Role of Guru (Coach) in Start-ups: Inspire, Energise

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The role of coach has become even more important because of acceleration in the speed of change, multiple moving parts in the organization, and continuous challenges faced by Startups.

Just sharing my thoughts based on interactions with founders and my own experience of starting my journey as the founder of Sarcha Advisors.

Key Takeaways:

A. Engagement:

Building a Coach/ Mentee relationship is an art therefore it is extremely important to take time before finalizing a formal engagement. The relationship is built around trust and mutual respect. The relationship must have a Dilse (heart) connect, Guru needs to be more of a Dost (friend) in the interactions and build a personal and emotional bond with the founder and the company to empathize with the founder.

The Coach must have skin in the game, put his reputation and money in the company and believe himself to be an extension of the founding team. Any compensation should as far as possible be through equity to align interest. The coach must also be assessed by his mentee at least once a quarter to ensure no mismatch in the expectations.

Most of the times the coach has certain beliefs of the past but in current times he needs to be flexible and agile in his thinking, not have any ego and be a minister of the founder to let him take final decision even if it is not in line with the recommendation of the Guru.


B. Role of Coach

The Coach needs to be a clone of the founders to ensure he offers holistic and balanced advice. He needs to be a dost 70% of the time, parent 10% of the time, and child (learner, curious accept feedback) 20% of the time. The Coach needs to provide support in building the foundation of the business, define goals and objectives, some of these are defined below:

  • Facilitate in defining and aligning higher purpose and values of the company and the founder to minimize and friction in thinking and execution in achieving company goals
  • Help in culture building
  • Ensure the founder remains at the center during highs and lows
  • Ensure that the founder takes a balanced view in decision making and thinking trade-offs
  • While most of the time the founder needs to take informed decisions but the coach needs to encourage the founder to take some gut calls as well
  • Encourage experimentation and speed up learning
  • Ensure focus and disciplined approach and priority setting
  • Encourage outcome-driven approach
  • Set stretch goals and develop a performance monitoring framework
  • Be accessible and responsive
  • Be candid in giving and open to receiving feedback.

In conclusion, the Coach needs to be a friend of the founder and inspire and energize the founder and founding team while ensuring they are at peace during the highs and lows of the business and their personal life. The key is to ensure all team members enjoy the journey of creation.

March 2021