Archives For coaching

Great article from – 3 Timeless Traits Leaders Must Have“. One of those is Coaching Skills. The author, Marcel Schwantes, states:

You want your organization to become high-performing? I have the answer. An overlooked piece of the puzzle is coaching. The bad news, according to one study, is that less than half of organizations surveyed had implemented coaching as a part of their performance management process. For the few that did, you guessed it–high-performing organizations.

A good article from Marcel Schwantes and worth your time to read.

Coaching is so critical in all aspects of our lives – personal and professional. As Coachwell, Inc. states on their website:

Your life is important—every part of it. When you’re doing well, every part of your life goes well, and when you’re not doing well, everything suffers. Coachwell equips you to excel by paying attention to what matters most—your character, your health, your goals, your priorities and the team you’re building around you.

We all need the help and support of others.


Does that sound a bit odd saying to not be nice? Actually, I am not sure yet if it is the best word yet for what I am trying to communicate.

In the nonprofit world especially, but often in business settings, I have found that people avoid saying what others need to hear or that we avoid dealing with difficult subjects as we don’t want to cause waves or disrupt the harmony (supposedly) of the team. What it actually means is that we try to avoid things that are emotionally uncomfortable for us. Get that last point – “for us”? Being nice, usually means not placing ourselves in a place of emotional discomfort – it’s all about us – not the other person.

Being kind on the other hand, is about doing what is best for the other person, even if it is emotionally uncomfortable, because you place their well-being above your own emotional comfort. Sometimes being kind doesn’t feel kind, especially when you are challenging a friend or co-worker to a higher standard that you know they could and should meet. It’s about challenging a family member to a higher standard. It’s about confronting someone you care about who has habits/behaviors that are detrimental to their well-being.

So, stop being nice (concerned about your own emotional comfort) and start being kind (being concerned for the well-being of others). Do what is right today.


Making good decisions is a critical skill for people everyone and especially leaders. Yet, we often have not been trained how to make decisions and we also fail to train other in how to make decisions.

There are many tools out there for you to learn from as well as to train your team. One good resource is the Decision Making Techniques section of

Also, Kouzes and Posner, in their book  A Coach’s Guide To Developing Exemplary Leaders, recommend asking these questions of your team when you are helping them make decisions:

  • How do you see . . . ?
  • What if we . . .?
  • What do you think about . . .?
  • How do you believe we could . . .?
  • Have you ever . . .?

These questions are good starters for conversations about how people make choices about their work.

The key thing to remember is that there is a science to making decisions. It is a skill to be learned and to be taught. It doesn’t just happen. So become a skilled craftsman and an accomplished teacher in the science (and art) of decision-making.

Blessings on you day!

Things Leaders Do

February 28, 2012

Good morning!

According to James Kouzes and Barry Posner, there are five things that leaders do:

They Model the Way – they become exemplars of the behavior they expect of others.

They Inspire a Shared Vision – they envision the preferred future, creating an ideal image of the organization or project.

They Challenge the Process – they look for ways to improve processes and encourage the strength of the team to do it.

They Enable Others to Act – they foster collaboration through the use of excellent interpersonal skills.

They Encourage the Heart – they bring hope, encouragement, support, praise and appreciation.  Leaders are Dealers in Hope!

If you have time, pick up their book The Leadership Challenge or the workbook A Coach’s Guide to Developing Exemplary Leaders.

Now – take a few minutes and ask yourself – how am I doing in each of those five areas?  Be honest with your self and then take definitive steps to begin growing where you need to grow!

Blessings on your day,

Make a Difference This Week

November 29, 2011

Good morning – it is a cold wet morning here in southwest Michigan.

Last night, I had a great experience. We had something that needed to be fixed at our house that was beyond my very limited handyman capabilities, so we asked a young man to come over and fix the problem.  It was a great time of talking with this young man as I fetched things or held things for him as he made the repair. When he was finished, I asked him about paying him and he said he wanted to trade out his work.  What he wanted in exchange was some of my time once a month to be able to ask me questions and to just talk.  I was humbled and then felt very old!

I was also impressed by this young man’s wisdom.  He realized that he could not walk through this life on his own and was seeking several men to input into his life. For years, I have done the same and have recommended the same to others.

The question I have for you, is WHO are YOU investing into right now?  What young man or woman are you influencing?  Are you seeking and building relationships with younger people to help build this next generation of leaders?

While we continually need people investing into our lives, we also need to be very intentional about investing into others as well.

Be intentional this week and make a difference in a young person’s life.


The Way of the Shepherd is an excellent little book on leadership that has profoundly impacted many people including me.  I often use it as a supplemental text in the management and leadership courses I teach and it is often the most impactful part of the course.  Many businesses and schools are now using it as a leadership approach now as a result of those classes.

The first of the seven principles of The Way of the Shepherd is “Know the Condition of Your Flock”. In other words – get to know your people and what is going on in their lives. As I have taught that, I often assumed that people would simply go and get to know their people.  What I have found is that people need “handles” – how do they go about getting to know your people?  Well, here are a few suggestions:

First – if you do assessments of your people, go get copies of their assessments and study them.  Find out their personality types and what that means.  Find out their history in your organization.  Study your people.

Secondly, after you have studied them on paper, set up a time to meet with them.  For this type meeting, if you can, meet somewhere offsite.  Maybe even over a meal.  But make it a neutral site as people seem to be freer in their conversations vs. being in a “work” setting.

Thirdly, just ask a few simple questions.  Following are some simple questions that are very illuminating about people and are more powerful than they first appear:

  • Where did you grow up?
  • Tell me about your family – how many siblings did you have?
  • What was your biggest challenge as a child?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • Right now in your life – what causes you the most frustration?
  • Right now – what makes you smile?

Simple questions, but it is amazing the conversations that they generate and how much you learn about your team.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Mentoring, Coaching, Accountability Partners, personal Advisory Councils / Board, and so on are all ways of intentionally seeking out wise people and inviting them to invest into our lives.  Scripture admonishes us to seek out wise and godly counsel.  I have a Leadership Coach (Pastor Dave Kraft) as well as five men that are on my personal “Advisory Council” and they have all impacted my life deeply.

Mentoring is a powerful means to bring the influence and counsel of others into your life in a deeply meaningful manner.

The online version of Harvard Business Review has a good blog post dealing with some of the “myths” surrounding mentoring entitled Demystifying Mentoring. Following are the Four Myths:

Myth #1: You have to find one perfect mentor: It’s actually quite rare these days that people get through their career with only one mentor. In fact, many people have several advisors they turn to.

Myth #2: Mentoring is a formal long-term relationship: Because the world moves fast and people change jobs and careers more often, a long-term advising relationship may be unrealistic and unnecessary. “Mentoring can be a one-hour mentoring session. We don’t have to escalate it to a six-month or year-long event.

Myth #3: Mentoring is for junior people
Many people assume that they only need a mentor when they are first starting out in their careers. “We used to think it was people at early stages of their career who needed mentoring . . . Now we understand that people at every stage benefit from this kind of assistance . . .”

Myth #4: Mentoring is something more experienced people do out of the goodness of their hearts: “It can be an honor to ask someone to be a mentor,” says Willyerd. But the respect isn’t the only reason people agree to help. Mentoring should be useful to both parties involved. Before seeking out a mentor, think about what you have to offer him.

This is a good article and it goes on to articulate some basic mentoring “Do’s” and “Don’t’s’ as well as giving three case studies.

The key point is that we all need others to grow in all aspects of our lives and we need to be intentional about building that into the daily fabric of our lives.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Proverbs 19:20


Life Plan

March 26, 2010

Today, I have sequestered myself at Life Action’s Lodge that is the base for our Christian leaders ministry. It is a beautiful day & I am looking out over the St. Joseph River.

I am here today working my way through Daniel Harkavy’s “Life Plan” process that he describes in his book, Becoming a Coaching Leader. The down-loadable form is on his site – just click here to download the form.

Wow – what a day is has been already. The Lord has really used this tool to bring great clarity to my life and ministry!

The Life Plan has eight major components or elements that you address:

1. Assess where you are in life today.

2. Awareness of what is important to you. He calls these “accounts”. Examples are Faith, Spouse, Family, Ministry, Career, Health, Your Dreams, etc. You walk through a process of identifying what is truly important in your life.

3. Once you have identified each “account”, you then clarify your vision for that account. In 20 or 30 years, what do you want to be able to look back and say about your family, ministry, career, etc.?

4. Define your purpose for each account – in one sentence define the end result you are looking for.

5. Make your plans – this is where you record specific actions that you will take in order to accomplish your goals.

6. Change your actions and track your success – this is where you begin scheduling and acting on your “action steps” and then tracking your progress and success.

7. Live the journey – this is the weekly review of your Life Plan to ensure you are still on track.

8. Stay on course – this is the accountability portion. God has designed us for community and we need each other. In this case, you need a trusted friend that will truly hold you accountable in these areas of your life.

Right now, I am on Step 6 where I am beginning to actually schedule the actions. I will let you know a little bit about my journey as I develop and implement my Life Plan.

Try this – you will be blessed and much more effective in your life and ministry.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am going to share some things from Daniel Harkavy’s book, Becoming a Coaching Leader. Today’s post centers on what he calls the “Eight Core Competencies of a Coaching Leader”.

Following is his list:

1. Discernment – the ability to see what is not visible, to understand what is not being said. Discernment allows a coach to ask effective questions.

2. Conviction-driven – All good coaches believe a few essential truths, convictions for which they will fight. The more clarity you bring to your convictions, the easier you will find both living and leading.

3. Accountability – You cannot ignore accountability as a coaching leader’s greatest responsibility is to help people achieve what they set out to accomplish.

4. Use systems effectively – An effective use of systems allows you to be more consistent in your follow-up, more effective in your questioning, and more accurate in recalling where you left off from your previous coaching session.

5. Communication – When a good coach finishes communicating with a teammate, that person leaves the conversation knowing what needs to be done. He has clarity and doesn’t feel bewildered.

6. Self-discipline – Self-discipline is all about character. Self-discipline is about consistency in every aspect of life.

7. Vision-oriented – A coach has a vision for the lives of others and has the ability to help them see that vision.

8. Leadership – Great coaches are leaders.

Challenging list is it not? I know I have a lot of work to do in the area of coaching others. Again, I would highly recommend this book to you if you are involved in coaching others.