Bridging THE GAP. Meet the expert on executive coaching. – Bangkok Post.

I had lunch recently with Ian Claffey, a veteran executive coach from London. Having also provided executive coaching for clients in Bangkok for several years, I was keen to exchange some views with a fellow practitioner. After the main course, I asked my first question: “How would you describe executive coaching and its benefits?”

Ian replied: “Executive and performance coaching has seen rapid growth worldwide over the past five years, yet it’s not such a new concept. Over the centuries, emperors and kings had their advisers, individuals who would offer alternative and impartial views on any given situation.

“It would be difficult to imagine athletes working out on their own without having coaches to give advice, hoping the skills they are developing are the ones needed. The same for the corporate world. The benefits of coaching in this particular arena are increased performance, strong goal focus, clear objectives, raised morale, along with awareness of how our behaviour impacts on others and how the behaviours of others affect us.”

I said: “I read an interview recently with a CEO from a large local conglomerate. He said: “When I need additional help, I normally read a book. There does not seem to be great deal of support available for top management.’ Basically, he is not aware of executive coaching services. What’s your opinion?”

Ian explained: “People had the same perception some years ago in the West. Fortunately, these days corporate professionals are fast realising that having a coach can be a real asset. It’s said that `It’s tough at the top’, and it sometimes can be, but having someone capable and impartial to bounce your ideas off can make all the difference. Many organisations, with offices around the world, are handing coaching duties over to professional coaches who have no other involvement within the organisation. Knowing that the coach-client relationship is completely confidential creates an unrestricted environment in which the individual can investigate concerns and explore new concepts.”

I nodded. “That’s interesting; would you explain more about the process and possible outcomes?”

Ian continued. “Having an executive coach is important when developing interpersonal skills that will invariably lead to better outcomes, both for the organisation and on a personal level. Agreed goals, which individuals, departments or organisations wish to accomplish, are put in place. These goals can either be people- or work-related, they may even be of a personal nature. Some additional areas coaching may cover include the development of people or communication skills, assertiveness training, team building and work-life balance issues. Coaching can also play a major part in helping staff to cope with changing roles and promotion.”

“How does coaching work when executives are travelling so much?” I asked.

Ian smiled. “Good question. The use of International executive coaching becoming commonplace, and having a global client list is how many coaches tend to work. The coach could be based in London but the client could be anywhere in the world – Bangkok, New York or Sydney. After the initial contract is set up, coaching can be conducted by a videoconference, or simply over the telephone. A session can be put into the diary just like any other appointment.”

Then I asked: “What is your particular interest in the Thailand market?”

Ian said: “Thailand is an emerging market for executive coaching services, and as East meets West, the opportunities for both cultures to form alliances and learn from each other is endless. This is why I was happy to accept the challenge of spearheading the Association for Coaching, Southeast Asia.”

The AC ( was founded in 2002. An independent non-profit organisation, its aim is to promote best practices, raise awareness and standards across the coaching industry, as well as provide value-added benefits to its members, whether they are professional coaches or organisations involved in coaching.

“I joined the Association for Coaching because I recognised there was a need for a coaching body that would offer membership to coaches with energy, enthusiasm, integrity, strong ethics and a professional understanding of the need for client confidentiality” said Ian.

“My own career started in London’s Harley Street, and after developing a successful private practice, I moved into the corporate world. Having now coached across several countries, industries and disciplines, I find that whether I am coaching at the board level – MDs, North Sea oil engineers, corporate lawyers or financial-services professionals, there is one common shortcoming. Very few resources are invested in coaching executives on how to look after their main people, and equally as important, how to look after themselves.”

If readers would like to find out more about Ian and executive coaching in general, they can contact him by e-mail at