. Asia itself has seen a +124% increase in Managers, Leaders, Directors and CEOs undergoing coach-specific trainings and credentialing. There is more data and statistics one can locate as a part of the ICF Global Study 2020. Coaching is becoming a life skill.

How has coaching benefited you as a coach?

For me, coaching is becoming the conversational language and a way of life. It has heightened my level of self-awareness as an individual and helps me live by my values. Each of my coachee–client relationships is unique and amazing in their own way and I am left awed, enriched, and vitalised after each coaching engagement.

Coaching makes me a better human being and an effective leader.

What are some forms of coaching you enjoy?

I have enjoyed each coaching conversation and continue to cherish them. Some forms of coaching I experiment with are coaching for performance, coaching for growth mindset, coaching for behaviour – habit building, coaching on purpose & values, use or neuroscience in coaching, somatic coaching, to name a few. These forms of coaching can be delivered for our youth and leadership alike.

I am an ardent student of systemic change and I feel fascinated with the power of bringing a systemic approach to coaching. Studying the change an organisation goes through, combined with enhanced awareness to co-evolve the coaching innovation ecosystem through creating sustainable coaching infrastructures would be a magical learning experience.

About ZS Associates:

ZS is a global professional services firm that leverages deep industry expertise, leading-edge analytics, technology and strategy to create solutions for clients that work in the real world.


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