Bangkok post> Jobs > Career guide

The CEO mindset versus the coach mindset

'Coach Kriengsak, I have just three years left prior to retirement. I want to spend that time as a coach in addition to my current CEO's role," Don tells me. "I want you to coach me to be a good coach for my team."

"Khun Don, what is your preferred learning style: listening to lectures, watching video, or learning by doing?" I ask.

"I prefer to learn by doing."

"Great. But the first step for me in coaching you is to understand your current level of coaching capability. Role-playing can help us do this if you'll agree."

He nods.

"Khun Don, I want to exercise regularly. Please coach me."

"OK, Khun Kriengsak. Why do you want to exercise regularly?"

"I want to be healthier. What would you suggest?"

"You have to set a goal. Then allocate time and just do it. What's your problem?"

"I don't have time."

"No time is an excuse that most people use. You have to start."

I show a time-out sign.

"How did I do, Coach?"

"Khun Don, let me answer you by showing how I would coach you. Would you mind if we took turns?"

He nods.

"Khun Don, now with the same topic, I play the coach and you're my subject."

He starts without missing a beat. "Coach Kriengsak, I want to exercise more. Please help me."

"Khun Don, what is your goal?"

"Now I exercise an average of twice a week. I want to exercise regularly three times a week."

"By when?"

"From next month onward."

"OK, let me do a reality check: You currently exercise twice a week and plan to do three sessions per week. What prevents you from doing it three times a week?"

"I think my commitment."

"What else?"

"That's the key."

"OK, Khun Don, in order to increase from two to three times a week, what options do you have?"

"In order to have a strong commitment to exercise, there are few ways:

1. I can use some automatic system to remind me.

2. I can assign someone to remind me.

3. I can remind myself during morning meditation."

"Which option is the most practical for you?"

"Option 3."

"Now how will you ensure that this determination is properly executed?"

"I will have to announce my plan to all the people surrounding me. I will lose face if I'm unable to follow through."

"Khun Don, let's stop role-playing and do some reflection. What do you think was the difference between these two role-playing exercises?"

"Coach, you used questions to facilitate my thinking, starting with a Goal, then a Reality Check, followed by Options and finally the Will to do it."

"That's the GROW model from the book Coaching for Performance by Sir John Whitmore, the pioneer of executive coaching."

"Oh, I forgot: you started by checking my preferred learning style first."

"Khun Don, during my role-playing, I used the 4-I Coaching Model developed by TheCoach. I started with the first I _ Individualisation _ to understand you as much as I could before coaching. Then, I use the other 3-I's in coaching styles: Instruct _ telling/teaching what I think is good for you; Inspire _ sharing an inspirational story or a quote; or Inquire _ asking questions to facilitate your thinking."

"I use the Instruct approach too much in my role-playing," says Don. "How do I use more Inquiring?"

"Khun Don, in coaching what do you think is the mindset before you start to formulate questions?"

"Trust that the person being coached will find his own solution."

"Good, what else?"

"Each person has a different way of thinking. What works for me may not work for you. Coach Kriengsak, will you 'Inspire' me? What other CEOs have had similar experiences as rookie coaches?"

"Several CEOs have had some experience with executive coaching engagement. They realise that the coaching process is an effective way to help people grow and unleash their potential. Hence, they want to cascade it to their team. The majority of them don't succeed."


"Because the CEO's role is to lead an organisation. Their strengths are: future thinking, good judgement, decisiveness, and in-depth knowledge of their business and industry.

"On the other hand, coaching knowledge workers requires a different kind of mindset. You have to be there at that moment, not thinking about the future. You need to be non-judgemental. You have to be patient by letting the other person think for himself instead of moving ahead to do other things. And lastly, you need to have the 'not a Guru' mindset. You have to trust that the person you're coaching can come up with his or her own solution that is the most practical one for each individual."

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under TheCoach brand. He can be reached at Daily inspirational quotations can be found on his Facebook fan page: Previous articles are archived at