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Hitesh Porwal

Certified Executive Coach

26 August2019

All training is: is taking a person and making him more productive.

All coaching is: is taking a person where he can’t take himself.

In the realm of an executive’s regular work, the words ‘training’ and ‘coaching’ may often be used interchangeably. Managers often think these two crucial exercises to be identical twins of each other; and therein, lies the confusion.

To start with, both training and coaching are necessary employee-development programs that are designed to improve overall performance levels within an organization, enhance employee engagement and eventually, build a more effective workforce.

But are training and coaching alike in their approach? Are they meant to achieve similar objectives? Indeed NO. Let me clue you in here a little.


Training v/s Coaching: Knowing the Difference

While training is an activity to transfer knowledge (or skills) from the trainer to the trainee, coaching is giving the learner (coachee) a chance to introspect on what he/she is doing -- in the light of his/her objectives, intentions and desired results.

While training leads to only the transfer of knowledge or skill, coaching results in increased self-awareness and clarity; factors that often unlock one’s peak capacity, competency, and sometimes, aptitude.

If you are an executive or a leader, being aware of what could be holding you back is a great insight to have. In fact, it is essential to deciding if you need training or coaching.

Let us consider a couple of examples:

1.      A financial services company has been taken over by a software company. The software company mandates all employees of the financial services company to use their new software. In this case, the vice-president - Operations of the financial services company and his team will have to undergo training on the new software that would be used going forward.

While getting trained, the VP realizes that his motivation levels have taken a sudden hit right after the acquisition. He feels a sense of insecurity, but he realizes that it isn’t real. He is unable to lead his team with the same fervor and passion as he did prior to the acquisition. More importantly, he isn’t able to figure out what is really wrong with him. Can any amount of training get the VP to shrug off his inability to work at optimum potential? The answer is NO. It is here that coaching can help.

A coach can step in, and through inquiry, pinpoint what exactly could be limiting the VP from feeling motivated and delivering stellar contributions. A coach, by enabling the VP to take new actions and making him accountable for those actions, would hand-hold till the VP regains his lost flair, aptitude and motivation.


2.      A marketing Director in a pharmaceutical company has lost interest in his job and is now intent on becoming an entrepreneur. He intends to import a new medical device from Germany and make it available across a number of hospitals in India, by leveraging his contacts.

 But there are two things stopping him from pursuing his endeavors. One, he isn’t sure if his interest in entrepreneurship is real. Two, he is afraid to fail.

Here, coaching can infuse a fresh lease of life into the Director. The coach will help him put his fears in perspective, and suggest practicable actions to possibly mitigate those fears. A coach, through inquiry, will also make him aware of his own motivations to switch from job to entrepreneurship.

 The end result could be that either the Director drops the idea of becoming an entrepreneur or starts pursuing it with new-found clarity and an upbeat mind.


Fundamentals of training

  • Carried out within a group setting
  • Majority of the conversation is a monologue by the trainer; 98% of talking is done by the trainer
  • Rests on the belief that people are homogeneous and learn in the same fashion
  • Focus on imparting a new objective, skill or knowledge
  • Usually involves minimal accountability and zero follow up
  • Learning-focused activity


Fundamentals of coaching

  • One-on-one exercise
  • The coach is essentially the listener; usually, only 20% of the talking is done by the coach
  • Relies on explicit emphasis on framing disciplined, self-directed questions (also called Socratic questioning)
  • Rests on the belief that people are unique, their individual motivations are different
  • Coach specializes in understanding blocks and triggers of the coachee
  • Rests on removing your blind spots and propelling you to the next level of growth using your own new potential
  • Coachee is equipped to act (with deadlines) to produce desired results; and take accountability for actions
  • Development-focused activity


When Can Training Fail?

The problem with the human species is that we don’t remember most things too well. According to various studies, as much as half the information you get via a presentation is lost on you within an hour. Within a day, almost 70% vanishes into thin air. Further stretch it to a week, and you’d be left with only 10% of the message.

For training to be successful, it should be followed up with practice and refresher courses so that you retain the imparted knowledge or skills.


When Can Coaching Fail?

If the coachee doesn’t open up to the coach and doesn’t authentically share his/her fears and motivations substantiated with real life examples, the coach may not understand the case properly. Also, if the coachee doesn’t take accountability and complete necessary actions (new tasks, experiments suggested by coach) on time, a coach would then have little room to play with.


Coaching and Training: Differences, Explained

Parameter Training Coaching
Core focus Impart knowledge, refresh existing skills Alignment between actions and intentions
Term Usually short term Long-term focus
Relationship Highly transactional, with onus on trainer to impart new skills More transformational; ownership of actions is with the learner
Approach Trainer-led activity wherein trainer is considered expert; activities, role play, discussions are the preferred modes Learner-led activity wherein learner is the fulcrum of the exercise; life-related scenario, experience, action and metaphor-based
End result Increased skill set and increased knowledge Increased awareness of one’s drivers, ability to leverage one's operating mechanism, enhanced levels of critical thinking, and better decision making ability


How does a Coach work?

A certified coach will step back from the situation, and allow himself a closer, more objective look at the state of affairs plaguing you. He will evaluate the situation without any bias, and subsequently help you identify the blind spots that could be holding you back. Charting out a winning development plan for you (and guide you along the way till you accomplish the objective) is exactly what an expert coach would do.


In Conclusion

As an executive, you often know exactly what is stopping you from achieving big in your career.  If it is stemming from a lack of knowledge or skill, a relevant training course could do the job. On the contrary, if it is due to some kind of fear or a block which you aren’t able to put your finger on or overcome, work with a coach.

Executive coaching is relatively new to the Indian corporate landscape. It is currently prevalent only among the C-suite executives. Since it is often lonely at the top and failure is not an option, executives in the top echelon truly understand the value brought in by an executive coach.

While most corporate do have a training budget, very few have a standalone coaching budget. However, that is expected to change as organizations realize the importance of investing in and transforming specific members of the core management team to effect an overall transformation. These members could either be existing leaders or potential leaders of the future. Conversely, they might also be the weak links. After all, the speed of a group is often determined by its slowest member.


WealthPal provides certified executive coaching to corporate executives and aspiring businessmen. Hitesh Porwal is a certified executive coach from ICF. He runs a 6-week Entrepreneurship E-Lab coaching program which is conducted live and online.

You can get in touch with Hitesh Porwal at