Women In Unusual Occupations: Life Coaching

In the ‘Women In Unusual Occupations’ series we talk to women working in relatively new professions in India. Meet Jaya Narayan, a Behavioural/Life Coach.

In the ‘Women In Unusual Occupations’ series we talk to women working in relatively new professions in India. Meet Jaya Narayan, a Behavioural/Life Coach.

Jaya Narayan is a Life Coach and Facilitator. Why did she choose to become one and what does her job entail? How does one become a Life Coach? Jaya answers these questions and more. 

Hi Jaya! How did you gravitate towards becoming a Life Coach?

As a Human Resources professional, I was always deeply involved in developing myself, colleagues and friends. I was consulted when people were at cross roads, wanted to take important decisions and needed validation. When I heard back from them, they said I acted as a sounding board. My intuition and honesty really helped them when they interacted with me. As a professional with the mission to make us realize our potential and be more self-aware, I have offered personal growth labs, expressive art based leadership programs for individuals and organizations.

2 years ago, I chanced upon research articles about India’s unexploited potential for coaching as an organized industry. In my experience, I knew no one who was formally trained or credentialed as a coach. For me this has been a journey of putting two and two together – my passion and the emerging need for trained professionals.

Since Life Coaching is a relatively new one, could you tell us a little about what it involves? How is it different from other training/workshop kind of formats?

Coaching is an experiential and individualized development program. It can be leveraged to achieve short and long-term personal or professional goals. Dialogue, fuelled through powerful questions, is at the heart of the coaching process.

Life coaching deals with clients (you and me) in all their dimensions – personal, professional, relationship, career etc. Sharing feedback from multiple sources to the client is an important element of coaching.

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Training is about imparting knowledge and skills and is often done in a group. Coaching treats each uniquely based on their learning style. Coaching supports active experimentation. Pushing personal boundaries, discovering values and questioning assumptions occur as you try out new approaches and actions. According to research (this is applicable in the Indian context as well) – Coaches are most sought for:

– Working on potential

– Facilitating transitions (role related or personal)

– Addressing behaviours or mindset that could be blocking you in your present or future (in terms of performance or relationship) 

In summary, a coach helps the client find new ways of acting and learning how to learn.

How does one get to becoming a Life Coach? Tell us a little about the training/skills/certifications needed in this space.

There are many global certifying institutions offering open or online programs on various coaching models and methodology. Programs vary in duration, intensity and costs depending on your specific need and how you plan to apply yourself in this field. Before you enrol for a course, reach out to your professional network or to other coaches to check on its credibility and usefulness of the specific offering.

Most credible programs in coaching are aligned to the International Coaching Federation which is the international body of coaching based in the United States of America. An important part of the certification process involves coaching practice. In my experience, this is the most important part of the learning process. It is here that you can evolve your individual style of coaching and gain confidence.

What is the scope for this career in India? What is driving the growth of Life Coaching?

Coaching is nascent in India. Today most people find coaches via word of mouth. The biggest factor driving the need for coaching in India is the desire to be super successful. Most young people are gunning to become leaders and entrepreneurs at such a young age. Our growth oriented economy needs us to deal with constant change, globalization and challenges us to find creative ways to be at the head of the race. This is where a coach can work as your partner to support your personal and professional dreams.

Many organizations hire coaches to support their top talent or leaders. They are engaged for a period of 6-12 months to work systematically to realize their potential or bring to life their development plan.

What advice would you give to women who want to become Life Coaches?

In my view, women are natural coaches. Most women are intuitive and often stay away from offering advice. In my experience, this is the biggest ground rule in coaching. In addition they are natural listeners and relationship oriented. These are the key ingredients to successful coaching.

My advice would be to find the right course, do a lot of practice to perfect your skill and be guided by a professional coach. Articulate a vision of how you would like to engage as a coach. You can be a coach as part of your day job (for leading others) or become a full time professional coach. As in other functions, creating a strong network goes a long way in continuous learning and becoming a brand.

Tell us about a memorable incident/milestone that happened to you in this line of work.

There have been so many people I feel who have been touched via coaching. The biggest feel good factor for me was when a client realized that she wanted to pursue her passion and was in the wrong profession. Her willingness to take the plunge even if it meant going on a road less travelled touched me.

You can learn more about leveraging coaching at Jaya’s blog, No HR Gyan, where here latest posts are about this topic.

*Photo credit: Jaya Narayan.


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