By Atty. Paul Roderick A. Ysmael
A transformative learning experience that every corporate leader should undertake. This is Executive Coaching or “Coaching towards Success” of Benchmark Consulting of Mr. Julius Ordonez.
When BPI Management selected me as one of the participants of Benchmark’s executive coaching program, I thought it would just be another training program that can at least provide some respite from my daily legal work. I was both lukewarm on the idea of “being coached” and being coached not by a great lawyer or a seasoned banker. My previous bosses in my chosen profession were already pillars of the legal profession and the banking world, respectively. In fact, my modest resume will tell you that I have been directly supervised by a great lawyer, the best trained bankers and even by a politician of utmost integrity. I am far from the height of their podiums of course, but it is a possibility that I had learned from them, if not through my regular brain capacity, perhaps by osmosis for being physically being with them, at work and during some celebrative moments with wine.
So, to me who has been a president of a savings bank at age 33, and has led lawyers in various capacities, being sent by my employer to be “further developed” by an executive coach brought some curiosity coupled with skepticism. I was a student leader too who once led the students of our country’s premier state university and even had the chance to represent our nation at the UN Youth Leaders’ Forum. Admittedly there was some arrogance in me. What will I learn from my coach that I haven’t known? This question was easily answered by Julius. Yes, I was lucky to have the country’s “pioneer” of executive coaching as my coach, and the founder of ICF Philippines at that.
I may not be able to tell all the details of our 16 meetings of more than an hour of sessions but to cut the story short, Benchmark’s Julius Ordonez is really the “guru” of executive coaching. And I always say that a person is great if I believe he is really much far greater than me!
Julius started the sessions by allowing me to identify my needs as an executive. He employed the Socratic Method of probing me. After few questions, I found myself telling my wants, both from my job and from my life, my wants for my life and for my job, my needs as a professional and the things that hinder me from achieving or having them. On the second session, I felt some deep personal realization. I discovered through the guidance of my executive coach that most of the things that prevent me from doing things are within myself. Call it whatever you want but I simply describe it as an unlearning with humility.
After just the second session, I forced myself to further discover what lies within me that prevents me from (a) articulating my opinions clearly; (b) asserting my points sharply, (c) managing my personnel to be more productive and participative; (d) maintaining social interaction with my colleagues , and (e) being more sensitive to our client’s needs and concerns. I suddenly got immersed on my self-evaluation and searched more until I was able to identify not only the hurdles but also their causes or reasons.
The coaching process allowed me to have a more systematic analysis of my professional journey. By the “appropriate coaching questions”, I travelled back through my career and knew what things were able to shape and molded me into what I am now. What is striking in this process is that I was able to look more on the “weaker side of me” than my achievements. In this way, I was able to unlearn the bad habits and emptied my mind of my own management style relative to the five things that I mentioned above.
I believe that key to this gradual transformation of me is Julius’ ability to easily connect to his coachee. His mastery of the “coaching process” is evident as he can create a conversation where you can trust him with all the things that you would like to tell. His method opens up “emotional exits” wherein you can freely let out your difficulties, hardships and the challenges of your corporate position.
What I observed is that an executive coach has the impeccable ear to listen to you. He also has that keen mind to read your thoughts and allow them to be revealed through self-discovery. And most especially the executive coach has disciplined lips, wherein he can restrain himself from “sharing” his own opinion. I do not know if this is distinct to Benchmark but their coaching methodology is confined to systematic procedure of self-assessment, self-realization, self-transformation and to the personal commitment to sustain the positive change in one’s self. While you are with a coach, you can eventually claim that “you can change the world all by yourself!”
In a fast-paced corporate setting during the age of technology, executive coaching is needed to fast track the creation of a new management culture based on coaching. This norm of managing people may not be new to the natural coaches. The good thing, however, is that through the introduction of this approach, there can now be a structured yet very transformative and flexible way of creating a new manager or leader. Structured because there is a science in it. It has a step-by-step procedure on how to approach a subordinate and at the same time arming the manager or leader with an effective tool on how he will interact with his or her superiors.
The approach is transformative too. However, the transformation comes from within, which is more efficient than molding a leader through external knowledge or instruction. It transforms one’s potential into actual capabilities as it instills competence and a sense of humility towards willingness to both learn and improve. There is no better way to change a person than using his innate talents, skills and academic background that he is unable to use and rediscover.
Coaching is an aided self-discovery or self-rediscovery. The guidance of the coach through series of conversations and interactions is aimed to help the person in his exploration of himself. The coach will not give you new talents or skills. He will not lecture about anything. Once you get into your sessions, you will just be hearing questions ranging from what to why and to how. The questions are about what you want, have or what is happening around you. The questions are also about who you are, your plans, needed results, means of achieving things and the meaning of all the foregoing.
A corporate culture based on coaching creates leaders with coaching capabilities. The relationships will change from subordinate/supervisor to teammates. The communication will be more interactive and not instructive. The assignments will be more of coordinated rather than delegated. Ownership of projects and their successes will be owned both by the teammate and the coach. A coaching environment will be offices without walls, divisions without silos and people without egos.
Problems will be resolved not by dictations or instructions but by well-thought self-discovered methods. Every personnel will be a transformed leader who leads from what he sees fitting and appropriate to a certain situation with confidence and informed decisions. With ownership and accountability, a corporate leader will strive to learn on his own the education that he really needs based on his self-realization. He will have tons of confidence and self-respect and therefore he will always bring his best in very critical situations.
Complement the changed attitude of “coached personnel” with appropriate technology and upgraded processes and surely the organization will reap success!
And I wrote this as my way of appreciating what Julius and Benchmark have done on me as a person and as an executive. I shall be forever grateful to Julius and his team!