Coaching for Leadership

By Jim LaDoux
Coaching for Leadership is a collection of short articles written by various coaches that address specific ways to coach leaders around some form of transformation in their personal  and professional settings. I've highlighted just five themes that surfaced from the book I felt were worthy of further discussion.

1  |  Confirm  a  client's  readiness  for  coaching

The best coachees/clients are self-aware, understand their current reality, and have a clear picture of their preferred future. They exhibit agency/ownership toward making this dream a reality. When I think of the clients I work with, I've started asking clients more often:
  • What do you really, really want - right now?
  • May I challenge your norms, assumptions, and approaches to help you get better results?
  • Do you have the capacity (time, energy, skills, attention) to begin living into this dream now?
  • What would you need to give up, drop, or defer to fulfill this dream?
  • What does "qualifying the client" look like for a coach?
  • Who needs to convince me that they worth taking on a client?

2  |  Focus  on  helping  clients  change  their  behaviors 

I recognize that new norms, habits, and approaches are need to change the trajectory of people's lives. I've started asking clients (or myself) more often:
  • What's working for you?  What should you keep doing?
  • What could you do more frequently, to get better results? 
  • How could you improve your results by multiplying your efforts through others?
  • What are the key success factors that we need to pay attention to?
  • What's your super power?  When and where could you use it more often?
  • How would my coaching change if I only got paid for my results?
  • What does "leading well" look like for the clients I coach?

3  |  List  which  types  of  leadership  coaching  energize  you 

Do I enjoy helping leaders develop their leadership skills and capacities?
Do I enjoy helping leaders set, review, celebrate, and learn from their goals?
Do I enjoy helping leaders develop new habits and routines?
Do I enjoy helping leaders think strategically?  Think outside of the box?
Do I enjoy helping clients lead paid and volunteer teams?
Do I enjoy helping clients change the culture of their workplaces?
Do I enjoy working with clients on a short-term basis or do I prefer long-term relationships?
Do I do my best work helping clients work around their weaknesses or build on their strengths?

4  |  List  who  will  help  you  grow  as  a  coach / leader

This book sparked some new insights for me around the following questions:
  • What do I want to be different in my life?  What's ripe for reinvention?
  • Where do I need greater clarity about my preferred future?
  • In what ways could a coach help me redeploy my time, energies, skills, and other resources?
  • What's life-giving right now for me?  How can I do more of it?
  • What's life-draining right now for me?  How can I eliminate it or do less of it?
  • With whom do I wish to spend more time with in the future?  How can that become a reality?
  • Where in my life would I like to see more gratitude and generosity?
  • What have I been tolerating lately?  What is the lack of action costing me? 
  • When am I at my best with clients?  How can I create more of those moments?
  • How will my coaching help my clients dream?  Design their future?  Delegate more often?  Do what matters?
  • In what ways could I be more intentional with clients about setting norms and expectations?

5  |  Feedback  is  the  foundation  for  future  growth 

This book helped me explore the following questions:
  • What feedback loops do I create in my coaching conversations?
  • What feedback loops do I create for long-term coaching clients?
  • What feedback loops do I need to create to consistently improve my coaching?
  • What should I be asking my clients more often to make sure I'm meeting their needs?
  • Who else can help me evaluate my coaching impact?
  • How can I, as a coach, create an "autopsies without blame" culture when it comes to evaluating people, programs, experiments, etc.?
  • What am I hearing from clients about the ways that their lives and their leadership capacities are improving?  What patterns am I seeing based on their comments?
  • What does my "follow up" process look like for current and past clients?


Good listening skills on the part of the coach, together with the ability to deliver honest feedback, are crucial to keeping the dialogue grounded in reality and fostering transformation. Good questioning is followed by inspired analysis, detailed action planning, and follow-through. Working together leaders, coaches crystallize their conversations in an action plan. As you think about the 5 themes highlighted in this blog, consider the following questions:
  1.  How would you describe leadership?   What does it mean to lead well?
  2.  How can coaches help leaders raise up new leaders, not just more followers?
  3.  How will you help the leaders you coach have greater impact in the future? 
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Tom Pietz - November 14th, 2022 at 8:53pm

How would you describe leadership? I'm a empowering leader. I use the phrase "multiplying ministers".

As a pastor, I try to encourage people with their God given gifts, to test them out. I cheer them on and support them in any way I can. But it's their baby. Whatever they need to get started and feel confident is key. I like working with "low directive" people. They are go getters. They just need permission, cheering on, and someone to accompany them until they are ready to fly.

What does it mean to lead well? To lead well for me, is to "make, mature, and mobilize apostolic disciples for Jesus" (my D.Min. Dissertation. That each leader/church member is living to the fullest what God created them to be.

How can coaches help leaders raise up new leaders, not just more followers? "multiply yourself" equip and empower someone to do what you are/were doing and let them do it their way, not your way. This takes patience, some guidance (depending on diligence and determination and confidence of the one you are raising up). Equip someone to do what you are doing so you can do something else.

How will you help the leaders you coach have greater impact in the future? I will have them begin with the end in mind. What would it look like if you were thriving as a leader? Kickin' tail in doing what you do best? What would it look like building a team of leaders in sync and thriving synergistically together>

Julie Gvillo - March 9th, 2023 at 10:23am

I agree with so much of what you have said, Tom! Empowering people to lead is a key component of good leadership/leading well. :) I love the images invited by your last question! :)

Darren Sutton - March 8th, 2023 at 1:25pm

Confirm a client's readiness for coaching & which coaching energizes you is really causing me to think! I understand 'trigger points' as we've discussed them - 'deal breakers' where you would need to refer a client to someone else. But this is different - assessing what is also best for you as the coach, which admittedly is not something I've been very good at!

In my opinion, leadership is just applying the right skills to help unlock the potential a person or group already has accessible to them.

Helping folks see, and also embrace, their own leadership gifts helps raise new leaders .

Danette - March 8th, 2023 at 9:15pm

I am intentional about employing transformational leadership. If people aren't inspired to grow in some way, what's the point? I don't have to be the key growth agent, but in leading others well, I want to be part of the growth climate on the team.

The book "Followerfirst - Rethinking Leadership in the Church" by Dr. Rusty Ricketson and the writing of Peter Northouse have influenced my thinking about following-leaders and the ability of people who may not naturally lead in one setting to lead effectively in another situation.

I enjoy helping people see what their "superpower" is, though I have not, up to this point, use that term.

Julie Gvillo - March 9th, 2023 at 10:30am

I 100% agree that sometimes people who do not naturally lead in one setting can lead effectively in another. It's always so fun to see that happen, too! Helping people discover their gifts and use them in the appropriate context is such a joy! I think the super power question will indeed be key to facilitating a faster shift to a preferred future, and I look forward to using it frequently!

Julie Gvillo - March 9th, 2023 at 10:17am

Leadership is about equipping others to carry out tasks. I have always firmly believed it was important to be clear with everyone involved what one is doing and why, to engage their input in the process, and to invite them to use their gifts and skills to enhance what is being offered. This kind of equipping all members of a team meant that I could take vacation and continuing ed time without worry and without working myself into a tizzy to be able to do it. People were in place who had the knowledge about how to carry out our collective ministry without my constant oversight. Leading well means, at worst, one could theoretically work one's self out of one's job, but at best, that leaders are being trained to lead using their own gifts and skills in exciting and innovative ways.

Leaders raise up new leaders by inviting the input of those they are leading, helping them discover and understand and internalize the core values and supporting structures, and encouraging experimentation in leadership whenever and wherever possible. On Mission Trips, I led worship each day, Sunday through Thursday. We worshiped in a variety of ways, and the youth were taught about the elements of worship and how they came together on regular occasion in our Christian Education programming. Friday night's final worship was their responsibility. I would answer questions, but I would not give input. They created it completely on their own, and often met to plan it in a separate room, so that what they created was a total surprise to me and to the adult chaperones. Most of the time, it was a delightful experience of worship and community. On the rare occasion when it did not quite hit the mark, it was an educational experience that was covered in grace.

Helping leaders release control, equip team members, and foster a communal sense of support and enthusiasm for raising up leaders will help coachees I work with have greater impact in the future.

Shannon Guse - March 13th, 2023 at 7:14am

Thank you for naming that we should be helping others "release control and equip others." These two concepts go hand-in-hand and involve trusting those you are working with to do the job well. Strong leaders teach their team how to do the job well and create trust and support so all team members can experience success. Walking alongside team members the first time or two or three they try a new task allows for confidence building and a safety net. This will help foster the "communal sense of support" that we all need when working with teams!

Shannon Guse - March 13th, 2023 at 7:09am

How would you describe leadership? What does it mean to lead well? I am a leader who will never ask someone to do something I am not willing to do myself. I tried to lead by example, own my mistakes, and state clear expectations for others. I hope I not only inspire others to lead, but teach them along the way.

How can coaches help leaders raise up new leaders, not just more followers? Coaches help clients realize they already have the answers. Giving clients the confidence to recognize they have what they need inside of them by affirming their gifts will help clients become leaders.

How will you help the leaders you coach have greater impact in the future? I hope that those I coach begin to see how coaching works by asking good questions that are not based in shame and blame, but simply open up possibilities and allow the clients to take small steps forward. Once our clients recognize the pattern that small steps and lead to big changes, they will begin to make an impact in every aspect of their lives!

Becky D'Angelo-Veitch - March 14th, 2023 at 2:57pm

In pondering the question on describing leadership, I immediately think if my friend and Neighbor Jeanne, who described her daughter when she was an elementary age child as, "a leader without any followers". We would laugh at Val's determination and vision as well as her tactics that sometimes lacked the finesse of a true leader! Shame on us, as Val grew into the president of her graduating class! And yet, how many people who are given leadership roles are like elementary aged Val--enamored with the idea of being a leader without grasping the finesse, compromise and listening skills to gain and retain people willing to follow? I love the questions in this post--particularly the ones with a strong future orientation that focus more on the things that undergird our core values and hopes for the future rather than fleeting issues of authority, recognition or power.

I'd love to explore the idea of feedback loops more, particularly in the context of our coaching work.

Kim Ness - March 15th, 2023 at 6:03pm

Good leaders inspire, empower and act. I have worked with leaders who only do one or two of these, but I think all three are critical to leading well. For a leader to see coaching, we would hope they would be open to self discovery, committed to the process and the work and seeking change. As a coach, we have an opportunity to be heard differently. We are not their supervisor so there is no there is no fear of consequences for saying the wrong thing. We are not their client so there is no need to impress. We are not their employee so there is no power imbalance. We acknowledge their expertise in their own lives and they acknowledge our expertise as their coach. This unique relationship can hopefully create a space where leaders who have often had to build up walls or wear masks, can just be themselves. They can share their hopes and fears. They can receive affirmations as well as challenges. And through the coaching process they can discover the kind of leader they really want to be, and take steps to reach that. What a gift.

Stephanie V - March 16th, 2023 at 5:56pm

Leadership is an act towards a common goal. Leaders set the example to their Team can follow through. As a leader, you have to be able to provide the tools to empower clients to become a leader, in this case through coaching, facilitating their development, while they look for ways to grow.

The world have change after COVID and it is important co help develop a new type of leader for the new times we live in. The next leader will see the past, and recognize how to move forward with resources and learning. The coach will accompanying them in the mourning process, but reminding them that change fosters growth.

Nicole - March 30th, 2023 at 8:36am

The questions about feedback loops got me wondering what (if any) feedback loops I have built into my own systems and how often I've seen other leaders implement the same. I think a lot of leaders, myself included, miss this step as we lead, either for fear of negative feedback or from a perceived lack of time, and that doing so hurts both our credibility and effectiveness.

Nicole Newton - April 12th, 2023 at 12:35pm

How can coaches help leaders raise up new leaders, not just more followers?

I think the key to helping coachees raise more leaders is to encourage them to empower those they lead to take on responsibility and leadership - to delegate and support rather than take everything on themselves. I see this over and over as a really hard thing for leaders to do; support and encouragement in that area would both take pressure off of them and empower those they lead to lead as well.

Tony Myles - April 13th, 2023 at 2:28am

Leadership is essentially inspiring and guiding others to work toward a worthy goal. To be a good leader, you need to be able to follow first... otherwise you will lack humility and empathy to communicate well, understand others, adapt, and know how to work with someone's strengths and weaknesses.

If you're a coach, you can help leaders raise up new leaders by teaching them how to coach others, giving their team members the chance to grow and learn, and empowering them to take responsibility for their own development. You can also help them identify potential leaders on their team and come up with plans to help those people develop their own leadership skills. Disciples make disciples who make disciples.

To help the leaders I coach make a bigger impact in the future, I'll focus on helping them understand themselves better, improve their emotional intelligence and communication skills, and keep a growth mindset. I'll work with them to figure out their strengths and weaknesses, and help them create a plan to improve. I'll also help them figure out how to build great teams that work well together and are always looking for new and better ways to do things.

Charity Cuellar - April 16th, 2023 at 3:38pm

How would you describe leadership? What does it mean to lead well?

Leadership is a kind of service in my mind. A leader might provide vision, but comes along side others in work and support as everyone carries out the vision. A lot of my own leadership is listening to others, and making sure they have what they need from me to be successful and empowered to continue to move forward professionally or personally.

How can coaches help leaders raise up new leaders, not just more followers?

Another aspect of leadership is actually managing relationships and expectations. Helping people see their own story inside of a vision helps them take ownership of it. In addition to that, acknowledging that other people have expertise that I do not and yielding to their expertise as a leader is very empowering. It helps them build their own toolboxes of skills they'll need when the time comes for them to flex their muscles in their next opportunity.

How will you help the leaders you coach have greater impact in the future?

I think asking them these questions as well as helping them identify the next leaders in their churches and organizations can help them have meaningful impact. Realizing that the baton of leadership eventually passes is helpful for me and others to keep in mind.

Melonee Tubb - April 19th, 2023 at 3:52pm

How would you describe leadership? What does it mean to lead well?

I describe leadership as acknowledging, developing and using your unique gifts and strengths to build up your community. Leading well means seeing yourself as a part of a whole, understanding your role, and encouraging/giving space for others to find theirs.

How can coaches help leaders raise up new leaders, not just more followers? How will you help the leaders you coach have greater impact in the future?

Coaching is powerful because the model is based on helping leaders identify the power they already have and supporting their quest to become wholly themselves with the result of increasing their positive impact on the world around them. This work in itself is transformative and those impacted by it even indirectly will be inspired to find their own power and not cede it to others.

Matthew May - November 6th, 2023 at 3:59pm

I really like the first item of this post. I like to understand the clients engagement with the topic which is why I love the essential question "What do you want to talk about?" Clients often don't present their biggest concern upfront, so the coach needs to look if they are willing to go deeper. A client is ready to be coached when they are willing to confront the underlying issue which is their primary concern.