Reflecting on the leadership roles at companies like Google, Microsoft and Adobe Systems, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal asked why America’s top technology jobs are going to Indian executives. The article goes to say that the reason that this is seemingly the case is that: “Indian managers are future-oriented”, and had a “paradoxical blend of genuine personal humility and intense professional will… These leaders achieved extraordinary results and built great organizations without much hoopla.”
I have had the privilege of coaching various executive leaders from India and Sri Lanka for some time now, and agree with the perspective that this part of the world is producing a new generation of strong leaders; individuals who are forward looking, driven and wanting to get things done.
I was recently in Bangalore as part of an overall leadership development programme where top executives attended an experiential workshop over a couple of days followed by 1-1 coaching. The training venue had an incredibly unique layout (as you can see from the photo above), from the Tutankhamen statue at the entrance through to the cricket pitch complete with grandstand at the back. Like much of my experience as an executive coach in this part of the world, the resort represented the coming together of culture and ideas in a unique way.
On the way back from Bangalore I reflected on why I find my coaching experience in this part of the world always so rewarding, and moreover what this means at a macro sense for these burgeoning economies. After some thought I believe there are four key reasons why executive coaching in this part of the world is so enriching:
1. Talented individuals
In countries where there are large populations, it simply stands to reason that those who find their way to the top of the corporate ladder have something special that makes them stand out from the crowd. I am inspired by the life stories of the people I coach. Whether it is putting themselves through university in a foreign country, completing multiple post graduate and professional qualifications, overcoming personal tragedy, or continually adapting to new technology, the focus, tenacity and passion of these executives is impressive.
2. A strong desire to make change
There is a natural gratitude I find with executives that I coach from India and Sri Lanka. They genuinely recognise that life is a combination of ability, willingness and opportunity, and they are keen to create opportunities for those around them. In this regard, they are committed to changing organisations for the better and paving the way so that future generations are able to go further.
3. An honest desire to be better leaders of people
The executives that I work with in India and Sri Lanka have a real desire to be better leaders. They want to know where they can improve and have a commitment to addressing these areas. They also want to identify their strengths and learn how to play to these better. Ultimately, the Indian and Sri Lankan executives that I have had the privilege to coach genuinely want to master leadership and as a result are receptive to the process of coaching.
4. The capacity to think big
When you are part of an economy with billion dollar companies, you are simply not constrained by thoughts of being mediocre. There is a desire to dream big and a belief that there is no reason that it cannot happen. The men and women which I coach see themselves as part of making this happen.
India and Sri Lanka are thriving economies that will be economic powerhouses in the future. India alone is touted to be the largest economy by 2050 (“The Wealth Report 2012”, Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank, 2012). To have an opportunity to contribute to that growth as a professional coach is incredibly rewarding. To do so while working with such talented people makes the job of a coach hard to beat.