There’s no singular way in which leadership coaches plan their days; there’s no one formula to success or the perfect way of executing one’s life that makes them good at their profession. So, what is the intent of this particular piece? Well, it’s simply to give you a glimpse into the lives of two leadership coaches who have spent the last decade in the profession and, more importantly, have found success and satisfaction in it. There are many who come into this profession, but only a few who continue with sustained passion and success. So, we are decoding what goes in these coaches’ days and minds, so that aspiring leadership coaches can find inspiration and pave their own path to success! Let’s get started.
We are curating insights from our conversation with two coaches – Ram Gopalan & Venkat Raghavan G. Let’s learn a bit about them.
Venkat Raghavan G: Fromer Partner & Vice-President at IBM, Venkat Raghavan G is now a practicing executive & leadership coach certified by Marshall Goldsmith. He has coached founders, CEOs, and senior management teams on brand management, domain expansion & driving profitable growth.
Ram Gopalan: Recognized by CHRO Asia as one of the most talented coaching leaders in India, Ram Gopalan is a Marshall Goldsmith certified coach who has coached leaders across the spectrum: from technical engineers, sales staff through to creative teams, as well as across cultures. He has a track record for building successful teams, including an award-winning digital agency that supported global clients such as Coca-Cola, Seagrams, Taco Bell and Citibank.
Venkat gives us a beautiful macro-overview of what his approach as a leadership coach looks like. He follows a model called:
This denotes preparing in a multitude of ways:
a. Session: On Sundays, before the week officially starts, Ram likes to sit and focus on his calendar and plan for the upcoming week – for coaching sessions, travel plans, scheduling, rescheduling, and sending reminders if needed.
Both Venkat and Ram like to prepare before a session with their client by looking at the notes they have made in previous sessions and threading together the pieces. This can be made easier by having a coaching management platform that allows you to take session notes and keep them handy – both Ram & Venkat use Simply.Coach.
Another important aspect for both Ram and Venkat is to prepare themselves 5-10 minutes before a session begins – in order to get into the right zone and mindset. On an average working day, they have 2-3 hour-long coaching sessions. For the most part, they keep their weekends free of sessions.
b. Client’s industry: Apart from session preparation, Ram & Venkat follow a common practice of conducting research on the domain and industry of their clients and important updates and trends to be able to fully understand their context. After approximately a decade of coaching, at this point both Ram and Venkat have certain types of clients that come their way more than others, thus the industries tend to remain constant in general. “I particularly like reading Wall Street Journal and Economic Times – helps me understand the context of the clients I usually work with,” says Venkat. Ram swears by The Ken for trends regarding business, start-ups, technology, and more.
There are exceptions in the industry a client belongs to every now and then, of course, which results in spending more time researching and familiarising themselves.
c. Coaching industry: An important piece in solving the coaching puzzle is to constantly be in touch with what’s happening in the coaching industry in general. Reading trends and predictions in leadership coaching is a big part of Ram & Venkat’s routine. HBR and McKinsey Quarterly are high on both their lists! For Ram, this also includes checking relevant pages on LinkedIn. He particularly looks forward to updates and learnings from Marshall Goldsmith.
d. Self-study: For Venkat, reading the Farnam Street blog is a big one.
A major part of Ram’s preparation comes from books he reads for his own personal growth. “At any given time, I am reading 10-15 books in parallel. A chapter here, a snippet there…” says Ram. “I’m reading on topics related to whole person: it could be on health, leadership, spirituality, mindfulness, metaphysics…a whole variety of things. While they may not be directly connected to my clients, having knowledge in those areas may help me understand my client better or help relate with them better.”
e. Self-care: It is important, no matter how busy one is, to take time out for one’s own wellbeing. This will be different for everyone based on what their values and interests are and what their day looks like. For Ram, this involves going for a walk or run by the beach in the early morning, followed by doing a meditation practice. Since he is a biker, Ram finds that stepping out of the confines of the four walls and going for a ride on his motorcycle refreshes him immensely!
After preparing themselves for sessions and gaining insights around the client’s context in general, the next step is execution.
a. Before session: Both Venkat and Ram are sticklers for time, so they usually log in to each session 5 mins before the official session time. “Sometimes clients come into the session a bit early. Being present ahead of time allows us to warm up and chat a little informally before commencing the session – I find this small step quite helpful in my coaching practice,” says Venkat.
To ensure that the day and week is on the right track, Ram makes it a practice to send reminders to his clients for their upcoming session and for completing a pending action item, if assigned. Since Ram and Venkat have digitized their coaching processes on Simply.Coach, this action gets done by the coaching management platform automatically. Doing so has reduced a lot of their busy-work that several coaches face on a regular basis. Simply.Coach sends session reminders along with automatically generated video conferencing links – this is on top of nudges to remind clients to finish their tasks and action items in due time.
b. During session: At the time of a session, it takes skill and practice to listen to the client while making notes in an unobtrusive way – to ensure that the coach is always present with the client. “One needs to make notes but can’t have their head in their notebook or keep clacking away on the keyboard while the client is speaking. It requires a bit of mental gymnastics to keep filing away important pieces in the mind to refer to and staying present at the same time,” says Venkat. Immediately after the session is over, both coaches sit for some time to put together their thoughts and notes from the session so that they may refer to it later, if required.
Another aspect that is important in the ‘Execution’ stage is to ensure that the session is going in the right direction. According to Venkat, it is okay to let the client meander for the initial 5-10 minutes, but then both the client and coach need to return to the set objective. For this, a coach needs to maintain constant consciousness and awareness.
c. Weekly: On specific days of each week, both coaches carve out some time to create valuable content to share for their marketing efforts. Depending on what they are focusing on – client acquisition or client retention – their marketing execution plan changes. But largely, it involves creating thoughtful posts for their LinkedIn followers, sending emailers & newsletters, or attending industry events for networking.
d. Monthly: Raising invoices to coaching clients is more of a once-a-month task and is done on a recurring basis at the end of the month.
The process of raising invoices and payment collection can also be automated with the help of Simply.Coach!Check it out here.
It is impossible that we speak about coaching and not bring in the aspect of reflection! Reflection in coaching is not limited to clients only but figures majorly in the coach’s life too.
“I like to reflect on the value that I am providing to my clients and their profession and whether or not I am working with the right type of clients to begin with. After reflecting on this aspect to understand if my client is getting value from me, I then ask if I am getting value from coaching them,” says Venkat.
Ram recommends that it is good practice to step back at least once during the day and ask oneself if the activity they are performing is contributing to being at least one of the following: healthy, wealthy, or wise. By using these three lenses, he is able to course correct and get on the right trajectory, if something doesn’t quite fit.
Aside from this, Ram & Venkat carve out time on a weekly or bi-monthly basis to figure out what areas they need to work on in order to upgrade and upscale themselves. For Ram this takes shape by signing up for a variety of online courses in fields that are relevant and important to him – like negotiation skills or influencing skills. Venkat, on the other hand, likes to reflect on the nuances of mentoring, advising, consulting and counselling that often permeate into coaching and whether or not he is staying within the boundaries and ideating on what he needs to do to upgrade himself.
We hope this article gave you some useful insights into what a day in the life of a leadership coach looks like! No two coaches and their work are alike and even though Ram & Venkat have some overlaps in their thought processes and coaching methodologies, they have completely distinct coaching styles and timelines that are unique to them.
Their own routines and rituals are also not set in stone and go through changes and evolution depending on different seasons and phases of their lives. But the idea is that having routines, rituals, and disciplines can help coaches create more flexibility in their lives. By providing you a peek into the lives of two veteran leadership coaches, we hope we’ve provided some inspiration for your future as a coach!
1. What does a day in the life of a leadership coach look like?
Every coach’s life and routine are distinct and unique to themself, but on an average day, a leadership coach has 3-4 coaching sessions, either scheduled one after the other or scattered across different times in the day. The times they are not actively in a coaching session, time would be allocated for business management and client management activities like creating content for marketing efforts to gain new clients or sending reminders and nudges to existing clients, scheduling sessions for the upcoming week, researching and studying client notes to prepare for sessions…and so much more!
Simply.Coach is an enterprise-grade coaching software designed to be used by individual coaches and coaching businesses. Trusted by ICF and EMCC-credentialed coaches worldwide, Simply.Coach is on a mission to elevate the experience and process of coaching with technology-led tools and solutions.
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