The Journey Blog

Reflections on the art of leading

Would A Relational Coach Be Better for You?

If you are seeking a coach to help you grow and change as a leader, what kind of coach are you looking for? Would you choose someone with significant experience in your field, who has an insider perspective, or someone with a different skill set, from outside your industry and context?

Most would probably say, “someone in my field” and I would agree with you, in part.

If you are looking for help with a specific growth hurdle in your company, or a specific industry challenge, someone with prior experience in your industry could be a great help, and would have much to offer you. Such a person intimately knows the language and the world in which you live, and that would be a tremendous asset. If what you need is advice, then yes, a business consultant is what you are seeking.

But a coach is a different sort of person, with a different stance.

A coach is someone who helps you put your strengths to even better use, but who can also help you see your blind spots and develop in the areas where you are challenged—not simply reinforce or leave unchallenged the ways you're already doing your work...and life.

That is why when a person has been promoted to new responsibilities it's often said, "What got you here, won't get you where you need to go"...and that is why a coach can be such a powerful ally in the process of growth and change. A coach's stance is from the outside, but altogether in your corner.

Most entrepreneurs in both the private and social sectors are wired for results—they have a strong task and outcomes focus, which is usually the very reason they start things up, go into business, and love the sphere of enterprise. Often this means that their area of greatest challenge is not in results, but in relationships.

A great choice for a results oriented person is a coach who is relationally wired—someone who has had to be disciplined and live with quantitative metrics, but who can discern and is fluent in relational skills, and emotional intelligence .

Whether you are a results-oriented business person, or entrepreneurial ministry practitioner, such a coach could help you open up a great new season as a leader.

Research consistently shows that the qualities that make for enduring organizations reside in the relational skill set: the ability to lead collaboratively, to delight in and bring out the best in a team, to foster mutual respect and trust, humility, and the ability to inspire loyalty. Most of all, is the ability to genuinely value the life and work of others—to convey that they are cared for. Happy is the workplace with a "boss" like this—and such organizations get great results, too.

Great companies like Whole Foods and Apple continue to grow, and grow, and succeed because they are great places to work. The data show that pretty much everyone loves to work there, loves what they do, feels it has meaning, (and so do they), and they are tapping into the things that most motivate them in life.

So what kind of coach would best serve you in the process of growing and developing into a stronger leader?

As a footnote: in How the Mighty Fall, analysis by Jim Collins' research group tracks the reasons big name companies struggle and fail. Collins identifies the first step on the way to failure as hubris born of success. That's hubris born of success. Critique and honest, penetrating analysis is ignored or explained away because it doesn't fit the (leaders') narrative. It's arrogance, and arrogance will spread through the culture of an organization like a snake's venom. It is most instructive that the problems failing companies have in common begin with and are tied to a set of relational issues.