Bangkok post> Jobs > Career guide

Integrating coaching and teaching

After 38 years in the corporate world including 11 successful years in Thailand, Frederic Borgoltz decided to change careers, from retail business executive to executive coach.

For the past six months, I have been coaching him to help him take on his new role. Last week, I met him to follow up on his coaching experiences, and he started the conversation enthusiastically.

"Coach Kriengsak, three months ago I began to coach Khun Linda, the chief executive of an outsourcing firm taking care of 3,000 staff. I'm very proud of her development," he told me, continuing for several minutes without missing a beat.

During one of his pauses, I quietly intervened. "Frederic, what specific changes did you see in her? Could you highlight three key improvements?"

"Oh sorry, Coach. You know how passionate I can get."

We both laughed.

"Coach, after six 90-minute sessions over three months, I noticed a transformation in Linda and a new way of thinking. I saw three major changes:

- Her mindset was moving from an internal focus to a customer focus.

- Her business relationship is moving away from that of vendor-customer to more of a partnership with the customers.

- She presents business cases with facts and figures now, unlike in the past when she offered a lot of vague comments and gut feeling."

"Frederic, I'm impressed. What did you do to help her change?"

"First I asked her to do an online psychometric test from Gallup's StrengthsFinder. The test showed her potential — or what they call the top five talents — from a list or 34 characteristics. Then she gave me some practical examples of each of her talents and how she used them daily. I was fascinated by her self- awareness of her strengths. Usually, we know our weaknesses better that our strengths."

"What came next?"

"I asked her what her company's dream was for the next five years. She answered with vague terms such as 'new business development'. I challenged her about her choices, probed more for facts, figures, business objectives, targets and so on. She then began to reformulate her answers so that they were more specific, simpler and more rational."

"How did you challenge her without making her lose face?"

"Before we started coaching, I set a norm with her that I would be an honest and direct sounding board for her. We agreed that I'm not displaying any bad intentions if I challenge her. I'm doing it for her own benefit because she's the chief executive and her staff would not dare to disagree with her — even if she's wrong.

"Because she's young and smart with a Western educational background, she accepted this norm quite easily.

"During our six sessions, we had a lot of fruitful discussions. But what was interesting was how I was able to help her to maximise what her company was already doing well."

"Tell me more, Frederic."

"I asked her to do a S.W.O.T. analysis of the company first. Then, I asked her to repeat the exercise based on its main customers. I believe this is an important exercise because we want to know what the Strengths are in terms of the market and also in terms of the customer targets, along with the Weaknesses, the Opportunities as well as the Threats.

"Again, usually we know our competitors' strengths better than our own. From this exercise Linda learned that she could do much more with existing customers by transferring some of the best practices from one customer to the others."

"That's great Frederic. Your powerful questions helped to promote business development without any investment. What else?"

"Coach Kriengsak, in addition to powerful questions, I shared with her my management experience by introducing a tool I call a communication plan. Specifically, this is a tool that we use to define what message to communicate, with whom to communicate, which communication media to use, and when. This communication plan helped her to learn more about how to mobilise all of her stakeholders in order to achieve her goals."

"This sounds like a case of the right tool, with the right message to the right person at the right time."

"Good summarising, Coach."

"Frederic, I think what you've done is an integration of Coaching and Teaching. It's becoming your own unique approach — call it the Frederic Model."

"Well, it seems to be working. After I finished coaching Linda, she recommended one of her partners as a new client for me."

"Congratulations. If you take on a new client, is there anything you would differently?"

"Sometimes I ask questions that are too difficult to answer. On a few occasions I saw a puzzled face once I finished asking something. Then, I adapted by reframing the question. In the future, I need to ensure in my mind that my question is simple and powerful enough before I ask it."

"That's good, Frederic. Let's stop here for today."

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