Establishing our Pro Bono program

The ICF Mumbai Chapter was founded in 2014 when coaching was beginning to gain momentum in India. There was awareness of coaching, but the understanding of the effectiveness and power of coaching was limited in the community. ICF coaches were hungry to learn and get connected. It was time to brand coaching, ICF and deal with the myths surrounding coaching.

As a Founding Committee, we determined to serve three pillars of society; coaches, corporates and NGO’s. I had returned feeling inspired from GLF and the International Coaching Week (ICW) presented the perfect opportunity to launch pro bono coaching. This initiative allowed us to serve all our critical customers and our vision. We identified NGO’s based on their visibility, corporate connect, level of impact, openness to coaching and size of team. The credibility of the NGO’s and the offer to learn attracted coaches to join the Chapter and participate.

At ICW, we partnered with NGO’s such as Give India, Akanksha, Jai Vakeel and SNEHA. Our committee worked to provide what each partner needed to fulfill their mission.  At Give India, we conducted team coaching sessions for the leadership team. The other NGO’s required only individual coaching. A committee member, who was keen to learn and grow, took charge of the ICW. Several Chapter coaches volunteered for team and individual coaching. Some were also invited as observers. As an expert on team coaching, I led the first team coaching session, giving the other coaches an opportunity to observe, learn and participate intermittently. In the following sessions, the less experienced coaches delivered, while I supported and intervened with awareness.

Building on our Success

The success of coaching week resulted in a request from Akanksha to further develop the capability of the leadership team. Akanksha Foundation is an NGO with a mission to provide high quality education to children from low-income communities. We designed a yearlong series of team coaching sessions interspersed with individual coaching. The team coaching sessions were designed such that a senior coach co-facilitated with a less experienced coach. The coaches had the flexibility to design the session within the overarching theme. For each session, 3 coaches were invited as observers. About 25 or more coaches volunteered on this project in different roles. To ensure alignment with the clients needs and continuity, I designed the overarching framework, co-facilitated the first team coaching session, supervised each session and integrated feedback from the client and coaches.

Learning leads to new opportunity

To share the learning, I encouraged the team leader who had managed the ICW and the Akanksha assignment, to write a white paper on group coaching. This was posted on the Chapter website. Having experienced the success, we requested the CEO’s of the NGO’s and clients for testimonials. The opportunity develops in the safe setting of NGO’s and receiving an affirmation of their efforts, boosted the confidence of coaches to connect with corporates to get paid work.

Through a committee member, we got an invitation to publish the story in the NHRD (National Human Resource Development) magazine. The case study was titled, Coaching Works, Insights on Leadership Development through Group and Individual Coaching. The media acknowledgement further enhanced the credibility and visibility of the effectiveness of coaching and changed the perceptions of Coaching and ICF. Wining the Honorable Mention Award, 2016 ICF Foundation Culture of Giving was yet another acknowledgment of our efforts.

Pro Bono coaching illustrated the entire coaching cycle. From developing business strategically, working collaboratively and flexibly with the team, to delivering effectively in partnership with the client and branding through testimonials and articles, the chapter members had an opportunity to learn. Sharing with abundance and co-creating with awareness with each related party has been the philosophy of the Chapter. We have been able to build a robust community of ICF coaches in Mumbai. As Founder President, I feel honored and privileged for the opportunity to build a community in partnership with passionately committed volunteer coaches, and be a beacon of possibility for coaches and coaching in India.

Lead on my friends,

Ashu Khanna, PCC

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