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March 26, 2021 - No Comments!

How-to Guide: How do coaching and mentoring contribute to leadership development?

how to coaching and mentoring contribute to leadership development blog banner

In today’s dynamic and disruptive business environment, the right skills play a critical role in driving future success. High performance starts at the employee level, funneling up to the team or functional level, and further to top leadership. In fact, today’s employees are tomorrow’s leaders, they shall steer the organizational ship in the right direction, taking others along in achieving the business objective. Hence, it is imperative for organizations to invest in the apt leadership development program and learning tools to continuously build future-relevant competencies.

The New-Age Performance Paradigm

Performance management has evolved over the years, from a carrot-stick approach to a developmental focus. The boundaries between performance management and L&D are fast blurring, as new skills are required to navigate the new normal. In a bid to unleash employees’ innovation, energy, and commitment, the corporate leadership training ethos is now more of ‘direct-and-develop’, than ‘command-and-control,. Such democratization and digitalization of learning have compelled organizations to expand their learning offerings to include newer tools, such as learning management software, coaching mentoring, virtual classroom platforms, and holistic learning-experience platforms.


The Need for Coaching-Mentoring as a Leadership Development Tool

Developing leaders is a pan-organizational activity today, not limited to the higher echelons of the corporate hierarchy. With hierarchical silos melting apart in a hyper-connected, digital era, mid-level managers to are expected to lead in their own right. In fact, a fundamental shift is seen in the manager-role; the role of a manager is becoming that of a coach. The modern-day manager is expected to ask questions instead of providing answers, to support employees instead of judging them, and to facilitate their teams’ development instead of dictating what has to be done. Hence, coaching and mentoring find application for leadership development across levels, from mid-level to senior-level employees.

Another important transformation driving the need for coaching-mentoring is the attitude towards capability development. Organizations have realized that continuous learning is the only way to stay relevant and future-ready, and hence, coaching-mentoring may prove a powerful tool to cultivate a continuous learning culture.


Coaching or Mentoring: What is right for your employees?

To effectively use coaching and mentoring for leadership development training, it is important to understand how they differ. Coaching is focused on building specific Knowledge, Skills, and Attitude (KSA), making it more performance-based or role-based for the present needs. Mentoring, on the other hand, is more relationship-based and focuses on holistic development i.e. professional, personal, and even spiritual; and is more ongoing in nature. These differences complement each other, making both modalities valuable and necessary in building sustainable leaders. It is up to L&D to be blend both together in the right manner and curate a powerful, unbeatable offering for developing future leaders.

While the conventional concepts of coaching and mentoring apply, the rise of future-skills such as digital skills and social skills offer organizations the opportunity to institutionalize reverse-mentoring- a concept where young employees who are digital-natives (such as millennials) coach older employees on the new-age skills.


Assimilating Coaching-Mentoring into the Leadership Development Strategy

To truly make coaching and mentoring an integral part of executive leadership training, L&D professionals must carefully curate the finer details, every step of the way.

Formalizing Coaching-mentoring as a Process: This starts with outlining the coaching-mentoring need to designing or sourcing the appropriate tool, to implementing the solution in a phased manner. A formalized coaching process with process-steps factored into the learning tool is the best way to make a real skill-building impact.

Building A Coaching Culture: Coaching must become institutionalized into the nuances of organizational learning, especially in executive development programs and processes. Only then can it bring about real and sustained skill-change. This is possible only when leaders themselves act as icons of futuristic learning and become coaches/mentors to support and guide employees. Streamlining the process-aspect is a bare-basic hygiene factor, but L&D must focus a lot more on the people aspect. L&D leaders need to drive a mindset change and for this, leaders must espouse values such as openness and transparency, collaboration, shared learning, and so on. Encouraging developmental dialogue amongst people is instrumental to coaching-mentoring success. Coaching-mentoring readiness requires a very different set of values and behaviors, which shall then entrench into a coaching culture.

Coaching as an Organizational Capability

 To instill the right values and behaviors and foster such a culture, organizations must treat coaching-mentoring as a capability in itself. This means that coaching-mentoring must be treated as a core managerial skill so that managers and coaches truly relate to the coaching culture and take proactive efforts to become effective coaches and mentors. For example, coaching and mentoring demand significant manager-time and attention, and in the business of day-to-day work, coaching-mentoring may take a slip. Hence, it is important to educate managers on the “why” i.e. show them the purpose. When managers and leaders coach or mentor with a clear purpose, they may be able to better see the collateral benefits of coaching-mentoring. A top-down inspiration also works well i.e. creating “coaching-mentoring models” in the top leadership, and constantly communicating how they connect with employees can make people realize that coaching-mentoring is a core organizational capability. Last but not the least, L&D needs to empower managers and leaders by making powerful digital tools available and accessible. Applying emerging technologies such as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to coaching-mentoring tools can provide managers with real-time performance data. This, in turn, may encourage them to stop monitoring and controlling employees, and following a more developmental and democratic people-management approach. To encourage actual adoption, HR must educate managers to use and navigate the modules on learning tools and platforms, ideally in a multi-device setup. A seamless user-experience is first and foremost in creating a ‘pull’ towards coaching-mentoring.

Above all, coaching-mentoring learning-actions must be well-integrated with other talent functions and systems such as performance management systems, learning systems, total rewards systems, HRMS, etc. so that it is treated as a core organizational capability.

Coaching and mentoring is not a one-time intervention, it is an ongoing commitment involving the time, effort, and investment of employees, managers, and leaders alike. To truly imbibe coaching-mentoring as a part of the leadership development strategy, L&D must gain the continued buy-in of the CXO suite. L&D needs to build a solid business case, such that the cause of leadership development is co-owned by business, L&D, HR and top leadership,  and not just by L&D folks.


Sources / References:


  1. LinkedIn-Leading-with-Learning-Insights-and-Advice-Report -

March 23, 2021 - No Comments!

How-to Guide: Implementing Coaching & Mentoring in the workplace post COVID-19

implementing coaching and mentoring post covid-19

The year 2020 opened new realities as businesses had to adapt to the COVID-induced new normal. As entire nations went into lockdown and businesses shut down, virtually became the go-to way of working. While essential services continued the field, a huge segment of the employee population was forced to work remotely, almost overnight. Business priorities changed and new competencies emerged because employees had to rise up to the occasion and perform in earlier unheard-of ways. Moreover, organizations had to engage with these people differently, to keep them motivated in an impersonal virtual environment. Employee engagement, learning & development, and performance management took on a new avatar, as HR and business leaders strove to engage their people in the disruptive environment.

The L&D and Coaching-mentoring Outlook during COVID-19

66% of global L&D professionals agree that their function has become a much more strategic part of their organization. CXOs have reported a 3X increase in training efforts during the lockdown and have seen virtual learnings breaking down legacy barriers.

L&D took on a strategic role. The development focus increased, as upskilling and reskilling became a CXO agenda. As learning went virtual, eLearning solutions became mainstream. Organizations hustled to convert physical formats such as Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to virtual formats such as Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) and Self-paced learning. This was done across organizational levels, and especially for executive development, as leadership became a critical competency to ride over the crises. As managers we're expected to lead and coach their team members, L&D needed to design the learning experience while upholding the humane elements of mental health, happiness, and holistic well-being. Softer skills such as emotional resilience, mindfulness, and relearning emerged as critical future-skills. This demanded a coaching-mentoring developmental focus. During the pandemic, L&D professionals took to exploring the right learning experience platform to establish virtual coaching and virtual mentoring. This need remains in post-pandemic times too.

Step-by-step guide for implementing Coaching and Mentoring post COVID-19

Institutionalizing a virtual coaching and mentoring process should be a well thought through exercise:

  • Conceptualization: L&D must move away from the cookie-cutter approach and create a personalized and relatable learning experience for both learner and coach/mentor. The construct of coaching must be aligned with the business needs of the organization. Hence, L&D must work closely with the business and the C-suite at the concept stage to create business-relevant and engaging content.
  • Design: Coaching and mentoring modules must be ingrained in the virtual training platforms, by putting in place a proper process. L&D may choose to invest in existing coaching tools and mentoring tools, for which they should do a thorough assessment of digital learning solutions available in the market, to suit one’s talent outcomes. Many eLearning companies have coaching-mentoring modules as a part of their eLearning solutions, it is up to L&D leaders to don the business hat and identify what works for the business and what does not.
  • Initiation: Any learning intervention requires an extensive change management process for people to adopt and embrace it. Before directly implementing the coaching solution or mentoring solution, L&D must orient stakeholders to the new process through extensive education.
  • Implementation: An initial pilot test in any team or function can help gauge the readiness for pan-organization implementation. Technical implementation should be such that the tool provides a glitch-free and seamless user-experience because a great employee experience is essential to ensure the adoption of coaching-mentoring as a way of life. Above, all managers and leaders must take ownership and responsibility to coach their people, so HR must drive a formal process for coaching-mentoring.
  • Assessment: It is important to track learning progress through qualitative inputs and metrics. According to the Kirkpatrick model, L&D must try to achieve Level 3 (Behaviour) and Level 4 (Results) outcomes, but in the nascent stages, it is also important to track operational metrics such as completion rates. Seeking qualitative feedback also goes a long way in gaining useful behavioral insights and enabling continuous improvement in the process.


The Right Blend of High-Tech and High-Touch

The virtualization of coaching and mentoring is the way ahead. The efficiency and convenience of technological tools need to be balanced with the softer human-element. L&D needs to complement the tool-experience with timely and quality human interventions. L&D must build coaching as a core capability, by seeking the dedicated involvement of managers and leaders. Striking the right balance between high-tech and high-touch will help curate the best learning experience, and thereby encourage people to adopt a coaching ‘mindset’.

Fostering a Coaching Mindset

L&D and leaders’ roles do not end with implementing coaching and mentoring processes and tools. In fact, this is just the beginning. Coaching and mentoring success requires a ‘growth’ and ‘developmental’ mindset across employees, and this, in turn, demands an extensive change management exercise. For coaching to be entrenched as a core organizational capability, L&D must create a ‘pull’ by providing the best employee experience. Constant communication i.e. highlighting success stories, and portraying leaders as successful coaches and mentors, will make employees ‘aspire’ for the coaching or mentoring experience. Leaders may talk about their leadership journeys i.e. how coaching and mentoring helped them pave their careers the way they wanted while aligning with the business needs. Such communication must be backed up with the right educational resources to encourage people to adopt coaching and mentoring.

The impact of coaching and mentoring is not limited to mere leadership development training but extends to broader agendas such as employee engagement and wellbeing. Due to the decentralization of leadership, coaching-mentoring finds value across hierarchies and is a powerful tool for organization-wide people-transformation. Hence, L&D must constantly seek business buy-in to make it an integral part of the leadership development strategy.

Source and Reference

  1. LinkedIn-Leading-with-Learning-Insights-and-Advice-Report

January 19, 2021 - No Comments!

The Power Of A Compelling Vision For Your Team

Author Aditi A Kashyap

"If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."

-, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer

compelling vision for the team

As a leader, you need to actively keep your and your teams' efforts aligned to the broad organizational vision. If you don't, your team will consist of rudderless employees who don't understand where the company is going or what they are trying to achieve. They will struggle to engage in their work, collaborate effectively across teams, and make informed decisions quickly.

When a leader has a clear foresight as to where he wants to steer his ship, the people who work for the leader are in a far more comfortable place to understand that their efforts are fruitful, and it gives them the confidence that they are heading in the right direction. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, 72% of the respondents expected their leader to be forward-looking and a visionary.

A leader with a clear vision can engage both the imagination and his people's energies. As Peter Drucker notes, "An effective leader knows that the ultimate task of leadership is to create human energies and human vision." Tying the vision to what the organization and its people value most helps garner everyone’s commitment to realizing it.

Here's why a leader needs to create a compelling vision statement and follow through with it.

  1. Gives the team direction
  2. Motivates the team members
  3. Allows better planning and execution
  4. Helps track progress


  1. Gives the team direction – The team always looks up to their leader for direction and guidance. You need to continually reiterate the vision and align individual goals to ensure that all energies are unified in the same direction. Every strategy you devise and every task you undertake has a purpose. Aligning each activity's very purpose to the larger organizational vision makes it meaningful and helps realize it.
  2. Motivates the team members – Well-aligned and clear goals motivate team members to deliver better, especially when they help identify and map their individual efforts for a larger cause. Being able to see what they contribute to gives them a sense of fulfillment and pride. Creating a supportive environment by providing resources such as materials, assistance, and information can further motivate team members.
  3. Allows better planning and execution - The leader should come up with a development plan to achieve the set objectives. Before devising a plan of action on achieving the goals, leaders must evaluate each team member's skill and motivation levels. Assigning the right team members to the appropriate assignment should be a project goal for team leaders.
  4. Helps track progress - To assure the success of a project, team leaders should monitor each team member's progress and the project's overall progress. Evaluating the group's success at various stages in the project ensures the team stays on track and reaches a conclusion on time and within a budget. The goal of team leaders is to ensure the project is moving forward towards completion.

Keep in mind the following points when developing a vision statement for your team:

Make the vision statement clear and easy to understand

The vision statement should be concise and no longer than a sentence or two. It should be specific and must align with the company's long-term vision.

Bridge the present and the future

Your vision statement should provide a picture of the future. It helps describes your organization's direction or goal and the means of accomplishing it. It guides the work of the organization. The vision should be compelling enough to inspire, motivate, and engage people.

Make it ambitious

An ambitious vision statement that is not limited by current circumstances or by what is perceived as possible indicates that your organization aims high and demands high-performance standards from the team members. Use powerful words and vivid phrases to articulate the kind of team you are trying to become.

Clarify direction and purpose

Clarify the team's current state and the envisioned future state. Create systems that will enable your team to track their goals and progress. This creates a culture of accountability around the vision that has been set.

Set a standard of excellence

Reward behaviors and performance of those who are consistently meeting targets. Besides, as a leader, you need to lead by example. Emulate those behaviors that are required to drive optimal performance in the team.


One of your main tasks as a leader is to motivate your team members to collaborate and get things done that help achieve the overall organizational objectives. It would be best if you spent sufficient time creating a compelling vision for your team that aligns with the organization's vision to ensure that the team focuses on common goals and works together to accomplish them.


KNOLSKAPE is one of the fastest-growing experiential learning tech companies in the world. KNOLSKAPE accelerates employee growth and Development using an award-winning portfolio of simulations and  in-depth talent analytics. KNOLSKAPE is a 110+ strong team with offices in  Singapore, India, Malaysia, and USA serving a rapidly growing global  client base across industries such as banking and finance,  consulting, IT, FMCG, retail, manufacturing, infrastructure,  pharmaceuticals, engineering, auto, government and academia.  KNOLSKAPE is a global Top 20 gamification company, recipient of  Brandon Hall awards, and has been recognized as a company to watch  for in the Talent Management Space, by Frost & Sullivan, and as a disruptor in  the learning space, by Bersin by Deloitte.

December 16, 2020 - No Comments!

A Closer Look at Managerial Coaching

Author Aditi A Kashyap

“I got a call from Janet this morning. She was feeling overwhelmed. With a six-year-old boy to take care of who constantly needs her attention, Janet was telling me how she was finding it increasingly difficult to manage childcare and work duties. She told me she needed assistance in prioritizing everything better. I understood her issue in an empathetic manner, and I suggested that I would coach her in the days to follow”. 
a closer look at managerial coaching

Are you a manager wondering how you can help your team member virtually to achieve optimal performance? As a result of the pandemic, are your team members facing new work issues that require you to coach? Is it difficult for you to understand how you can manage your team members' virtual behaviors that are befitting their role? We are all remotely working from home. With no face-to-face contact with our managers, they have no visibility of our on-the-job behaviors. We are all distributed, which is making coaching more essential than ever. Employees are the company's most valuable assets, and managers should invest enough time and resources in helping their team succeed in this crisis.

Restoking career and professional development conversations are critical as the COVID-19 crisis continues. As a manager, you need to be armed with the right skills to be a good coach virtually. Using a structured methodology to support developmental conversations can make a massive difference in how productive your employees become.

When dealing with a crisis like this, managers have to help their team members reflect on their current situation, decide on what they want to achieve, lay milestones for achievement and commit to the way ahead. Coaching can help you peer through the fog of uncertainty. As team members are grappling with making life and work fit together, a manager comes in to create and sustain healthy relationships based on trust and a shared understanding of the context. Managers should play the role of trusted confidants who have the best interests of the individual and the organization at all times.

Understanding the GROW Model of Coaching

GROW stands for – Goal- Reality- Options and Way Forward in the GROW model of coaching. When dealing with times of stress like this pandemic, the model provides employees and managers with a transparent system to follow to set and achieve their goals and is particularly useful in reducing the amount of catastrophizing the situation currently being experienced. Clarity about where to go and how to get there will empower your people to navigate difficult circumstances.

Given the magnitude of the change circumstance, what is the context you have to bear in mind while coaching using the GROW model?

Goal: understand that a changed circumstance leads to a changed goal. As a manager, consider your own goals and ask your team member to reflect on what they want to achieve. The goal should ideally be attainable yet motivating.

Reality: The current reality is that we are grappling with the pandemic, and we have made a lot of changes in our personal and professional lives. Understand from your team member what their current reality looks and feels like and how they are operating in the same

Options: Given the times we are operating in, you need to ask difficult questions such as as-, "If you are not able to reach this goal, what might you do"?

Way forward: Ask questions such as-, "What are some steps you would take to move towards your chosen path in a positive direction?".

As managers, you need to connect with your team members regularly on a much deeper level more than ever, which calls for asking open-ended questions to help your team member develop their solutions. You should play an active role in mitigating your team member's fears by demonstrating empathy and providing a safe space for them to discuss their thoughts and feelings openly.

Coach & Manage Performance with KNOLSKAPE'S Coaching Simulation

The Coaching Sim helps managers learn the essentials of coaching and apply it in a safe, real-life like environment. Coaching is a complex skill, as a coach should not only motivate the team but also master the nuances of dealing with the inner emotions of a team member. The Coaching Sim has all these complexities built into itself, thereby making the learner exercise his faculty fully to have a successful coaching conversation.



KNOLSKAPE is one of the fastest-growing experiential learning tech companies in the world. KNOLSKAPE accelerates employee growth and Development using an award-winning portfolio of simulations and  in-depth talent analytics. KNOLSKAPE is a 110+ strong team with offices in  Singapore, India, Malaysia, and USA serving a rapidly growing global  client base across industries such as banking and finance,  consulting, IT, FMCG, retail, manufacturing, infrastructure,  pharmaceuticals, engineering, auto, government and academia.  KNOLSKAPE is a global Top 20 gamification company, recipient of  Brandon Hall awards, and has been recognized as a company to watch  for in the Talent Management Space, by Frost & Sullivan, and as a disruptor in  the learning space, by Bersin by Deloitte.

aditi kashyap roubd logoAbout the Author

Aditi A Kashyap is a Senior Associate, Marketing at KNOLSKAPE. Her interest to write about learning and development trends comes fuelled by her professional background as a learning consultant having a keen interest to understand a learner’s psyche.

January 27, 2020 - Comments Off on Coaching Series Part 2: The art of peer coaching for greater returns

Coaching Series Part 2: The art of peer coaching for greater returns

the art of peer coaching for greater returns


In part 1 of this series, I shared some of the insights I derived from aspiring coaches regarding their fears and apprehensions with the coaching experience and process. My experience brought to light that even with all the tips, tools and techniques that a coach can aspire to possess, a major barrier to the coaching process and experience is the confidence and reservations of the coaches themselves.

In this blog, I want to talk about another dimension to coaching. Thus far, we have seen coaching as an important tool that managers can use to improve the performance of their team. However, the onus of coaching need not lie with the team manager alone. What’s more? It SHOULD NOT lie with the managers alone, either. We must remember that coaching (in the professional context) entails helping an individual on a personal level as well as helping them perform as team members.

Who better to understand the team’s dynamics than members of the team who work together on a regular basis? The opportunity to coach peers is one that comes along every day, however, most of us rarely take up this responsibility. Perhaps it is the lack of authority or recognition, or the inability to identify and accept such an opportunity that keeps us from coaching others. However, coaching is synonymous with helping, a crucial due diligence to be performed by every member of the team.

If one were to look at the traits it takes to be a good coach, it is evident that these traits are not alluded simply to managers and leaders. They are basic human characteristics that do not understand an individual’s professional standing. Therefore, it begs the question – if you possess these traits, why are you not using them? Consequently, if you lack in certain traits, why are you not doing anything to develop them?

Let’s take a step back. A preliminary concept already exists – peer coaching. The concept of ‘peer coaching’ has been popular for decades, and with good reason. Research shows that peer coaching can help drive performance, boost employee engagement and develop future leaders. A study conducted by Quantum Workplace found that employees who experience peer coaching are eight percent more engaged than employees who don’t.

However, my problem with this concept is that is it strictly limited to developing knowledge and technical capabilities, i.e., there seems to be a stigma or fear in helping peers develop beyond what is necessary for a job for fear that it may jeopardize one’s own chances of growth. After all, the corporate world is often equated to a jungle, the motto of which remains ‘survival of the fittest’.

It isn’t that simple, though. As John Donne once said, ‘No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…’ In saying this, Donne wanted to convey a simple message – we need to work together to make things happen, and this isn’t always as simple as identifying the weakest member of the team to help them get stronger.

Often, the challenge need not be with capability at all. It could have to do with confidence and motivation, which is another reason that peer coaching is likely to be more effective than having someone else, a manager included, be our coach. It is human nature to feel more comfortable with someone who we can relate to. Often, this is the person we consider our equal.

Being a team player also means taking an interest and actively helping team members bring out the best in themselves. If that means that we must invest some time and effort into coaching our peers, then so be it. And this is rarely without reward. Peer coaching shows leadership, accountability, influencing abilities and ownership. Even if leadership doesn’t recognize this now, peer coaching helps in building character and capabilities. Sooner or later, it is going to give us big returns.

So, what does it take to be a peer coach?

Offer to help.

As peer who work together on a regular basis, we are likely to have better insight into the personal attributes, areas of struggle, and conditions that our team members are dealing with. We often see team members struggling with something – could be a mental block, or challenges with prioritization, difficult clients, or even personal barriers that prevent them from performing efficiently on the job.

Often, we recognize these challenges because we have been in similar situations ourselves, and our ability to be empathetic is high. Therefore, we are better poised to relate to our team members and offer them an environment that supports positivity. All it requires is a simple, genuine gesture of offering to help.

Pitfall - In an overzealous move to help and support, we can come across as forceful. Help can go a long way, but only so long as the other person is willing to accept it. Recognizing the problem as a third person and understanding that there is a problem as the person at the centre of it are two different things. Just because I have realized that you have a problem doesn’t mean that you have realized it or are willing to accept it yourself. Nobody appreciates a holier-than-thou or a know-it-all attitude. So, if someone doesn’t want your help, take a step back, but make sure you keep a close eye on them. They will either solve their problem or ask for help at some point in the future, where you can appropriately step in.

Enrich Trust.

Trust is the most important part of any coaching relationship. To be able to help an individual, they must trust you. Therefore, before attempting to coach someone, you must identify the degree of closeness and comfort that the person feels towards you, and how much they trust you. This is important as trust is the foundation of every strong relationship.

This may not be an easy task, but it isn’t impossible either. Author David Maister, in his book, ‘The Trusted Advisor’ illustrated an equation that could potentially help us assess our trustworthiness, as perceived by another person, to help build strong relationships.


  • Credibility is established in the words we speak. Are we being honest and transparent? Do we have something to say that the other person can learn from and/or relate to?
  • Reliability is established in our actions. Are we able to walk the talk? Are we coming across as genuine and consistent?
  • Intimacy is established in the level of safety and security that a potential coachee feels when engaging with us. Are we able to make the other person feel comfortable with us? Does the other person feel like they can open up to us?

To be considered highly trustworthy, it is important that our levels of credibility, reliability and intimacy with the other person are high.

Finally, self-orientation refers to where our focus lies. Are we more focused on our own wants, desires and expectations? Do we let ourselves get distracted when building meaningful relationships with others? Are we able to display genuine interest in the team member we are coaching? To be considered highly trustworthy, it is important that our self-orientation is low.

Pitfall – Don’t assume that just because you work together and may talk to each other while at work that the person you are attempting to help trusts you with their problems. While you may share office gossip with each other, eat lunch together and know of each other’s weekend plans, that doesn’t mean that your potential coachee will trust you with their problems. Remember, it is engrained in many of us to not display our weaknesses or struggles at work for fear that it may impact our career growth.

It is also important to remember that the coaching conversation is not about the coach, rather the person being coached.

 Become accountable.

When deciding to coach anybody, we go on their journey with them. This is especially true when coaching peers, as their mental state and performance can directly impact our goals at work. Any win for our coachee is a win for us and the larger team, business unit and organization we both belong to. Therefore, ensuring that we take accountability for any struggles and fallouts that our team members endue is crucial.

Pitfall – When we take accountability for someone, it is human tendency to want control. In a coaching relationship, however, we do not get control as coaches. Our role is to give guidance and act as safety nets or cheerleaders, ready on the sidelines for every failure as well as success. It is important to constantly keep ourselves in check, because our instinct to take over and control the situation can take over. Don’t let it. Practice self-awareness and, more importantly, self-control.

Ask. Don’t answer.

The logical/rational parts of our brain always know the solution to any challenge we may face. Unfortunately, in the midst of unpleasant, tough and emotional experiences, emotions take over. For as long as we allow emotions to control us, we are not going to be able to solve any problem. This is true for all human beings. As coaches, it is our responsibility to talk down the heightened emotions our team members are facing.

The best way to do this is to facilitate their realization of the emotions they are feeling, allowing them to clear their head off the emotional fog that has overtaken them. Once they are thinking more clearly, it is far easier to talk them through the situation logically and help them arrive at a solution. Remember – the key word here is HELP. Our team members need to put in the effort to overcome the challenges they face.

This can be a difficult task for both the coach as well as team members. But look at it this way – when are you more likely to accept or believe something? Is it when someone tells you about it or when you come to the realization yourself?

Pitfall – It is human nature to want to provide answers. We establish a powerful coaching relationship with someone partially because we come across as credible. Our team members may see us as a source of all the answers, and often, they may also want us to just give them all the answers or solve their problems entirely. This is not fruitful. There is no learning, as a result, no evolution. Coaches are not problem solvers. We are support systems that provide guidance and support. So, as painful as it may be to bite our tongues and watch someone close suffer, giving them the answers to their problems is far more detrimental.  

Coaching, by no means is easy, but it is necessary, as illustrated in Part 1 of this series. Off all the people that can potentially coach someone, peers tend to have the most success. As peers, we are more aware of our team members’ personalities, needs, desires, motivations and the challenges they face. Therefore, establishing a trust-based relationship which facilitates the coaching experience is far easier as well. Keeping in mind the aforementioned elements guarantees a successful coaching relationship, a more cohesive team, higher morale, and, ultimately, greater performance. The most important thing to remember through it all is to keep judgement out of it. Just because we are coaching someone doesn’t make us better than them. It simply puts us in a position to help someone, who might return the favor in the future. After all, belief in someone can go a long way, with many unexpected rewards.

In part 3 of this series, we will look at the impact that belief can have in the coaching process, coaching experience, and most importantly coachee confidence and performance.


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  • January 10, 2020 - Comments Off on Coaching is important, but it isn’t easy. Here’s everything you need to know for becoming an effective coach

    Coaching is important, but it isn’t easy. Here’s everything you need to know for becoming an effective coach

    Coaching audience


    Happy new year, everyone!

    The start of a new year spells new beginnings – we make resolutions and take vows on how we expect to perform in the new year. It is a time of hope, high spirit and an opportunity to reflect on what has transpired in the previous year. Many organizations have now entered the final quarter of their financial year, many are just starting a new financial year and many others are somewhere in between. Nevertheless, now is a good time for teams and leaders to engage in coaching conversations, performance reviews and discussions on the way forward.

    Coaching, today, has become a popular investment in organizations. Senior leadership places it high on their agenda, to facilitate 10x growth for the organization. And why not! After all, there is substantial research to support the benefit of effective coaching conversations to organizations:

    • According to Bersin by Deloitte, organizations where senior leaders coach effectively and frequently record a 21% improvement in business results,
    • A Gallup study on coaching says that coaching average performers can improve overall productivity by 19%, and
    • The International Coach Federation found that 86% of organizations that invested in coaching report having recovered their investment in coaching

    There is no debate that coaching is beneficial and necessary. Which is why a large chunk of organizations, both big and small are investing time, money and effort into:

    1. developing leaders at all levels through coaching, and
    2. coaching leaders to become coaches themselves.

    While organizations are finding ways and means to quantify and formalize the coaching process and impact measures, there is a massive ground reality that often doesn’t get considered or highlighted. If not for the opportunity to facilitate the development of managers as coaches, this reality would have much likely evaded me for longer as well.

    What exactly am I talking about?

    In October 2019, I spent several weeks with first time and middle-level managers of a large telecommunications company. The agenda of this engagement was to help these individuals with a manager tag not just lead their teams, but also coach them to realize their potential and deliver greater performance. This program was aptly titled ‘Manager as a Coach’. Their organization felt that the best people to coach employees are their managers, the people who:

    • lead and work with these employees on a regular basis,
    • observe and understand the team members, and
    • extract the most value out of the employees

    The learning program aimed to help managers understand the coaching process, how to effectively take part in it, and help them separate their roles as managers from that of coaches.

    During the program, we encountered many of the concerns and assumptions that we had anticipated and prepared for:

    • Managers believe that they already engage in coaching conversations with their team members and do so effectively,
    • Managers believe that they are thoroughly aware of their team members strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and fears,
    • Managers think that coaching their team members means solving their team members’ problems,
    • Managers believe that only the low or none performing team members need to be coached, i.e., coaching is primarily for correcting behavior

    The program that we facilitated for these managers effectively addressed and corrected these assumptions, but that is not why I write this post today.

    During this program, I was able to engage with the participants and understand their individual challenges and fears. As L&D professionals, instructional designers, HR teams or even managers, this kind of information is rarely brought to our attention.

    What’s this elusive information, you may ask?

    While coaching is placed high on the leadership agenda, the consensus among the participants in the workshop was that the coaching mindset and behavior are not cascaded down.

    Often, individuals being groomed to become impactful coaches for their team members do not have managers who coach them for greater performance, sparking off other challenges and fears:

    • How do you motivate your team when you don’t receive positive reinforcement from your manager, or your own morale is down?
    • How do you develop your teams’ skills when your leaders are mostly concerned with KRAs, targets and getting the job done no matter what?
    • How do you expend energy on developing and improving team performance when the leaders’ answer is to replace a team member in favor of someone “better” or “more competent”?

    Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this. What is true of high performance is that it a harmonious union of high skill and high morale. Every individual who has the necessary skillsets to accomplish something and the motivation to do it will do well. What is common for coaches and leaders is that both must work towards improving and maintaining employee skill and morale to ensure high performance. It is merely their approach that differs.

    The other truth that coaches and leaders share is that no one is a born leader or a born coach. These are capabilities that we much work towards exhibiting correctly and improving. While there are certain coaching traits we all possess in varying degrees, they aren’t always exhibited, either because:

    1. We don’t want to – this is called preference,
    2. We don’t even know we can – this is called a blind spot, or
    3. We don’t know how to – this is called a learning curve

    Having a great manager who is also a great coach helps us become better coaches ourselves. For those of us who feel that our managers aren’t even good coaches, we can still take away from them everything we should not be doing to become great coaches.

    The challenge that people leaders face is that while they manage the expectations of the people reporting to them, they must also manage the expectations of the people they report to. While we manage emotions, expectations, motivations, skills, and careers, which are in our control, there also exist an unforeseeable number of external variables that we have absolutely no control over. These variables make it exponentially more difficult for managers to do their jobs well. Add to that the fact that you may not feel very motivated yourself at the moment, but that personal feeling cannot be taken out on others.

    Being a manager who is also a coach is not easy. It can rank among the most difficult jobs that a person will ever do, considering that there are so many variables involved, most that are outside our control. A manager who plays the role of a coach has limited control. Why is this important to highlight? Because, in such a case, it is important that we take complete reins over that which we do control – our own responses.

    Imagine this – You have set up a coaching conversation with a team member for today evening. Earlier in the day, you were part of a presentation that went horribly wrong. From there, everything went downhill, leaving you agitated.


    This is only one of several scenarios that we face as managers daily. You recognize these scenarios by how they make you feel – tired, agitated, frustrated and/or demotivated. As coaches, however, how we manage our response to these scenarios can make or break our credibility as coaches and the trust that our team members have in us as their coach. Thinking about the possible responses to this situation, one would:

    1. Cancel the coaching conversation or push it to another time,
    2. Show up to the coaching conversation and, consciously or unconsciously, take out their agitation on the team member being coached, or
    3. The ideal situation – put aside one’s own personal feelings in favor of the coaching conversation.

    Now, what is likely to be the outcome of each response?

    1. Cancel or reschedule:

    A coaching conversation has been scheduled to meet a specific goal or address a specific agenda, most often a performance issue. This is a time-sensitive activity and must be addressed at the earliest to ensure that performance is not compromised with.

    At the same time, a coaching conversation often deals with fears and anxieties from the team member being coached, either because of a lack of clarity around why they need to have a coaching conversation or because they have some deep-rooted fears that they want to address so that they may perform better.

    Canceling or rescheduling such a crucial activity is unfair to the team member as well as the organization, both of whom are looking for a resolution to the problem at hand.

      2. Displace emotions:

     A coaching conversation can be a very delicate situation to manage, as emotion can run amok. As coaches, we need to be patient and remove our own emotions and opinions from the process. In other words, the team member being coached must be at the centre of the coaching conversation.

     Of course, coaches are people, with emotions. It isn’t fair on coaches to have their emotions disregarded. Having said that, there is a time and place for each person to express and let out emotions. A coaching conversation is neither the time nor the place for a coach to do so. Any feelings and opinions a coach has that are detrimental to the coaching conversation must be left at the metaphoric door. The team members being coached don’t deserve their coach’s displaced negative emotions.

     3. Actively engage:

    This is the ideal state for an effective coaching conversation, one where a coach can keep his/her feelings and thoughts aside, keep an open mind, listen patiently and actively, and respond appropriately to the situation at hand.

    Many times, this is easy to do. When you’re having a good day or your energy is up, it is easier to spread warmth and joy. The loophole here is if a coach is able to do this all the time. Irrespective of your state of mind, body, and being, can you ensure that you give the team members you coach the same experience every time?

    A coach’s relationship with the people s/he coaches is sacred. We trust our coaches and expect certain things from them. This is what brings us comfort and confidence to be open and honest in the coaching conversation, enabling it’s effectiveness.

    The element of surprise has little space in coaching experience. Surprise, while exciting, can also be extremely nerve-wracking. The comfort an individual gets in routine is important to alleviate the anxiety around surprise and focus on the more pressing issues.

    Consistently behaving in a positive manner, one that benefits the person you are coaching, and the coaching experience is the ideal situation to be in, and one to aspire for.

    At the end of the day, it is important to remember that coaching is about relationships, rapport and trust. Team members being coached deserve consistency and continuity from their coach – YOU. Therefore, as coaches, we cannot allow our own feelings, thoughts and opinions to interfere or cloud our interaction and the goal in front of us – coaching our team members towards performance.

    ‘So, what do we do?’ you must be wondering, and I don’t blame you! There are so many complexities and so much ambiguity in the process. So, let’s quickly recap:

    • Coaching is crucial and high on the leadership agenda
    • Coaches aren’t born, and there are multiple traits that make for a great coach
    • A manager who is also a coach must balance the expectations of the team as well as his/her own manager/s
    • Team members who need/want to be coached come first, not the whims and priorities of the coach
    • Coaches need to manage their own anxieties and motivation issues while managing their team members’ performance and obstacles

    Most importantly, coaches must be consistent.

    Maintaining Consistency

    We’ve already established that like, leaders, coaches aren’t born. There is also no single kind of coach that is the best. Different people need a different kinds of coaches. Therefore, coaching behavior also requires us to flex our styles to suit the needs of the person we coach.

    The International Coach Federation (ICF) recognizes 11 core competencies of great coaches:

    Coaching blog -1


    There are certain traits that support these behaviors/competencies. Harrison Assessments’ SmartQuestionnaire, which dives deep into behavioral preferences of people and provides insights into strengths and stress responses, measures 175 traits. Their behavioral competency analysis for coaching outlines seven essential, fifteen desirable and six avoidable traits for coaches to exhibit.

    How is any of this information relevant or helpful?

    No two coaches are alike, and coaches need to maintain consistency in their coaching behavior. Understanding the traits that make for a good coach – one’s strength, weakness and preference of behavior – helps us create our coaching personality. In other words, what do you think you need to do to be a good coach?

    Identifying the traits you think will make you a great coach is the first step to actually becoming a good coach. Let’s break down this process:

    coaching blog -2

    Applying this model looks something like this:

    Andrea’s coaching competencies and trait preference assessments gave her the following results:

    Steps One and Two of the process are now complete. To establish and sustain coaching persona, Andrea must now decide whether these are the traits and capabilities she wants to display during a coaching conversation with a team member. Let’s assume that she has decided that her assessment results are what she wants to define her as a coach.

    Now let’s move on the step three – Activities Checklist.

    Below is a sample of what your coaching checklist could look like. Bear in mind that this is a self-reflection of your performance in the coaching conversation, not an evaluation of your ability as a coach.


    While the coaching conversation is about the team member being coached, the coach places a very important role in the process. Therefore, it is imperative for the coach to create such a checklist to gauge their own performance in the coaching conversation. This is an important activity, because, remember, you are coaching people who report to you.

    Whether you like it or not, no matter how good a relationship you think you have with your team members, there is always an invisible line between friend and manager. For fear of how their words may reflect on their promotions and career growth, your team members aren’t always going to be entirely honest with you.

    Therefore, as a coach, you will have to spend some time reflecting on your own performance as a coach and think about what you can do better to add more value to the conversation. But remember, this checklist is an iterative process, so ensure that you constantly update it based on your own capabilities and the needs of the team member you coach.

    And, finally, we come to step four – Implementation

    This is the trickiest part of the coaching exercise. You can implement the steps and techniques but measuring the performance and improvements can be difficult. To accurately understand how the coaching conversation is going and how you are faring as a coach, you need objective measures and feedback. Since you establish SMART goals as part of the coaching process, the coachee's progress is far easier to measure. But how do you measure your performance as a coach in an objective and realistic manner?

    One way to do it is by asking the coachee for feedback. That, unfortunately, is not entirely accurate as it is riddled with biases and the coachee's frame of mind. Self-reflection activities also may face a similar fate. This is not to say that these ways of measurement should be completely written off. Of course not! They are just better suited for more seasoned coaches.

    New or inexperienced coaches require a little bit more handholding. Think of it as coaching for coaches - a means to practice coaching ability in a safe environment without severe real-world implications, with real-time, objective feedback on performance. You could have a real-life coach do this for you, or you could turn to digital technologies to enable this at an accelerated manner.

    At KNOLSKAPE, we believe in immersive business simulations to help leaders accelerate capabilities. Among our repository of world-class simulations is the Coaching Simulation, designed to help leaders learn and implement the essentials of coaching, motivate their teams and master the nuances of dealing with emotions of team members.

    Watch coaching simulation video

    Simulations have proven to be a surefire way for demonstrable mindset change and improved business performance. This is true for all KNOLSKAPE simulations, coaching simulation included.

    If you’re interested to explore Coaching or any of KNOLSKAPE’s other simulations, click here.

    coaching sim

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  • November 28, 2018 - No Comments!

    What it takes to be a good coach

    Authors: Swati Kamath| Product Marketing ManagerMariam Taqui Ali | Senior Associate - KNOLSKAPE Insights Centre

    What it takes to be a good coach

    A man walks in the hospital room and approaches another on the bed, who is battling bone cancer. He inquires after him and then tells him that he wants him in the training camp - on the field. Some months later, that is exactly what panned out. The man who walked in the hospital was Don Shula (former professional American football coach and player, best known as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins), and the man on the bed was Mike Westoff, special teams’ coach for the Dolphins. Mike understood his Coach’s doing, “He treated me the way I could be, not the way I was, and that made all the difference in the speed of my recovery.”

    The anecdotal evidence above brings to light the impact of coaching and what a splendid coach can bring to the table. In this blog we have unveiled the seven traits that make a good coach.

    1. Empathy
      The ability to place one’s self in another’s shoes and seeing their point of view is the embodiment of a good coach. Without this, no coach can come very close to being effective. The presence of empathy in one’s character goes a long way. After all, it is a much desired ability in coaches, leaders, and all-round holistic individuals.
      For a coach, empathy is the basis of building a rapport and understanding the coachee’s situation, roadblocks and what is preventing him/her from growing and going forward. Empathy is the key to make a meaningful relationship.
    1. Patience
      ‘Patience is a virtue’ is a saying that we often hear. The practice of patience is, unfortunately, not as common. As a coach, being patient with the coachee and giving him/her time – to accept a situation, to form realizations, identify problems, and actively move towards a resolution is imperative. This is also the most challenging test of becoming a good coach.
    2. Being a good listener
      You may wonder – ‘how does listening help in coaching?’ In reality, this is the most important behaviour of a good coach. Being a coach is not about resolving an individual’s problems. A good coach understands that there are strong walls or obstacles preventing individuals from being the best versions of themselves. These obstacles are usually a result of mental or emotional circumstances. An empathic coach understands that the key to progress is in first dealing with the mental and emotional strains and barriers. Often, this means allowing a coachee to parrot the same concerns repeatedly. For a coach, the ability to listen patiently is key, because a good coach understands that individuals want to feel heard. Therefore, a good coach must be able to both understand and utilize appropriate verbal and non-verbal cues to help individuals manage and overcome their obstacles. Being a good listener is also incredibly important because many times, individuals aren’t able to communicate what they mean. Being a good listener allows coaches to read between the line, infer meaning, and assist their coachees appropriately.
    3. Consistency
      Mastering empathy, patience and being a good listener will only take a coach so far if consistency in behaviour is not maintained. A good coach needs to be consistent in his time, interest, behaviour, opinions, feedback, and suggestions, ensuring that their own worries, tensions, deadlines and obstacles do not interfere with the coaching process. Making an effort every day, day after day so that the coachee reaches his/her potential and achieve the goals that you both had set out at the beginning of the practice is the basis of coaching consistency.
    4. Active involvement
      Coaching requires the coach to have a hands-on, minds-on involvement with the coachee. This doesn’t mean that a coach needs to be with the coachee every second of every day. Active involvement implies being attuned to or updated with the coachee’s situation and progress. Only then can a coach become aware of the changing needs of the individuals they are helping. Active involvement could imply activities such as – daily phone calls or emails, participating in the coachee’s life at regular intervals, weekly conversations, record and discuss signs of progress and obstacles to progress, etc. are some of the ways in which coaches can be actively involved.
    5. Collaborative
      A good coach always remembers that the coaching process is a collaborative effort, with equal efforts put in by both sides to achieve the predetermined targets. A coach is not a trainer or assessor who dictates what, where, when, how and why individuals must do to achieve their goals. A good coach understands and makes the coachee aware of their strengths, areas of improvements, expectations, potential and motivation. In turn, coachees cannot be passive parties to the coaching process. Coachees are expected to act on the mutually agreed-upon activities, flag of challenges and report progress. Collectively, both parties then decide the next course of action till the goal is met.
    6. Facilitative
      Coaches are also facilitators, the very definition of the role being that of a helper. Understanding their role of facilitators, good coaches always ensure that their coachees are at the centre of the coaching process, and they are merely the catalysts to change. While all the traits require coaches to be active and participative, this particular trait highlights the need for coaches to also be able to take a step back and watch their coachees achieve their goals, while pitching in when needed.

    Coaching is an important skill today, with individuals increasingly seeking coaches, in various capacities, to help guide them to be the best versions of themselves. It is important to remember not to get discouraged by the term “trait”. While a trait is an innate characteristic of an individual, usually a result of their genetic predisposition, the wonder of the above-mentioned traits is that with conscious practice and care, any individual can embody these traits.


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  • April 3, 2018 - No Comments!

    Why expressing belief in someone is the secret ingredient to coaching

    one to one coachingKNOLSKAPE offers simulation-based behavioral learning solutions to help organizations accelerate learners’ mastery of leadership and digital competencies, preparing them for the Digital Age coaching has been steadily gaining traction in organizations across the globe. The art of coaching, when applied correctly, can bear phenomenal results, akin to turning a piece of coal into priceless diamonds. It’s no wonder that surveys conducted across Fortune 500 companies reveal that organizations that invest in coaching earn an average of $7.90 more for every dollar invested in coaching. Honing an individual’s potential by placing belief in them fosters their willingness to put their best foot forward. This allows employee growth, enhances their ability to achieve goals, and add value to the larger business vision.

    Focusing on coaching their teams allows managers to ensure that their teams reach their full potential and grow within the organization.  Coaching, however, is serious business. It takes a special skill set that managers need to imbibe to become great coaches. It is important to remember that the act of coaching places the needs of the coachee at the center of the coaching process, and a coach facilitates the process of growth.

    A classic example of coaching done right was the pair of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan - the former a reluctant coachee at the start, and the latter an adamant coach. Under Sullivan’s coaching, Keller learned to speak, read, write and even sing. Sullivan’s patience, persistence, unconventional approach to teaching, her high expectations, and her belief in Keller resulted in Keller’s immeasurable success.  This is a success story not because of the steps that Sullivan followed to coach Keller; rather, it was a result of Sullivan’s focus on Keller’s needs, building a rapport, gaining her trust, and creating an environment to foster Keller’s willingness to be coached and grow.

    “I believe in you. I’m investing in you, and I expect your best efforts.”
    This is no different from the role that managers need to play to tap the potential of their individual team members. Great coaches enable growth, foster willingness, build trust, and invest themselves to ensure that their teams believe in them. The hook is a simple message - “I believe in you. I’m investing in you, and I expect your best efforts.”

    One may wonder how a simple statement like that could produce phenomenal results. Being given the power of authority over a team automatically gives managers the leverage to establish

    • Trust,
    • Faith,
    • and Belief in their teams
    1. Trust: Building trust necessitates the manager to be upfront and honest in all his dealings with his coachees or team members. This fosters individuals to constantly look up to their managers for guidance and support, and not just in the tasks that need to be performed as part of their roles.
    2. Faith: Investing faith attributes to the tone and expectations that managers set at the beginning pave the path for the relationship that they share with their teams going forward. Thus, a great start to the relationship is half the battle won in coaching – there is the courage of conviction in the promises that the coach and employee make to each other.
    3. Belief in their teams: The most important element of all in a great coaching relationship is a firm foundation of belief – in the team’s capabilities.

    However, being a great coach comes with a lot of practice. Lack of strong coaching abilities does more than just demoralize an individual, it also significantly impacts team dynamics, performance, morale, and productivity, all of which pose a serious threat to the organization and business. Therefore, coaching skills are greatly in need of being learned as quickly and as soon as possible.

    Learning to coach through simulations takes the concept of learning by going to a whole new level, allowing aspiring coaches to make mistakes and learn from them. The added element of a safe learning environment helps accelerate the learning process, without deeply impacting business. Add to that robust analytics on performance, coaching strength and areas of improvement, and the art of coaching becomes an enjoyable skill to master. Bearing this in mind, KNOLSKAPE designed ‘Coaching Sim’, a real-life like simulation allowing aspiring coaches to boost their coaching performance, and add real value to their teams, and business.

    After all, a coach’s belief in his/her coachee’s potential, and the latter’s sense of security from having someone to always turn to are the driving factors behind a successful coaching relationship. There are a perfect mix of learning, communication and agility at play, where both parties benefit from both personal (increased self-awareness, empathy, humility) and professional (builds credibility) fronts. The shared moments of sheer exuberance or grief, firmly cement the bond which goes beyond the material outcomes of the job/profession and moves the coach and coachee to a different plane of interpreting success, where delivery excellence then becomes innate. It is like the way Master Oogway says - “Anything is possible when you believe.”