Professor Sattar Bawany is the CEO and Master Executive
Coach of Centre for Executive Education (CEE Global). His interest in coaching started in 1998 when he was given the opportunity to move from HR consulting, and learning and development roles, into the business side
of organisational management with the Hay Group where they offered him to complete a coaching certification from Hay/McBer, the then Organisation Effectiveness & Management Development business
unit of the Hay Group.
Since then he has held a number of significant roles including seven years as the ‘Head of Coaching Practice’ for DBM. As Head of Transition Coaching (for four years), Sattar Bawany then moved into talent management and executive coaching across the Region, and was part of the global leadership team looking at bringing coaching across the Regions globally, implementing and developing new coaching opportunities with clients.
More recently he started his own company, Centre for Executive Education (CEE Global) focused on executive development and executive coaching and he is also the Managing Director of EDA in Asia Pacific.
Over past 15 years in executive coaching, Sattar has been focused on developing high potentials and accelerating them into senior management roles (60 per cent of his time) and on developing leadership effectiveness with mid-senior people, focusing on emotional intelligence competencies (40 per cent of his time).
He is highly regarded and I drew on his experience to talk about coaching leaders and how executive coaching has evolved over the past ten years.
Moving away from ‘something wrong with you’
Sattar agrees that the perception of executive coaching has evolved significantly over the past ten years. ‘The perception used to be that when you are given a coach, ‘something is wrong with you’, and he says ‘this has improved over the years – to become a benefit and a privilege. Coaching provides the opportunity for the executive to develop their leadership effectiveness to increase business performance, and they appreciate this opportunity.’
‘Executive coaching is specifically focused at developing the top executive – the top senior level potential – and shifting the limits of their paradigm. It provides highly individualised support, based on strengths; allows them to consider their values, goals and impact on others; and provides insights into leadership emotional and social
The focus of executive coaching
For Sattar, executive coaching often has two focuses: (1) the individual leadership effectiveness of the executive and (2) improve business results. He has seen many times how ensuring the development and growth of the individual executive, and supporting executives to make their own changes to become more effective, leads directly to improved business results of the organisation.
He reflects that ‘not all executive coaches are prepared to be challenged to create a level of self-awareness, but it is necessary to create that awareness in the leaders who are already successful to become more effective.’
He continues, ‘the leader has a direct the impact on the organisational environment. Their ability to create a positive climate means they achieve talent retention and the ability to attract talent. Coaching talented people in turn adds to client retention and this results in better organisational success and outcomes.’
‘A coaching culture all starts with the leader’s willingness to engage in the coaching relationship and to undertake self-reflection, to develop themselves and others.’
Best practice starts with the leaders
Many organisations used to call on Sattar because there was an issue! However, over the years he has observed (and been a part of) the movement towards more and more coaching as a corporate wide initiative. Each of the initiatives has had one common goal: to enhance the professional development of the leader through the use of a coach.
And when it comes to best practice in introducing coaching within an organisation, Sattar says ‘generally it is a known fact that endorsement and support from the top makes everything easier.’ He says, ‘I strongly believe that one of the effective leadership styles needed is coaching and that all leaders should be given the opportunity to develop their coaching style.’
It is more common now for companies to start with coaching the executives and usually the CEO is involved. Sattar says, ‘the discussion starts with Head of Business or CEO, and a conversation around how coaching can address the objectives that the business unit head has in mind.’ For example, he might work with the CEO, sometimes with the Board to develop succession planning for future leaders and work with a newly appointed CEO during a transition period.
Influencing a coaching culture and results
Sattar echoes what our research and practical experience have shown, and that is: ‘in order to bring coaching through as a culture, you have to have the right champion.’ He considers that person to be the Head of HR, Head of Business Unit and those people who strongly believe in developing people. His approach is to start with a small group to develop success and then to cascade coaching down through levels.
‘There are many other interventions that you can do,’ comments Sattar, ‘so you need to clearly understand why are you investing in executive coaching. As leaders realise the personal benefits of executive coaching, they are more and more likely to influence the culture of coaching within the organisation. This enables them to have a positive impact on business results, prevent mistakes and build long-term business success.’
‘There is lots of opportunity if they are positive and open to receive coaching.’
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