Tag Archives: listening

Quick Review: Leadership Coaching

Over the past couple of months I was going through the book Leadership Ccoaching: The Disciplines, Skills, and Heart of a Christian Coach by Tony Stoltzfus and it’s such a great resource for leaders. Here’s some of why it was so helpful to me.

First – it goes after the heart, both in the coach and as the target of transformation in coming alongside others. The approach to coming alongside others puts a high value on honoring people and what God may be doing in the deeper places as the roots of their behavior. It was a refreshing focus and right on.

Second – he offers a helpful framework and paradigm for coaching that I thought allowed me to get a really good handle on the main components of the theory.

Third – maybe this is the best part of the book, but the book includes so many questions to use and they are grouped and categorized in helpful ways. I had not put much thought into categorizing types of coaches for different purposes, but that’s been really helpful for me to think about different groupings of questions according to what they are really trying to accomplish in conversation or in coaching.

If you are not aware of the industry of “coaching,” this is a growing part of the leadership community and business world that is recognizing the power of non-directive coaching. Instead of “telling” someone solutions or answers, a coach helps the other person “discover” or find the solutions themselves mostly through questions. This includes accountability, listening, question asking as mentioned, and discernment.  It’s a really important skill set for any leader and there’s a lot of books that are trying to pass on those skill sets.  This book blends those skill sets with the Christian commitment to heart change as the center of all transformative work.

This book finds a permanent place in my leadership toolbox and I’ve already gone back to it to review certain types of questions relevant to different conversations I’ve been in.

Highly recommend it! I’m convinced that the core principles of this book involve areas of development for just about every person out there so chances are it will really help you even if you’re not functioning as a professional coach.

I Want to Hear You and See What You See

This continues to be one of my favorite expressions of human connection.

“I want to hear you,
see what you see,
feel what you feel
I want to be heard.
Hear me as I hear you,
Listen, I’m listening to you.
So I will speak simply
with clear word windows
that let you see
all the way into where I live
cry.” (pg. 24)

Augsburger’s book Caring Enough to Confront was the third of my “sabbatical book list”. It’s an older book, but I found it to be really good. His style is interesting. There’s a poetic or rhythmic vibe to a lot that he writes even in addition to the many poems that he includes in his writing. The above excerpt stood out to me as a powerful picture of the deep inner desires of someone who wants a moment of conflict or difficulty to become an opportunity for greater intimacy and connection.


Originally posted June 8th 2007

Problem Solving

Dilbert is awesome…Obviously no leader I know blatantly does this, but I think this type of leadership behavior happens under various different rationalizations.  I’ll list a couple below…


I think leaders avoid dealing with problems that need attention through some of the following strategies:

  • Minimize the data or evidence.  We protect ourselves by convincing ourselves that the data must not be that bad or require much change.
  • Minimize the messenger. One of the easiest way to avoid dealing with troubling news is to write off the person who is the bearer of that news.  So messengers of data and evidence (or truth if you prefer) get unfairly labeled as buzz-kills, problem employees, insubordinate, or maybe in a spiritual context they might even get the “rebellious” tag.  A lot of this is subconscious in the actions and thoughts of a leader, but we should all keep in mind this is a sign of fearful and insecure leadership regardless of whether they realize it or not.
  • Avoidance. Don’t open any channels for this type of information.  Don’t measure results.  Don’t deal with anything you’re uncomfortable with – represented through the above cartoon strip.
  • Misdirection. When the bad news comes you pay attention and act like you’re engaged.  When the messengers go away, you push the issues aside and avoid dealing with them.  This is different that avoidance in its inherent deceit or image management.  You make people think you’re going to get tough and deal with the issues head on, but then all anyone experiences from there on from you is silence.  This is a one way ticket to toxic environments as most effort is being channeled to image management rather than real problem solving.

I’ve run into all of these at different points, some are more difficult than others – but I’ve never known anyone who intentionally tried to do any of the above and neither have I though I’m sure I’ve tried to avoid a couple things as well in my day.What are some of the ways you see this “pseudo-problem solving” take place in leadership contexts?  I’m curious what other ways we might be tempted to use to avoid actually leading change.  Share your thoughts!


Another of our guest speakers earlier in the week was Dr. Tim Muehlhoff who happens to be a professor at Biola University. He has a long-standing relationship with Campus Crusade and I believe he was on staff for awhile. He has spoken at our region’s Christmas Conference before as well.

He spoke on the issue of leadership and listening. There were great insights related to cross-gender and cross-cultural listening, but one of the powerful statements he made related to Proverbs 18:13 and leadership.

Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.”

Tim’s statement from this passage was that, “It is shameful for a leader to believe that they don’t need to listen to someone else just because by position you believe you don’t have to.”

I think this in some ways connects to what Mark Gauthier expressed about leadership and power. Leadership culture will NEVER be established as long as leaders fail to listen to those “under their power or domain.” And Proverbs 18:13 indicates that such leadership and expression of power by leaders is to their shame and that such behavior is folly.