I am a psychotherapist and an Ontological coach by training and approach. 16 years of being a coach has been rewarding.  I have walked with senior leaders in designing and creating the life and career they seek.

Wiki’s definition of Ontology is this ‘Ontology is the philosophical study of being, as well as related concepts such as existence, becoming, and reality’. I share this to set a context for the nature of my coaching focus.

I coach leaders in these areas:

  • Impact & Influence
  • Changing relationships with key stakeholders
  • Conversational Intelligence
  • Designing their Good Life
  • Finding purpose & passion
  • Transitioning into expanded roles

Contact and Background:

Corporate clients as well as individual leaders start by setting up a chemistry or a discovery session. This is where I  introduce my background and approach to coaching. They get to walk me through their stuck places and what they are seeking. I appreciate clients being discerning.  They ask me pointed questions about the process and the real ways they will benefit.

This enables both sides to make an assessment if we have a good fitment and comfort with each other. We cannot be coached when we do not feel we can learn or benefit from the coach. Most corporate clients would have received my profile and would have chosen to speak to me. I am often keen to know what attracted them to my profile. I seek to understand their gut feel and what is motivating their choice of coach.

Contract and Goals:

Session 1 is often spent on setting out clear goals. We contract for our work together and define it with as much specificity as possible.

We also go over 360 feedback or multi-rater documents they have. We discuss prior psychometric tool reports.  I ask for performance feedback received from bosses, mentors, boards, and their management.

Sessions 1& 2
are to understand more about their personal background and experiences that have shaped who they are . I ask about other personal life-transforming experiences that inform their identity. My fundamental premise is that the ‘Self of the Leader is where they lead from’.  Decoding the self most leaders find rewarding and revealing too. It is a personal unlock journey that both informs and strengthens at the same time. 

Uncovering patterns & Joining the dots.

We all have patterns that we repeat.

Together we attempt to understand ‘ Why do I do what I do’. This may be the behaviors in conflict or sometimes in the domain of emotions.  It may be in the areas of communication and problem-solving. The world of psychology has much to offer in this space.  My attempt is to support my coachees in understanding their backstory. Uncovering their limiting beliefs and the value base from which they operate is very valuable for any leader.

These sessions have several a-ha moments.  Leaders unravel and begin joining the dots in their personal and professional journeys. This is also the time to articulate a coachee’s strengths and unique gifts. As coach I  wish to build on strengths and get coachees to see their ‘
unique sauce’  if I may call it that.

The sessions: Awareness creates choice

In each leadership coaching conversation we focus on the presenting challenge the leader brings. The challenge is often connected to the contracted goals. Sometimes it is beyond our stated goals as that is the burning question the leader is dealing with and yet the question may have been hidden for long.

Sessions of leadership coaching programs focus on opening up the issue. Awareness of their inner process helps leaders see what is happening. Understanding their emotional stance and uncovering limiting beliefs is illuminating. This leads to leaders thinking of new possibilities. 

These sessions of leadership coaching are full of ideas and options.  There are moments of consolidation as leaders make new choices. They decide how to show up to their teams, stakeholders, and clients. By now they have begun to see the impact of coaching in the results they are creating. There is usually an intense commitment from leaders to walk to their learning edge.

Midway review:

Calibrating our performance and reassessing the further journey is an important step. 

This allows us to exchange assessments about changes made. We redefine the way forward. Sometimes new goals show up too. Sometimes new contracts are made. Bolder ambitious goals get reset. And the work continues for another set of sessions we decide on. 

Post session assignments:

All leadership coaching sessions have insights for sure. But insights are not enough. These need to move to action. This is what transformative coaching is about. Not only does the Observer of the leader shift but so also their actions.

Leaders have small assignments to do aka Homework :). The nature of these actions could be:

  • New practices with their teams.
  • New conversations and offers to stakeholders.
  • A set of reflective questions to answer.
  • Reading.
  • A pause practice to begin.


I often end up sharing some of my blogs or a relevant chapter from my book Step Up.  I have book recommendations to make to them. At times I introduce a somatic practice in these leadership coaching which they are invited to do each day.

Closing Coaching

I only close a contract with coachees, never a relationship. My journey of 16 years as a coach has shown me once a coach, always a coach 🙂

  • We assess how far the coachee has arrived vis a vis their goals.
  • We speak about their learning edge and continued work.
  • At times they need to see a specific domain coach to yolk their work ahead and I make those connections for them. 
  • We discuss abundance mantras and ideas that support their learning, resilience, and expansion.

Coachees stay in touch one way or the other. It is often such leaders who invite me to work with their teams or recommend a peer for coaching. 

And I get to do what I truly care about- support leaders in reaching where they want to.

Sailaja Manacha

Sailaja Manacha

Sailaja Manacha, a Master certified Coach from ICF, is known for her programs and coaching methods that combine psychology with leadership practices. In her work, Sailaja draws from Psychology, Ontology, NLP and Spiritual frameworks as well as rich, real-world experiences.

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