Do captains of industry need to be coaches?

Do captains of industry need to be coaches?

I was in a workshop with a group of Managers trying to impart the skills and tools to be coaching oriented in their style.

At the very end of the workshop, one of the participants raised a fundamental question.  He quoted the names of several Indian and global industry captains and founders and asked if any of them were coaching oriented and if that was even necessary. He appeared to be alluding to the idea that it was not necessary for such a style, in order to be successful.

That question certainly set me thinking. Here are some of my reflections, by no means complete. Do join me in the search.

I believe that the job of industry captains, founders of businesses and promoters is different – their job is to help convert ideas into businesses, seize opportunities, create wealth, solve problems of significance and so on. It is not their job to be coaches or even be coaching oriented in their style all the time, especially given the extremely volatile business environments in which they operate and take risks.

Having said that, there are a few things that they have in common with a coach or a coaching oriented leader. Both need to be strong on certain elements of emotional intelligence. Industry captains and entrepreneurs need to be strong on hope and optimism, the desire to actualize, the ability to build and nurture relationships, assert, solve problems, take decisions, manage stress and so on.

Coaches need to have a strong sense of worth, the ability to remain grounded, be empathetic and have hope and optimism, among other things.
While both need emotional intelligence, the dimensions and emphasis might vary and they also use that intelligence differently.

Industry captains who are respected are the ones who demonstrate one important dimension of emotional intelligence that augurs well for coaching, a coaching style and even a coaching oriented culture – a strong social conscience and responsibility. This social conscience in the form of a strong desire to help, make the lives of others better and promote a greater good will go a long way in creating an enabling work culture that demonstrates care and concern.

Given the power and influence they wield, this social conscience can help them support, champion and promote a workplace that cares for employees, their well-being and development – the core of a coaching oriented culture. But then, that is choice. It is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for success in business but certainly a distinguishing one.

In summary, I believe that Captains of industry need not coach but can use their influence to create conditions for such a style and culture to flourish.

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