Everyone, always, has something to learn: An executive coaching case study (Part 1 of 2)
When my colleague Vanessa Fudge introduced me to a new client, an ASX listed company, 16 months ago I couldn’t help but giggle. A Jewish girl was being asked to coach a South Asian practicing Muslim gentleman! This was going to be fun and certainly a first!! I had written a research paper about cultural diversity so here was my chance to put theory into practice.
The first step was to dig into my old university books to refresh myself as to how best this was going to work. Not quite the “in the moment” coaching we like to pride ourselves on but now looking back at it it really prepared me for what to expect.
Here are a few of the things I learned to expect when dealing in this particular culture:
- Individual relationships are valued
- Business contracts aren’t – because there is no trust in the system – so on the contrary relationships are seen as the binding agreement
- “No” is a rarity because of the desire to create harmony
- The society in question is enormously hierarchal and this impacts heavily on management style – it is imperative that the manager acts like a boss, quite the opposite to our much more egalitarian culture
- They believe their best results come from micro managing, again totally in contrast with Western ways
- As a whole they are significantly more committed to business objectives regardless of means than their Australian counterparts. They are also more status conscious.
Armed with this bit of research I went to our first meeting which lasted way over the hour allocated. I was intrigued to get to understand from Arif’s mouth what his past looked like and whether this coaching relationship was going to ever work! After all I was female…
Arif had joined this ASX 200 listed firm about a year prior to kick start a State office. He was expecting to get an impressive title but hadn’t succeeded in this. The CEO however had enough faith in him to pay for a coach to support his efforts. Areas identified for development were:
- Arif was great at engaging people in his team but needed to extend this strength outside his team
- There was a need for him to open up
- As English was his second language he was looking for some help with his presentation skills
- He was treating his team like a family, which was great as long as it stayed small but that wasn’t the intention
- He called everything that wasn’t commercial “fluff”.
This sounded to me like a great opportunity to help him bring passion to his strategy!
Watch out for part 2 next week.