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Wouter Lincklaen Arriëns is the Founder and CEO of TransformationFirst.Asia, Singapore. He coaches teams of leaders in Asia and beyond on driving positive changes in their multigenerational workplaces. Coach Wouter challenges executives and professionals at all levels in their organizations to become inclusive Crossgen Leaders in today’s multigenerational workplaces.

A former monk and banker who bridges East and West, currently lives in the Philippines and Indonesia, and, besides coaching, he is passionate about Asian and multicultural learning, playing the saxophone and wind synthesizer, and learning to play traditional Asian musical instruments.

In a candid chat with Dr Anil Jaggi, Editor-in –Chief, CompanyCSR (leading CSR News & Views Portal), Coach Wouter spoke about his journey as professional Coach and the challenges that of Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, and Boomers and need to address inclusive leadership .

Q: Coach Wouter, can you start by sharing some background about the coaching profession. What is it about and what is the state of coaching profession in India?

The coaching we do is different from sports coaching. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.”

I describe coaching as a “Style of conversation where you help people move forward and overcome obstacles without telling them what to do. It is a transformational rather than a transactional process and relationship.”

For the past two decades, we have seen forward-looking businesses and governments around the world adopting coaching as an effective way to increase performance and help leaders to overcome obstacles, including their self-limiting beliefs. Executive coaching has helped CEOs and other executives to excel in their roles. Coaching has also benefited senior and mid-level professionals, as well as emerging leaders.

In India, as in other countries, professional coaching is a fast-growing profession. Writing in People Matters in 2020, Ashu Khanna, a pioneer coach for senior leaders in India, wrote that there are five Indian ICF Chapters with approximately 4,500 trained coaches across India. Khanna shares, “The pressure to perform, be agile and innovative, develop and empower teams, and a desire to experience life, is clearly making it imperative for leaders to build self-awareness. The reflective presence of a coach helps the client to develop self-awareness and facilitates the client to act relevantly and collaboratively.”

Summing up, the coaching industry in India is growing rapidly and this includes coaches certified with other international coaching associations.

Q: Can you please tell us how coaching is similar or different from training, counseling, and mentoring?

That’s a great question. While there are some similarities among these helping professionals, coaching stands out because it is goal-oriented, depends on collaboration with the client, and allows the client to drive the process. Rather than telling or advising the client what to do (training) or sharing experience from one’s career journey (mentoring), coaching uses a powerful combination of asking open-ended questions and active listening. With its forward-looking perspective, it is also different from counseling, which is focused on resolving past traumas.

Coaching, therefore, is unique among the helping professions. Moreover, research has shown that Gen Ys and Gen Zs in today’s workplaces prefer to be coached over being told what to do. So coaching is also a key ingredient in successful collaboration across the four generations (Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, and Boomers) we have in today’s workplaces. Executives are well advised to learn the basic coaching skills.

Q: Tell us why cross-generational (Crossgen) collaboration is so important today?

Each of the four generations bring their own perspectives and prejudices into the way they show up in the workplace. This is unavoidable. Boomers and Gen Xers have grown up in very different times, historically, and they are prone to believing that their way of gaining success is the best, or even the only, way. The same goes for Gen Yers (often called Millennials) and Gen Zers who are growing up in a world that has changed rapidly and deeply. All around the world, they bring different perspectives and skills into their workplaces and society. Yesterday’s methods are no longer the best solutions for today’s problems.

Businesses and governments are today facing unprecedented challenges in how to bring these four generations together in the workplace to collaborate and innovate how work is done. A recent global survey by Deloitte, an international consultancy, found that 70% of organizations agreed on the importance of a multigenerational workforce to their success. However, only 6% of the organizations reported that their leaders were equipped to deal with it. That’s an alarmingly low percentage.

Worldwide, we see how businesses and governments are struggling with this multigenerational challenge and how it is affecting performance and, especially, their capacity to innovate their products and services. Generational prejudices and stereotyping—stemming from unconscious human biases—are triggering widespread exclusion of staff and are harming performance at every level.

To resolve this, it’s important that leaders find new and better ways of collaboration and mutual respect in the workplace, so that everyone’s capabilities are used to their full potential. That realization has led Coach Vanh and me to create The Crossgen Challenge where corporate leaders can demonstrate how they will drive a positive change in their workplace in just 10 weeks through crossgenerational collaboration.

Coach Wouter, tell us more about The Crossgen Challenge and how corporate leaders can join?

We are excited to welcome corporate leaders from your Conscious Ventures and CompanyCSR networks to join us in The Crossgen Challenge, to take the lead in driving a positive change in their workplace through cross-generational collaboration in just 10 weeks. It’s a hands-on challenge and it starts with each corporate leader inviting three colleagues to form a Collab, comprising at least two of the four generations we see in our workplaces today (Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, and Boomers).

Coach Vanh and I will together coach the leaders and their Collabs to a good result and lots of learning throughout the 10 weeks of the Challenge, which is integrated into your work. The Collabs will, of course, also learn from each other.

The coaching and learning happen in a private online coaching space called Grow3Leaders. As a bonus, leaders joining The Crossgen Challenge will also receive full access to the leadership learning resources in our international community of practice, including guides and videos on the 12 Effective Leadership Behaviors that they can use during the Challenge.

To join The Crossgen Challenge, we invite the leaders (and each of the three colleagues they invite to form a Collab) to visit to purchase a monthly subscription plan that gives immediate access to the private coaching space in Grow3Leaders. It’s that simple.

The Challenge kicks off on Monday 8 January 2024, so the leaders and their colleagues need to be on board before that. The space is already open and leaders can join right away.

You can reach Coach Wouter through his LinkedIn profile –

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