Why Leadership Coaching Doesn’t Always Help

I’m a leadership coach.

I enjoy coming around other leaders and finding ways to help them, to challenge them, to encourage them, and to help them reach a goal or execute a plan.

The problem is that sometimes given all of my efforts, I’m not helping!

In trying to figure out why, I’ve identified a couple of things that influence the effectiveness of coaching from both the leaders perspective, and from the coaches perspective.

Here’s what I’m learning:


#1) I’m Too Busy

“I’m trying to squeeze coaching into an already packed schedule, and it’s more of a burden than a help. If I could just clean out my email first, then I’d be ready.” The reality is that you’ll never have time for coaching unless you make the time. You’ll miss the value and it’s a waste of energy if you can’t find some margin.

#2) I’m Not Very Patient

“I want the coaching, but I want a quick fix. Coaching should create immediate results… right?” The value of coaching come from building a relationships, identifying specific goals and tasks, and working towards those things. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it takes time.

#3) I’m Not Very Specific

“Each time I engage with my coach, we just sit and talk. It’s good, but nothing ever comes from it.” We need to have specific goals in mind when we bring in a coach. Identify something that you want to focus on, and stay there until you accomplish it.

#4) I Know More Than My Coach

“My coach can’t really help me because I know more than they know about the issues we’re talking through.” I would challenge you to keep your ego out of the relationship, and learn to listen. You’ll be surprised by what you can learn if you will just listen and stop talking. In some cases, a coach may not bring a lot of extra value, but I have ALWAYS found that I’m surprised by what my coach is able to teach and challenge me in.


#1) My Leader Won’t Focus

“I’m trying to drive a conversation, but the leader is distracted and not focused.” As a coach, you need to realize the pressure and the load the leader is carrying. Find out what’s going on today and what they’re state of mind is. If they’re under pressure or operating under high stress, it’s not a good time for you to coach. They need instant help and results, and they’ll be distracted by their list of things to do. Find out how they’re doing before you dive into your conversation, and be willing to adjust based on their state.

#2)  My Leader Won’t Do What I Suggest

“I give great advice and help, but they don’t do anything about it.” Coaching isn’t simply telling someone what to do… it’s walking with them through the process. Find ways that you can help and that you can be a part of the solution, instead of just giving them advice. Go deeper.

#3) My Leader Won’t Open Up and Be Honest

“I’m trying to build a relationship, but there are walls up. It’s as if they don’t trust me.” The leader you’re working with has been burned before. They’ve been promised something, they’ve been told something that hasn’t happened, and they’ve been let down. Focus on the relationship first. Take the time to get to know each other and build trust together. Take some baby steps and find some success early on. This will lay a foundation of trust and will lead to increased vulnerability. Also, as a coach, you need to be vulnerable as well.

#4) My Leader Needs More Than I Can Give

“The help my leader needs is something I know nothing about. What do I do?” Begin by admitting that, then commit to helping to either learn more, or find someone that can help them. A coach is “in it with them”. So discover together. You’ll learn something new. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know everything. They already know you don’t know everything. When you work together, you’ll build an incredible bond.


Lastly, here are some reminders that are critical to every coaching engagement:

Meet Regularly: Identify a set time and place and prepare for it.

Communicate Goals and Expectations: Make this your first conversation and then revisit it often.

Build Relationship First: Get to know each other. The coaching you want or need might come in a way you didn’t expect.

Define an End Point: Coaching shouldn’t be open-ended. Establish an end, then continue under new rules if you want to.

Follow Through: Do what you commit to doing… both of you!


A Coaching Relationship has the potential to be one of the most impactful relationships in your life and your leadership. Don’t fall into the traps or mistakes I mentioned above.


Posted in Leadership Coaching, Leadership Community, Organizational Development, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , ,



You’ve heard me encourage leaders every chance I get to learn to STOP.

This is a difficult lesson because we have gotten so used to running full speed ahead that we’ve forgotten how to slow down, how to wind down, how to STOP.

This past week, I realized that I was hitting the wall a little bit. I was tired physically, I was emotionally drained and I had been unable to manage some things that should have been easy to handle. I was showing some signs of distress. For me, these signs are:

– Increased Frustration (everything was bothering me)

– Increased Distraction (I was doing everything BUT what I was supposed to be doing)

– Increased Eating (when I feel stress, I don’t eat well)

– Increased Separation (I pull away from people when I’m overwhelmed)

Now, I’ve been learning to manage myself for a long time, so these warning signs didn’t create panic or despair. Instead, they forced me to figure out what was going on.

So, here I am on Monday Morning, and I’m “unwinding” some things over the next 4 days so I can address what the source of all of this anxiety is all about.

Here’s how I do it:

1) I Cleared My Schedule: I simply looked at the next 4 days and stepped away from as much as I could. I can’t control everything, so there are some appointments, calls and tasks I have to do, I stepped away from as much as I possibly could.

2) I Communicated My Schedule: I let my wife know and my co-workers know that I’m stepping back for a few days. I want them to be supportive and know that I’m doing some internal work.

3) I Changed My Perspective: Today, I woke up ready to do the work. It started with a great time at the gym, time in the Word, time clearing off my desk, and creating a plan for the next 4 days to get me where I need to go.  I’m excited about the journey this week.

4) I’m Avoiding Distractions: It’s so easy to get bogged down in things that keep me from where I need to go. I’m saying NO to some things this week in order to say YES to what I need to be doing.

The goal: RENEWAL.

I need to find the joy again, I need to put things into perspective, and I need to be proactive instead of reactive.

This is an ongoing cycle. When we live at the pace that we live in, we have to figure out how to manage ourselves instead of just piling things on over and over again. We have to figure out what our “replenishment cycle” is, and work hard to refuel and refocus.

There will be some motorcycle time in my near future, as well as a good dose of exercise and nutrition. There will be some intentional relationship time with my wife that will hopefully include a walk on the beach, and there will be some silence and stillness. It’s amazing how healing some simple things become when we STOP.

If you need some help STOPPING, why don’t you join me for the next 4 days!

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , ,

Grow Your Influence

I just participated in a week-long leadership event where we spent the week talking about the power of our influence and we defined what this looks like and we spent time applying it to each of our contexts.

For anyone in leadership, the idea of INFLUENCE is something that drives what we do and it affects every decision we make.

I found an article by Marcel Schwantes at www.inc.com, and he shares 5 simple ways to grow this aspect of your influence. You can read the full article HERE.  I’ll highlight the 5 steps for you.


Covey talks about the fact that a team with high trust will produce results faster and at a lower cost.  The foundation for everything related to your leadership has to be built on trust.


An unhealthy ego can be a liability on the performance of the business.


Competence builds confidence in your people.


When people are liberated and empowered to collaborate, great things happen.


Your corporate culture has to be grounded in giving employees ownership, authenticity and a community.

Read the full article as Schwantes goes into depth in each of these steps.

I simply want to encourage you to evaluate your influence. Just find some margin and ask yourself these questions:

*Who am I influencing and how? (identify at least 5 people and write down all the ways you share influence)

*Who am I missing and why? (identify some people who should be on the list above, and figure out why they’re not. Develop a plan to move them closer.)

*What can I do to grow my influence? (are there areas in your life that need attention? What can you do about them?)

*How have I been influenced? (identify the greatest influencers in your life and articulate what it is about them that has impacted you the most)

I’ll continue on this journey.

What about you?

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Leadership Community, Organizational Development, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , ,

Learning to Leverage


I’ve been working for the past few weeks on a presentation around “Leverage in your Leadership”. While reading some great books and articles, I found some really good tips to share with leaders about how to leverage our leadership into greater impact.

However, as I was researching and preparing, I realize that it’s one thing to “leverage your leadership”, and it’s another thing to “learn how to leverage your leadership”.

Here are a couple of things I think all of us can do that will help us find greater leverage:


Leverage doesn’t just happen. We have to work at it. We have to dream about it. We have to set some goals around it. We have to plan for it.  The reality is that most of us don’t have the margin of time needed to be more intentional. We’re running as hard as we can, and we are dropping some of the spinning plates as we try to keep things moving.  We will never be able to get the full impact of leverage unless we are more intentional. For the past few weeks we’ve talked about time and distractions. What’s keeping you from being intentional?


Leverage is good. But what does that really mean? We need to quantify leverage by defining what it really looks like. Often we set goals or think about greater strategy without ever clarifying what this might look like. Recently I read a great book entitled, “Social Impacts” (©2014 by Marc J. Epstein & Kristi Yuthas). The book challenged me to really think about the metrics around what I’m trying to do.

An example might be:  “I want to host a leadership coaching event for 15 leaders, helping them learn, grow and apply some leadership principles.”

A more specific way to say this might be:  “I want to host a leadership coaching event for 15 leaders, helping them learn, grow and apply some leadership principles into their organizations, and seeing each leader share the principles learned with 2 leaders inside their organization within 15 days of the event”.

This is something that can be measured and immediately there’s a higher value placed on the activity.


Leverage isn’t just about “more people, more impact”. Think of ways to increase leverage that might require some different creative energy.

From the example above:  “While teaching leadership principles to a group of leaders, I want to provide them with some tools to use not only in their organizations, but personally with their families. I want their families to be strengthened while they become better leaders.”

Sometimes we get excited when things happen that we didn’t expect. I want to encourage you to think outside the box about what can be leveraged, what can be impacted. Don’t settle for the easy multiplication model of 1 X 3 = Greater Impact!  Be creative in the process.

Leverage can be defined as:  “The power to influence a person or situation to achieve a particular outcome”

We all need to learn how to do this better!


Posted in Leadership Coaching, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , ,

Distraction Management

I was recently reading a book by T.J. Addington entitled “Deep Influence” (Navpress ©2014).  There are a number of themes in this book that I resonate with, but once again, the idea of distractions jumped off the pages as this is something I constantly work to manage.

Addington talks about this as he talks about leading with intentionality. Lot’s of great ideas and tips, and I encourage you to read the book.

I want to detour and focus on this idea of “Distraction Management”.

Here I am, looking at the screen, trying to write this blog post, and I’m checking my email, I’m waiting for a phone call, and I’m moving 3 different piles of paper on my desk all at the same time. I’m not managing my distraction very well, and the reality is, if I focused on one task, I would complete it faster, then I could move on to the next, but sometimes I get so caught up in trying to multi-task that I get to the end of the day, and I leave 5 or 6 projects undone because I got distracted and didn’t get it down.

While I haven’t perfected the art of “Distraction Management”, I have learned some things. I’ve shared them with you from time to time, but if you’re like me, you’re quick to forget… because you get distracted!

Here are some things that help me with this:


I try to schedule the week ahead of me, making appointments with myself to focus on specific tasks and blocking time to work on priority projects. Don’t feel bad about doing this. You’re simply choosing to do what’s most important and communicating to people that you’re “booked” or that you “have an appointment”.


When I try to check my messages, track the weather, send texts to my kids and listen to a conversation at the same time, I miss out on something! Engage fully wherever you are. You’ll take more away and people will feel more valued by you.

#3) SAY NO!

You don’t have to do everything. Figure out what is most important, and if you can control your time and decisions, learn to say no. You can’t do everything.


Figure out where you work best. Some people like to work in a coffee shop or in a noisy place. Others need complete silence or a comfortable place. Figure out what works best for you and get there when it’s time to do your most important work. For me, I am most productive when I’m in my office, at my desk, with all the resources I have around me as the OfficePro shipping labels so I can keep everything organized. I know I work better, faster and I’m less distracted in this “happy place” I’ve created, far from the distractions that tempt me to do something else. Where do you work best?


I find that if I take regular breaks, I can work longer. I need to move, I need to refocus, I need to respond to urgent messages. Sometimes just taking a 10-minute walk around the block re-energizes me for another 90 minutes.  Take a break when you can. I’ve found that many short breaks work best for me and keeps me fresh.

Learn to manage the distractions in your life, your work and your space!

For more on TIME, CLICK HERE

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Managing My To-Do-List

It happens to the best of us:

*We start the week by creating of list of things we need to do.

*Our goal is to “get through the list”, but the longer we focus on the list, the more items we remember to add to the list.

*We end up spending more time creating and managing our list then actually addressing the items that need to be done.

*The LIST controls us!

Janet Choi shares that “41% of t0-d0-items are never completed” (I Done This Blog)

By the end of the week, we’re checking things off, deleting things, and determining that some of these things should have been on the list in the first place!

But, the following week, we’re back at it, building our to-do-list again!

So, here are some simple tips to making your To-Do-List work:

#1) Determine if working off of a list helps your or if it distracts you.

Some people are list people. Some aren’t. If you’re obsessing about your list, or if you are trying to manage multiple lists, then it’s becoming a distraction. You need to figure out a better way to track actionable items.

#2) Keep the list SIMPLE

Don’t detail every aspect of what needs to be done, but keep the list simple. You might want to ask yourself the question, “What’s Important Now?” and only address things that are for NOW.

#3) Assign TIME to every item on the list

Don’t put anything on your list unless you have set a time in your schedule to address it. This is simple “block scheduling”. This is the only way you’ll be able to accomplish the things on your list. Over time, you’ll get better at estimating the amount of time needed to complete the task.

#4) Read through your list 3-times

As you look quickly at your list, you’ll be able to determine if all of the things on the list are under your control, if they are your responsibility, and if they’re a priority. Check the list quickly, and keep weeding off the things that creep in there that don’t need to be there.


There are hundreds of different apps and tools to help you manage your list. Don’t spend too much time and money figuring out the best “method”. Instead, figure out how to be the most effective you can be.

I simply use the Reminders app on my phone, pad and computer, that I also use to play video games with a AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 that I got online. I always have my most current list, and if feels good to get things completed. Don’t get lost in the technology.

For more on time: CLICK HERE

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

COMMUNITY: What Keeps us From Developing It?

We’re talking about the value of COMMUNITY but some of you don’t have this, so you’re missing out!

I go through seasons in life of experiencing great friendships, and I go through seasons of loneliness. The reality is that most people will never know when I’m engaged and when I’m feeling lonely because I’ve learned to hide it. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s worth the work!

Here’s the reality: We sabotage our community from time to time, and sometimes we allow it to simply go away!

Why would we sabotage our community?

  1. We Need Some Space: The reality is the Community can be overwhelming at times. We might just need some space, so we step back from time to time.
  2. We’ve Been Hurt: When your Community or someone in your Community breaks your trust or disappoints you, we want to run.
  3. We’re Bored: All Communities and relationships get in a rut. If we aren’t actively bring “life” to them, then there’s a risk of us falling into monotony.
  4. We’re Hiding Something: When we’re not healthy, the last place we want to be is with a bunch of people who care about you. We want to isolate. Stress, Sin, Burnout all weigh into this. Figure out why you want to run!

It’s one thing to sabotage our community. Some of us never get that close for these reasons:

  1. We’re Too  Busy: We don’t have time for people or to invest in relationships.
  2. We’re Focused On Work: Sometimes we allow our world to revolve around work. When that happens, outside influences don’t carry much value.
  3. We’re Never Home: We’re running, we’re traveling, we’re focused on ourselves. We’re just not present!
  4. We Don’t Think We Need People: We’re self-sufficient and self-reliant. We don’t need other people in our lives.
  5. We Don’t Know How: We really don’t know how to develop and how to maintain healthy relationships so we avoid it.

I don’t know if you resonate with any of these things above.

All I know is that it takes work to develop and maintain the relationships of a healthy personal community.

Don’t get stuck in the bad habit of being critical and of isolating yourself from others.

We truly do NEED one another!

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , ,

COMMUNITY: 2 Are Better Than One

I was performing a wedding a couple of weeks ago, and I shared this verse with the newly married couple. It comes from Ecclesiastes and this is The Message translation, chapter 4 verses 9 – 12:

“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the word, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough!

Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night.

By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round-up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”

This is a great passage to share with a newly married couple as it really is an encouragement to them that there’s strength and power in this union of 2 people.

I’ve been thinking about these verses as it relates to COMMUNITY.

We weren’t created to live a lone, isolated life. We were created to live in community with others. The ideas from the verse  “when one falls, the other helps” or “with a friend, you can face the worst” are powerful images of the importance of other people in our lives and in our COMMUNITY.

Who’s in your COMMUNITY?

Do you have people in your world that…

*You’re doing daily & regular life with?

*You’re depending on and who are depending on you?

*You’re working with to accomplish great things together?

*You’re counting on to pick you up with you fall? And you’re picking them up?


If you have a hard time defining your community, do these things:

•Make a list of the qualities of people you desire. Sometimes when you have the “wrong” people around you, it actually hurts you.

•Make a list of people in your life that fit these qualities.

•Be intentional with them. Ask them if they would be willing to walk and journey with you. Define what that might look like. (How often you communicate, how often you connect in person)

•Don’t focus on what others can do for you. Figure out how you can reciprocate and contribute in a positive way to their lives as well.

•Work at it. Building real community takes effort and maintaining this community takes real work. Do the work!

Start by defining one, then work towards a couple.

The passage from Ecclesiastes ends by saying, “can you round-up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”

There’s strength in surrounding your life with people who are part of your COMMUNITY. Don’t take this for granted. Make it a crucial part of your life.


Posted in Leadership Coaching, Leadership Community, Personal Leadership Tagged with: , , , ,

Sometimes You Just Have To STOP

This past week I was reminded of an important lesson…

Here it is:  “It’s OK to STOP sometimes!”

That’s it.

While driving home from a meeting, I was listening to my favorite radio station is Los Angeles that played classic rock music (yes, I graduated from High School in the early 80’s).

They had shared earlier that the station had been sold after 10 years of playing great hits, and the new owners were developing a new format and a new target audience.

Now, I listen to this station while in my car, while in my office, and sometimes in the gym. I just like local radio and I like to be reminded of some great music from the past that I might have forgotten about.

Back to driving… I’m driving down the freeway, and at 1:00pm sharp, the DJ came on the air and simply said, “Goodbye”. Then the station went quiet.

I was a little shocked because it had finally happened, and I was a little sad.  I drove in silence for about 60 seconds, then the new station came on the air, and I could tell immediately that it was reaching for a new audience.

Don’t worry, I’ve found another station to listen to that isn’t exactly the same, but it’s close.

As I’ve thought about that experience, I’m reminded that “sometimes, you just have to STOP.”

We spend a lot of time, energy and money doing things that we just shouldn’t be doing anymore!

I’ve been running for the past year. Lot’s of miles, lot’s of exciting conversations, training events, relationships and opportunities, I even got a trainer from Optimized Fitness training to help me with this. It’s been a great year, but it’s also been a full year.

If a radio station can simply decide to STOP, either by choice or because of someone else’s decision, maybe I need to look at some things in my life that I need to stop doing.

So, I’m taking a small inventory this week:

*What am I doing that I shouldn’t be doing?

*What have I said YES to, that I should have said NO to? Is it to late to change that decision?

*How do I create healthy margins in my schedule and in my life?

*What mistakes to I keep making over and over again that drives the chaos in my life and work?

*As I think about a New Year coming, what can I do today that will help me in the year to come?

Remember, I’m in this for the long haul. I want to be effective, I want to be able to contribute, I want to continue pursuing the call and the passion God has put in my life for years and years to come.

Sometimes when you don’t STOP things, you can’t START things that you should be doing.

What about you?

What do you need to STOP today?

Here are some other TIPS on managing your personal life. CLICK HERE

Posted in Personal Leadership

Building An Effective Team

I googled “how to build an effective team” today. I got about 62 million results, and after looking at the top 5, I quit my search. Everyone has ideas on how to build an effective team, and many of them will work, so if you have a lot of time, I encourage you to google and then read like crazy!

In this post, I decided to simply share a couple of things that I’ve found that have made all the difference in teams I’ve been a part of and in teams that I’ve led.

Here are my 3 ideas on how to build an effective team:

#1) Determine if you NEED a team

Sometimes we’re not ready to lead a team. We think that a team will solve all of our problems, however if we’re not ready to build a team, to invest in that team and to maintain that team, it’s often better to NOT have a team. You can work by yourself, you can work at your pace, and you’ve got nobody to manage! Sounds good, right?

However, you’re missing out on the benefits of having a team: collaboration, team momentum, energy, and I could go on and on. There are many benefits, but I want to warn you… if you’re the leader, having a team will require you to put a chunk of your attention there.

Be sure you’re ready for that because it’s not fair to bring people in to join you if you’re not willing and able to actually lead them and the team.

#2) Bring in the RIGHT people

I’ve heard people say over and over again, “I need help!”. Sometimes, in saying that we don’t really care what kind of help it is, we’re just looking for help.

I want to tell you: It’s better to NOT have someone, than to have the WRONG someone.

If you’ve decided to build a team, figure out what kind of people you need and do the work of finding the right people. Go after people, check their references, ask lots of questions, don’t get in a hurry… do your due diligence!

When you’ve found the RIGHT person, a team brings incredible value. If you have a team of the WRONG people, it will destroy your energy, your passion and your vision.

#3) INVEST in that team

It’s not enough to build a team. As a leader, you need to invest into that team, and this means to invest time. Build relationships with them, get to know them, share your stories, do fun things together, cast vision, challenge each other, celebrate each other, help each other, serve each other.

The more you invest in your team, the more effective they’ll become. It’s the best investment you can make and your organization will reap the benefits.

Years ago, I served with a team that was functioning really well. There was clarity around our vision and our focus, there was energy and we really enjoyed working and being with each other. It was a really fun season of life and work. I often think back to this season of life and I have really good memories of not only what we accomplished, but HOW we accomplished it.   The team was effective. I didn’t say perfect, I said effective.

You can lead an effective team, and you can be a part of an effective team.


A great book on finding the right people? Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The Ideal Team Player”.

Posted in Leadership Coaching, Organizational Development Tagged with: , , , ,


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