For Sudeep Basnet, after more than a decade of experiencing corporate leadership training programmes, coaching became an area he had to explore himself. Basnet, a lead trainer at Success Inc. has trained more than 100,000 people in his professional life and has been specifically organising coaching courses for the last three years. Success Inc. is a training and development centre that organises more than 200 corporate training and coaching sessions every year. Basnet initially began by participating in training programmes abroad. He became a professional trainer when he realised how he too could train people. Success Inc. addresses organisational challenges through coaching employees at individual levels. It also conducts corporate training for leadership roles, motivation, soft skill enhancement of employees and hosts public programmes where companies can send their employees as participants. In an interview with New Business Age, Basnet shares his views on the importance of coaching in leadership and people management. Excerpts:
How do you define true leadership? How can one acquire professional leadership qualities?
I view leadership as an ability to contribute to other people’s lives and their growth. It is not an inborn quality but a behavioural pattern. It is reflected in one’s behaviour and how s/he empowers other individuals such that individuals achieve their goals.
One can acquire professional leadership qualities by grooming oneself. Another way is by receiving professional training and attending programmes.
How do you assess the situation of corporate leadership in Nepal?
Some organisations still seem to practise conventional models of leadership instead of professional (or new) models. On the other hand, changes are visible in many companies. A new workforce and new leadership styles are striving to adapt with each other. We can hope for progressive changes with growth in the financial status of organisations and enhanced capacities of the new workforce that includes overseas returnees.
Why is it important for a leader to focus largely on “people development”?
People development is overall development of the organisation because it is the people who develop and practice organisational values and culture. Since employees are the ultimate force of an organisation, their development is essential for the long term growth of the organisation and sustainability in the market. Trainings help employees to become sharp, focused and result oriented. When their quality is developed, it results in better performances for the organisation.
Organisations nowadays focus on improving workforce quality, contrary to the old leadership pattern which was only profit-centric. They thought that the more the employees toiled, the more productive they would be.
The fear of losing trained staff to other organisation is gradually subsiding. Organisations have started realising that even if their employee leaves, the chances of recruiting another trained candidate is high as most of the companies nowadays focus on training their workforce.
What are the prerequisites of your leadership programme/training?
We conduct a need analysis of the participants for the leadership training. We figure out challenges faced by the organisation and work on addressing it by getting the desired behavioural changes. The process takes places in the presence of managers and other employees of the company. Informal meetings are conducted after a detailed analysis, followed by content design to address their needs.
Need analysis is basically a research. Employees fill up questionnaires the results of which are discussed with their managers/supervisors who know their subordinates better. Based on their feedback, key measurement areas are identified. We identify real challenges before we conduct our leadership trainings.
Does the training differ according to the type of industry?
We conduct soft skill development programmes that suit all types of organisations. Soft skill is essential for every employee and every team to enhance team dynamics for better outcomes. Soft skill covers various areas including motivational skills, leadership contents, time management, behavioural patterns, attitudes, characteristics, qualities, presentation and interpersonal skills. We conduct our programmes to instil positivity and encourage progressive attitudes and behaviour.
What are the unique features of your leadership training?
Unlike conventional leadership models of the past, I have been conducting leadership development courses in a coaching style. The concept of coaching emerged around the 1960s and came into regular practice in the corporate world in the 1980s. In Nepal too, it has flourished in recent times. Rather than mentoring, the coaching style empowers the team. Empowerment is embedded in our leadership development courses making our leadership training different and more effective than other leadership programmes.
The older leadership style of training emphasised on constantly reminding participants about their roles and responsibilities despite their awareness about it. Nowadays, coaching is practised within leadership development courses as a value-addition tool that empowers employees for their personal growth.
During the training, we run conversational sessions. A coach prepares different types of open-ended questionnaires allowing employees to explore their ideas and opinions. Coaching helps employees to become independent and solve trivial problems on their own. By enhancing their troubleshooting skills, a leader is able to save time from engaging in trivial issues and increase productivity. On the other hand, it makes employees realise that they are able to contribute to the success of the organisation independently. With its visible impact, the use of conversation sessions in coaching has been growing in Nepal.
How does Success Inc ensure it delivers a high impact session?
The impact of our course is visible during the training session itself. We observe gestures, facial expressions, body language and vigour. How they perform during the training shows the impact level of our session. We also conduct a post-training survey to assess our programme’s effectiveness. We reach out to participants after a week and also, periodically, to track the personal and professional life changes introduced by the training. By interacting back and forth with the employees, we ensure that our training is impactful.
How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your training programme?
We monitor participants in two ways. The respective human resource departments monitor changes and the impact among employees through their own system. With time, behavioural changes become visible in people’s reflection, practice and experience. Such changes are monitored by these departments. At Success Inc., we follow up with the participant at least for three months either through telephone conversations or an online survey to understand their behaviour post-training. We also publish newsletters and send mass emails along with useful training-related materials to update and support them after the actual session.
You have conducted both solo and joint training programmes. Which method do you think is more fruitful?
Both solo and combined trainings are effective in their respective ways. But, it depends on the agendas too. Solo training works for agendas that I have my strength in. We also collaborate with different national and international trainers. Training by two persons brings out a variety of ideas and a different experience for the participants.
You have been in the profession for over a decade now. What changes do you think need to be made to the kind of trainings delivered in Nepal?
Human behaviour keeps on changing which calls for newer studies and revised or totally new training programmes. Lengthy and complicated old training patterns have been replaced by swift and systematic ones. Many new ideas have appeared relating to soft skills in the global arena. Trainers have been researching and introducing new techniques to enhance human productivity and effectiveness. Trainers themselves need to participate in various national and international trainings, programmes and conferences to develop their ideas, learn, practice and utilise new techniques and methods.
The culture of employee training is not yet established in Nepal. Instead of measuring productivity and result and focusing on creating learning environments, organisations seem to be inclined towards recreational activities like retreats and office parties.
What message would you like to give to aspiring leaders of Nepal?
The valuable qualities in leadership should be contagious and benefit people working together. As a true essence of good leadership, good leaders should generate many more good leaders.