Proponents of Coaching in The Gulf Region


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4 min
Brief: 
  • Coaching is the right approach for efficient learning as growth happens when the coachee takes on an active role and becomes the driver for change.
  • Thorough understanding of the values and culture in the Gulf Region is instrumental in building good chemistry with the coachee.
  • Coaching should focus on improving the performance of government workers who, generally, have the highest need for coaching—and are usually the most difficult to coach!

Many nations, organizations, and employees in the Gulf region enjoy access to the latest and most advanced technologies and practices; yet, they fail to realize their goals and aspirations. They have—for a long time—relied on the traditional learning methods of consulting and training, though returns haven’t always been on par with aspirations and expectations. Surprisingly, this was anticipated five centuries ago.

"You cannot teach a person anything; you can only help him find it within himself."

Galileo Galilee

It is time to try something different. In this article, we advocate the use of coaching, but with discretion! We believe that:

  • Coaching is the right approach because it relies on the fundamental premise that learning and growing happens when the beneficiary (i.e., coachee) takes on an active role and becomes the driver for change.
  • Coaching works because, unlike most other approaches, it requires getting close to the coachee. One risk though, is that it can get very personal.
  • For the coach to succeed, they need to speak the language of the coachee and understand the issues and situations of their environment. In other words, be sensitive to their cultural norms, values, and principles.

Coaching Background

Coaching, as a distinct profession, is relatively new (since 1990). A coach is someone who is supportive and non-judgmental. To assist the coachee in finding solutions, they observe, listen, provoke, dialogue, give constructive feedback, energize, and inspire.

Coaching is performed through weekly meetings (sessions) between the coach and the coachee that last for 45 to 90 minutes, either through face-to-face or telephone communication. The coachee sets the agenda, while the role of the coach is to help the coachee overcome challenges and take advantage of potential opportunities. Efforts should be focused on discovering and highlighting the coachee’s strengths in order to link their internal capabilities with the potential external opportunities using more effective means. It would be a nice gesture if the coach joined the coachee in celebrating their successes.

Coaching in the Gulf Region

There are certain characteristics of the people in the Gulf Region that have a direct impact on coaching; including:

  1. The native language is predominantly Arabic. Though many speak English, especially in the oil and investment/banking sectors, it is important to note that the English-speaking locals’ command of the English language is highly variable.
  2. The predominant religion is Islam. After all, Islam embraces certain values and behaviors in relation to a host of aspects of people’s lives (e.g., gender, openness, and extent of disclosure), especially in life coaching. That being the case, it is important to note that religion plays a key role in people’s social and business lives.
  3. The workforce is highly non-homogeneous. But supervisory roles, in general, tend to be held by locals.
  4. The governments, in general and to a large extent, control the performance of the various economic sectors. They do this either directly as buyers of products and services, or indirectly as providers of physical and non-physical services (e.g., building infrastructure, issuing commercial licenses, giving labor permits, etc.).

Based on the above, we would like to make the following recommendations regarding coaching in the Gulf Region:

  • Arabic speaking coaches are preferred, especially in the public sector and for local coachees.
  • Thorough understanding of the values and culture in the region is instrumental in building good chemistry with the coachee.
  • Gender is a factor, especially for life coaching. In general, it is advisable for the coach and coachee to be of the same gender.
  • Coaching should focus on improving the performance of government workers who, generally, have the highest need for coaching—and are usually the most difficult to coach!
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