Bangkok post> Jobs > Career guide

Coaching a CEO to be a coach

'Coach Kriengsak, you've been coaching me for the past six months," Darin says. "This is our last session, so I want to talk about coaching my direct reports."

"Khun Darin, what do you have in mind?"

"I have four direct reports. But I'm not sure how many I should start with."

"What options do you have?"

"I could start with all four at the same time or start with only one person as an experiment."

"What other options are there?"

"I could possibly start with two or three people. Which option is the best?"

"Khun Darin, I think there are three things you should consider when you evaluate your options: your coaching skills, the willingness of each person to be coached, and the working environment surrounding your direct reports."

She thinks for a few seconds and says, "Considering these three requirements, I'd like to start with only one person as a pilot project. Now I have to decide which one of the four people would be the best 'guinea pig'."

"Khun Darin, from my experience, the people who benefit the most from executive coaching have these qualities: willingness to change — they don't need to be forced; an open-minded attitude, and a clear career goal. As well, they are already successful in their current role and ready to grow to the next level."

"I think Khun Sutas meets all these qualities," she tells me.

"What would be the first action you take when coaching him?"

"I have to ensure that he wants to be coached by me first. He has three of the four qualities you mentioned but I will need to be absolutely sure of the first one: willingness to be coached."

"That's a great idea. After all, we can't change people who don't want to change. How do you plan to assess his willingness to participate?"

"I'll arrange an appointment with him and will begin going over his individual development plan (IDP). Based on that, I will ask him which area that he thinks I could be helpful as a coach for him."

"That's good. What potential subject do you think he might pick?"

"I think the subject of dealing with ambiguity will need more work. This is an area where he performs well at his current level. But if he wants to be a CEO in the next three years, he needs to be even better in this area."

"Good. Let's assume that your first meeting is going well. He agrees to be coached and the subject is mutually decided. What will the next step be?"

"We'll need to discuss a basic schedule. Do you have some ideas on this?"

"It depends on the coaching topic, the availability of both parties in terms of time and locations. My preferred approach is to have frequent meetings in the beginning and after three or six months, we can meet at the less frequent intervals."

"Coach, I think I'll ask him based on the criteria you suggested. He probably will ask for my suggestions as well. If he asks, I will propose that we could meet every two weeks for the first three months and change to meeting every three weeks after that for another three months. Then, we will evaluate our progress after the first six months."

"Khun Darin, what else do you need to do to prepare yourself in order to ensure that the coaching programme with Khun Sutas is going well?"

"I think I have good listening skills, but I need to learn more about asking great coaching questions. What do I need to do?"

"I recommend two books for you to learn more about coaching questions: Quiet Leadership by David Rock, and Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore."

"Thank you, Coach. But I could also use some basic tips for a coaching rookie like me."

"Sure. If you want to use questions to facilitate people's thinking, here are my suggestions:

"Inform the person you're coaching first that you will ask them to think for themselves a lot. The benefit is that we are unique individuals. The way we approach each problem and come up with solutions depends very much on our individual mental model. Hence, a good coach will ask a good question to help people discover their own solution.

"Always ask for permission before asking, because asking people to think is quite a demanding task. If people are not ready to be asked, you won't get an answer.

"In the beginning, pose your question in a way that offers alternatives, for example: 'There are two possible solutions to this problem: option a and option b. Which one do you think fits you best?' When the person responds to your question, thank him and compliment him on the most helpful parts of the answer.

"After each session, do some self-reflection by asking yourself: What went well? What went wrong? What could be done differently? It's a learning process."

"Thank you, Coach."

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