A Start to Coaching in Nepal…

5 July 2021 - Rachana Khatri

By: Bahar Kumar

Back in February 2021, we decided to design a leadership coaching training program under the ‘Transforming Nepal’s Female Deputy Mayors’ initiative supported by The Asia Foundation – Nepal’s South Asia Small Grants Program. We initially were planning to bring UK-based, Academy of Executive Coaching, but they were unable to secure trainers to conduct virtual training. After the initial panic subsided, we decided to partner with Coach Me Nepal to co-create and design a coaching training program catered to the Nepali context. Once again, in the midst of scarcity – emerges innovation! 

We took up the challenge to design and facilitate a Nepali-based coaching training program for 11 participants. Six of the participants are providing coaching sessions to a cohort of 18 female Deputy Mayors in Province 3 while also coaching their staff, teachers, entrepreneurs, and young leaders.

Bhuwan Sharma and Nabila Banu of Coach Me Nepal are Nepali trained Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) coaches who are part of an emerging group of local coaches, and co-facilitators for the training program. Together we started blending different tools, techniques, and approaches that we felt would provide a good foundation for Nepali coaches. We rolled out the program across four monthly modules allowing participants to apply and practice their new skills as they were learning them. Each module built upon the other, moving from basics to more complex models to help coaches facilitate deeper conversations. Just like everyone else, we were dynamic, moving from in-person training to a virtual platform, capturing valuable learnings to help us improve. 

We covered tools such as powerful questions, the GROW Model, Scaling, As-If Shifts, Co-Active Coaching, the Wheel of Life, Meta Models, Solutions-focused Coaching, the OSKAR model, using objects, space in the room, metaphors, and stories to help coachees discover new “aha!” moments about themselves and tap into their more resourceful selves.

“My biggest learning from this program was the need for me to simply start taking risks and following my intuition more. I have started asking bolder questions and the results have been simply exhilarating. What I have realized is that the more I challenge myself to take risks, the more I am challenging my clients, which in turn only leads to my clients getting to their outcome faster and with more clarity. As I truly start trusting myself more, my clients’ trust in me actually grows. The biggest gift of this program to me has been to really inspire me to trust and follow my own instinct.”

Bhuwan Sharma, Managing Director, Coach Me Nepal

Coaching needs a thorough explanation in the context of Nepal. What is coaching, how it works, how it’s different from the training that Deputy Mayors have been taking? It felt like I was explaining a completely new approach and idea to my coachees. Initially, it felt new to them but once we did our 3rd round of coaching they understood how coaching makes them aware and realize all the possibilities. It helps them see, think and plan beyond just in their head. Now they are vocal and try to go deeper inside their heart and put their intentions into words. The more aware they become about how coaching can make them resourceful, their confidence in making changes spikes. I have realized that many people in Nepal don’t know much about coaching but with continuous effort and explanation many will not only be aware of coaching but will be able to feel the difference in their life that coaching can make.”

Nabila Banu, Executive Director, Coach Me Nepal

Our biggest challenge was to figure out the best way to apply these coaching tools in Nepali. How do we adapt these Western approaches to the Nepali cultural context? How do we ask these same questions in Nepali? Will they have the same result? What do coaching conversations and relationships look and feel like in Nepal… especially with female Deputy Mayors?! This is part of our innovative discovery. Taking an existing concept and applying it to a new context is ultimately what innovation is. Gathering ongoing feedback and iterating as we go, to maximize impacts has been our process with our startups, and it’s the same valuable process that we’ve utilized here. The result – a version 1.0 prototype for a Nepali coaching program!

“I’ve realized that coaching is a very important professional and personal skill. My major learning from this coaching training has been that listening and comprehension go hand in hand. It’s not just about asking a lot of questions but asking powerful questions that helps the coachee reflect and introspect. I feel like I have become a good listener after being a coach.”

Dipasa Bista, Development Officer, WomenLEAD Nepal

Our next step is to develop a Coaching Training Manual that will highlight our process, approach, key learnings, and a way forward to further grow and strengthen coaching in Nepal. Coaching tools and approaches applied will be presented through an adapted Nepali lens. We’ll highlight case stories to showcase the outcomes and impact of leadership coaching for female Deputy Mayors. Following that will be an ongoing process to further refine this 1.0 prototype so that it remains relevant and robust for diverse Nepali leaders across political, development and, private sectors. For now, we’re excited to cross this milestone by jumping into space we weren’t quite sure about, and coming out inspired by the journey we’ve seeded for coaching in Nepal!