Coaching has become one of the buzzwords of organizational development in Hungary, still, there is roughly a 20-year lag, compared to the US market, says Laura Komócsin, whose recently published English language book, Toolful Coach is about to break the ice bringing a Hungarian coach to the international scene.

Is coaching still a privilege of top managers in Hungary?

Less and less so; although executive coaching is still something only top managers can afford, those leaders who go through a coaching process usually acknowledge its value and decide that other forms of coaching, most importantly business coaching and team coaching, could be useful for their teams, or for certain members of their teams. It is somewhat similar to company cars: only the top dogs will get the Audi A8, but others are still good enough to have a Ford Mondeo or its like. Which is exactly as it was designed to be.

What exactly is the difference between business coaching and executive coaching?

Both of these are one-to-one processes, so the difference is mostly in the content, as top executives usually have very different challenges from “normal” managers. To be able to help in tackling these issues evidently requires different skills and experiences from the coaches themselves. Oh, and the pricing differs substantially, too.

What are the recent trends in coaching in Hungary?

Clients are becoming more open and coaching is becoming more accepted. At the same time, budgets are shrinking, just like everywhere else. As a result, the more affordable forms of coaching come into view, most importantly team coaching and project coaching. These are completely different from one-to-one coaching, but still very useful tools to improve a company’s efficiency. Based on U.S. examples, another coming trend might be remote coaching, for example via Skype, although Hungary is Budapest-centric enough to make it relatively easy for coach and coachee to meet in person. I do use Skype with a few international clients, who travel a lot, though.

What is the single most important skill a coach must have to be successful with a certain client?

What matters most is the chemistry between coach and coachee. This is why we always have a first, introductory session, whose single goal is to determine whether the two can cooperate or not. Trust is of utmost importance. We’ve heard about executives who insisted on the coach’s office being searched, looking for bugs. In a case like this, a good solution is to ask the coachee to suggest a place for the sessions, where he feels completely safe. It can be a café, a restaurant, or anywhere else, even a park. The coachee must not feel that he is being spied on, or that his interests might be harmed in any way. If the coach has the coachee’s unconditional trust, she is almost halfway there.

You almost always refer to coaches as women. Do you consider coaching to be a female profession?

Not necessarily, and I don’t want to be accused of gender talk. Still, there are things that need to be offset or counterbalanced. I recently attended a premiere for a book that collected 50 Hungarian business success stories. I was shocked to find out that not one of those 50 stories was about a woman – they were all men in that book! On the other hand, the first thing you know about a successful businessman is that a woman, who usually remains in the background, supports him. She can be his wife, his mother, or more often than you would think, his coach.
What makes Toolful Coach unique amidst the gazillions of books on coaching?

As far as I’m concerned this is the only one that garners and explains 150 coaching tools and techniques. When I first talked about my plans to write a handbook like that, many thought that I was insane to give away all my experience, but I think that reading about these techniques, or even to have them collected for you, is very different from using them with your clients. Also, if you want to become a recognized expert in your field, it is an imperative to start sharing your knowledge.
What has been the feedback thus far?

Great, well beyond my preliminary expectations. I had inquiries and invitations from all over the world as a result of the book. Also, a very vivid community has formed on the Facebook and LinkedIn pages of the book. It is stunning to see how many excellent ideas and relationships a book like this can spawn.
 

Photo by Agnes Peredi

Will the Hungarian market become too restrictive for you after publishing an English language book?

Look, my vision is to spend my old days travelling around the world from conference to conference lecturing as an internationally acknowledged expert. But the Hungarian market, and Hungary as it is, is very important to me. That’s exactly why I have invested so much on the Hungarian market in the past years. I’ve published three books, trained more than 300 coaches and so on. I think Hungary will continue to be very important to me. Also, I love every bit of what I’m doing here.