I write this from Manila, Philippines, where I am training 50 wonderful executives and managers in the discipline of executive coaching — and we are having a second typhoon in a single week.
Many subscribers email from all over the world asking: Does executive program apply and work in their culture, or not? Today is a good time to answer this question….
Having trained individuals from about 20 countries — including the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, France, Belgium, Russia/Eastern Europe, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Dubai, Qatar, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and more — I can unequivocally say, "Yes!"
Before coming to the seminar in the Philippines, many participants worried that executive coaching would not apply in this unique and diverse country.
There are certainly cultural differences here as in every nation and with every ethnicity, but there is now no doubt in the participants' minds now that coaching can work here.
The members of government who are in the seminar now see how executive coaching can improve performance among managers in very different regions of this diverse country. In fact, we worked together during a wonderful extra session to develop a plan to roll out coaching to different managers based on their performance levels, trajectory, and the issues they face leading their regions.
Managers in family-owned businesses are seeing how it can help prepare the business for transfer to the next generation.
One participant who works with a Chinese-owned family business sees how coaching can help develop mid-level leaders to help the controlling owners get things done more efficiently and effectively, even without giving away the "family secrets."
Executives in some Fortune 500 companies that operate here in the Philippines have discovered how coaching can be used as a key leadership development tool to improve performance.
What seems to change from culture to culture is the relative emphasis on skill gaps, perceptual biases, and behaviors that might get in the way of results, and how to handle them. Effective coaching explores the issues that prevent the highest performance, and works with people to address them — whether they are perceptual, behavioral, organizational, or cultural.
One doesn't have to change their culture, but rather learn how to embrace the unique strengths of the culture while understanding and finding creative and culturally-appropriate ways to handle potential stumbling blocks.
A good coach is of course sensitive to these issues in a particular culture and knows how to help the client recognize and handle them.
For instance, one theme that has come up here, as it does throughout Asia, is how to coach people about asserting correctly, especially when it comes to saying "no." Once this issue is recognized, we can work on ways to be effective and get one's needs met — while still respecting cultural norms.
– Does coaching on strategy still apply? Of course.
– Does coaching on managing one's boss apply? Absolutely.
– What about coaching people to engage and mobilize their employees? This applies, too.
– Eliminating behavioral blind spots that could derail a career? Yes, this applies.
– Identifying and reframing limiting beliefs? Yes.
– Understanding and navigating the politics of an organization? Of course.
– Helping an executive or manager transition to a new role? You bet.
– Coaching a leader to build a high-performance team and culture? Definitely.
– Coaching to manage one's time. Check.
Okay, some things are different. This is the first time I've started a session with a re-energizing dance to loud symphonic music — led by one of the government commissioners (Nobody really needs to see me dance). And one session ended with an attorney serenading me on stage with a karaoke version of a Carpenter's song — never had that happen at a seminar, either. This is the first time I've led an executive coach training in the middle of a typhoon (and yet people still braved two hour drives to get here). And without a doubt, this is the most joyful crowd I've trained yet; the laughter is refreshing and the participants naturally use humor and have fun.
Other than that, I have yet to find a country where the leaders, managers, and executives can not get great value in the discipline of coaching.