I was ready for a change. After reading the book Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, I listened to a podcast about executing your life plan. During the show, the hosts mentioned a 1-800 number to call if you wanted help with putting together and achieving your life plan. I called the number, and they offered to pair me with a life coach. I loved the book, and creating and executing a life plan resonated with me; so, I jumped in with both feet. I hired a coach and never looked back. It was one of the most impactful decisions I have ever made.
At that time, I was in a season of reflecting on my life and trying to determine the legacy I wanted to leave to God, my wife, my parents, my girls, my co-workers, and my friends. My coach walked with me and challenged me during our times together, helping me develop a life plan. “is plan helped me start with the end of my life and work backwards, assembling an action plan about the legacy I hope to leave. It was an amazing process that I believe would benefit everyone.
During my coaching sessions, we often talked about my work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), focusing on my role of serving international leaders. Six months into our coaching sessions, my coach, Dick Savidge, suggested I become a coach because it could help me lead my Southeast Asia leaders. He said, “You should be a coach. You are not really managing them from this far and you aren’t really leading them. The best way to get the most out of your leaders in Southeast Asia is to lead with The Coach Approach.” As FCA’s Mid-Atlantic Director of International Advancement, I work closely with each country’s National Directors, the highest level leaders within their respective countries who are developing other leaders. Older and more experienced than many of the National Directors, it was tempting to take an approach to leadership that I’d experienced for much of my life: tell them what to do and how to do it. But, because of our different cultures and contexts, utilizing my own ideas and experiences was not the best way to approach their work. Taking the Coach Approach—being curious, employing active listening, and asking powerful questions— became a better way to serve them.
Becoming a life coach turned me into an avid learner. I read more than ten books on coaching and other various articles. I also listened to countless podcasts and engaged in training from Keith Webb and Charles Hooper Jr. at Creative Results Management. Coaching became my passion, so much so that I became a certified coach by the largest governing body of coaches: The International Coaching Federation (ICF).
I have been coaching for many years now, utilizing the skills I learned through ICF certified training. I have often found myself in a coaching session encouraging those I am coaching to take the Coach Approach in leading his or her team. Facing these situations again and again, I decided to write The Coach Approach to help all leaders become stronger and more effective
If you lead in any capacity—as a CEO, school principal, manager, sports coach, pastor, supervisor, influencer—this book is for you. The Coach Approach centers around four key concepts that will assist and accelerate your leadership.
First, I will share the Possibilities that abound as you lead in this new way. Second, I explore the Posture needed to make sure your head and heart are in the right spot. “Third, you will learn a basic Process for coaching others. Fourth, I will help you Pivot to coaching. Finally, I will show you some tools you will need to implement The Coach Approach.
My hope is that you will experience the same kind of life transformation I did when I got into coaching, and that you’ll share this approach with others. It will challenge them, help them grow, and help their teams. I once heard a CFO ask a CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave us?” the CEO replied, “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?” You must invest in your team. Investing in your people equals investing in your organization.
You may be reading this book because you want to make improvements personally or within your organization. I commend you for that. This reminds me of a quote I often heard from Coach Les Steckel, the former president of FCA and a football coach for 45 years, including 7 NFL teams: “We all want progress. It is change we don’t like.” This may make you laugh like it makes me laugh. Of course, I want progress. Of course, I want to improve and get better. Yet, I can also be resistant to change. Change will be the key to progress and leading your team in a new way. Welcome to a better way of leading: The Coach Approach.
Keith Webb, the founder of Creative Results Management, a firm that trains coaches, defines coaching this way:
I love that definition. In this book, we will be taking a deeper dive into each of the concepts listed above, but read that sentence again. Slowly! Digest what is being said. Here’s what jumps out at me.
Listening—Admit it, most of us are poor listeners. For starters, we can be very distracted by our phones. Our phones often lead to thoughts racing through our minds.
I just got a text. How should I respond?
I wonder what they are thinking.
Did I reply to the last text?
I am hungry; what is for lunch?
Why did I wear this outfit? I don’t even like it.
You get the point.
But good coaching depends on good listening. Without listening well, we won’t be able to ask good questions. Good questions come when we pay attention to the challenges being shared. If we are not listening, how can we be curious? How can we be empathetic? How can we come alongside our team? Listening is the beginning of coaching. If we don’t listen well, we don’t begin well.
Asking Questions—If you get anything out of this book, I hope you become great at asking questions. Begin to evaluate not only your own questions, but questions other people are asking too. Listen to what’s asked through one-on-one conversations and in groups. Start observing how people on TV ask and answer questions, or when you go to a speaking engagement and the speaker asks the audience a question. This will begin to sharpen your skills in asking great questions. Not all questions are great questions, though, which we will discuss later. We need to become students of great questions.
Deep thinking—Allow yourself to be curious, allow yourself to be creative, and move outside the box of your personal experiences to explore new ways and new options. The Coach Approach requires deep thinking.
Find their Own Solutions—This is important for you to grasp as a leader. Allowing your people to find their own solutions is a game-changer. It will help them own the solutions and the action steps they need to make a difference. This leads to more responsibility on their part. They will take on the responsibility if they find the solution.
Feeling Empowered—think about a time when your supervisor asked you to give input, maybe they asked you a question looking for a solution. How did you feel? You probably felt like a million bucks. You might have been shocked that your boss, your supervisor, or maybe even your supervisor’s supervisor asked you a question. Feeling empowered is thrilling.
What is The Coach Approach? The Coach Approach is a leadership style that is focused on using coaching principles to guide and manage other people. The Coach Approach is for anyone who is leading others as a staff person, volunteer organization, sports team, or even in a family. These principles will all apply.
A benefit of The Coach Approach is that teammates stay around longer when they feel they are empowered and valued. Empowered people repeat what they’ve experienced, and they go on to lead others in an empowering way. With an open mind and an open heart, let’s dive into The Coach Approach: A Better Way to Lead in Business and Beyond.
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