My posts are always inspired by someone or something. This one was originally inspired by the pastor of our church, John Slye, in the context of spiritual growth. Over the past year, I’ve been ‘preaching’ a very similar message in a very different context: helping leaders of a large global company grow into coaches. The parallels are astounding.

Pastor John spoke to “powering down” – to climbing down our moral ladder to connect with God and with others. To grow spiritually, he said, we need to move from judging others to trying to relate to them; from telling people what they need to do to listening; from talking about the people we take issue with to talking to them. We need to move from thinking that we are (or have) the answer to believing that the ‘lost’ are more capable of finding their way than they think they are. We need to look for blind spots in ourselves, listen more openly, and respond from our hearts vs. our heads.

What do you think? Isn’t this a pretty amazing picture of leadership? Some of you will disagree with me…but I think so. Consider for a moment your best leader ever. What did they do that made them stand out as such a great leader?

Over the past six months, I’ve been I asking this question to large groups of corporate leaders. Regardless of their level in the company, the answers always center on humility, trust, deep listening, and believing in one’s potential.

In my experience, great leaders are those who don’t need to “power up” – they have no need to be superior; they know the difference between using good judgment and being judgmental; they talk to their people, not about them; they use their own challenges and experiences to relate to others; and they believe in their staff’s capacity to learn and to grow. By laying aside their power and meeting others’ where they are, they gain deep respect. And from this foundation of respect, they have a completely new and quite powerful set of tools available to them: this is where coaching begins.

In my next few posts, I’m going to cover the basics of coaching. But here’s the deal: you can’t coach from up on high. You have to climb down the ladder of your ego. You have to climb down from all the things that make you feel superior (expertise, answers, advice, judgments, blind spots, etc., etc.) and instead give others what they really value: humility, trust, deep listening, and belief in their potential.

Impatient to learn more? Email me to find out how we’re bringing this to leaders around the world.