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Becoming a Coaching Leader

Compiled by Chuck Olson

Becoming A Coaching LeaderTitle: Becoming a Coaching Leader: The Proven System for Building Your Own Team of Champions

Author: Daniel Harkavy

Copyright: 2007

Having complied an impressive track record, executive coach Danie Harkavy, founder and CEO of Building Champions, has multiplied his influence by outlining his coaching strategy in Becoming a Coaching Leader: The Proven System for Building Your Own Team of Champions. In this book, you will be handed a proven coaching construct. Additionally, you will receive a fresh supply of motivation for the importance of coaching those within your circle of influence. These BookNotes give an inside look to the insights that around found within the pages of this resourceful book.


Book Description:

There is one skill that separates a leader from all others.  Do you have it?

As a leader, the most significant role you can play is that of coach.

As a coach to some of the country’s highest-profile executives, Daniel Harkavy has witnessed the transformation―both professional and personal―that comes when leaders utilize coaching to turn their paycheck-driven teams into vibrant and successful growth cultures. Since founding his company in 1996, Harkavy and his team have coached thousands and shared their knowledge by certifying Coaching Leaders across the country. Now he is sharing his proven strategy with you.

Why become a Coaching Leader? Coaching makes developing people a high-payoff activity. It allows you to equip tomorrow’s leaders today. And it gives you the ability to improve performance while raising the quality of life inside and outside of the office. Your legacy as a leader will begin when you take your first steps toward becoming a Coaching Leader.

Book Quotes: 

Your purpose as a coaching leader is to add the most value to the people you lead and to help them improve. LOCATION: 147

The job you have right now has the potential to supply you with all the purpose you need to feel fulfilled and satisfied in your role as leader—you just need to change the way you think about your job. Based on my work with thousands of leaders over the past two decades, I believe it comes down to this: The key is to see yourself as more than a mere manager. Begin to perceive your role as that of a career and life improver for the people you lead! When you take on that challenge, you’ll find your job overflowing with purpose. LOCATION: 153

Do you want to become an even more effective leader than you already are? Effective leadership is all about taking followers on a journey that enables them to experience and accomplish more as a result of the coaching and vision you bring to them. Truly great leaders walk alongside their followers and help them to become more on this journey. That’s what these leaders see as their main purpose: to help their people develop professionally, personally, relationally and even spiritually. LOCATION: 164

A commitment to people development is what separates good leaders from great leaders. LOCATION: 181

All leaders, both good and great, fall into one of five camps when it comes to people development. Into which group do you think you fall?

  1. The “Self-Made” Leader. The self-made leader buys into the philosophy that each individual is responsible for his or her own professional and personal development.
  2. The “Perk-and-Pray” Leader. The perk-and-pray leader invests in occasional training and by doing so thinks she is hitting the mark.
  3. The “Mentor” Leader. This leader has climbed through the ranks and has mastered the various positions now occupied by those who report to him.
  4. The “Outsourcing” Leader. This leader partners with an industry-specific training firm and contracts them to train her teammates on specific skill sets.
  5. The “Coaching” Leader. This leader has embraced the idea of building a “coaching culture” and follows a proactive coaching plan for his direct reports. LOCATION: 221

In many ways, great leaders are just like great race cars. They need high-performance fuel to keep them charging around the track. They can have all the high-tech gadgets and brilliant systems and superb “pit crews” available, but unless they fill their tank with the right fuel, they’re not going anywhere. So what fuels great leaders? I believe convictions and courage are the oxygen and octane that power up winning leaders. And any leader who neglects to fill up on the right stuff winds up, almost by default, in the local pinewood derby. LOCATION: 384

If you understand the current workforce landscape, however, and have decided to coach them—if you have the conviction to help people improve and the courage to enter into their world—then you’ll become a student in many of these areas so that you can offer helpful, empathetic advice. Your people will know they don’t have to hide their problems from you. They won’t live in fear that you’ll terminate them if you discover their struggle. And even if you don’t have the competency to help them effectively, as a coach you know someone who can help them, and you will immediately send them there for relief. LOCATION: 428

When we risk diving into our people’s lives with the kind of convictions and courage that can truly help them, we partner with them in a way that enables them (and us) to make better life decisions. By choosing to become a coaching leader, you tell your people that you really care about them. You show them that they are important, that they are valuable, and that they matter to you. You show them that you care about them not just for what they can produce; you care about them as people. LOCATION: 432

Heart is the difference maker in great leaders. You cannot be a great coach without heart. If you don’t genuinely care about people—if you are coldly tactical and distantly technical and efficiently process oriented and you leave your heart out of it—then your people will follow you only part of the way. They need to believe that by following you, they will go places they would not even see without you at the helm. Heart is the home to both convictions and courage; it is the fuel of all exceptional leaders. Your beliefs about your people and their potential inevitably impact your success or failure as a leader. LOCATION: 438

In my years of coaching, I have observed that extraordinary leaders all have one trait in common: deep convictions about helping others to improve. This is their heartbeat. They have mastered the skills and disciplines needed to help others reach peak levels of performance. This is one of their primary areas of focus. LOCATION: 477

One of the greatest benefits of being a coaching leader is that it forces me to improve my own disciplines and actions. Leadership requires us to maintain higher standards. The old saying “More is caught than taught” is true. Every day, it seems, we read headlines filled with examples of leaders who have not grasped this truth. LOCATION: 526

A coach helps others win by helping them to discover the knowledge, strategies, Action Plans, inspiration, and accountability they need to excel and to reach even greater levels of success. LOCATION: 611

A good coaching leader:

  • is always moving and improving,
  • sees who his people can become,
  • is an improver,
  • helps his players move from point A to point B,
  • never accepts the status quo,
  • is succinct, and truthful,
  • identifies gaps and gifts,
  • inspires, and
  • sees the big picture and clarifies the steps necessary for success. LOCATION: 623

The mission of a coaching leader is to meet his teammates where they are in order to move them forward by helping them to improve the skills, disciplines, and knowledge they need to succeed. He does this by helping his teammates to clearly see the right action steps to take, and then by holding them accountable as they complete each step. LOCATION: 630

As a coach, I help my clients to…

  1. Make sure they have defined their reality, to stop, think, and truly assess their current situation.
  2. Clarify their vision and define their goals; most people constantly react to events, people, and things…and therefore are not driven by purpose.
  3. Understand and address roadblocks to their vision; we are most blinded to the things that are most comfortable or familiar to us.
  4. Test their thinking, opinions, and conclusions; we easily get caught up in insanity, “doing the same things over and over, but expecting different results.”
  5. Establish accountability; too often people fall short by confusing intent with action. LOCATION: 641

So what is a coach? A coach helps others to assess their situation and then improve their skills, disciplines, and knowledge so that they can make the necessary big picture changes (usually head and heart changes). LOCATION: 678

In my experience, the best coaching leaders have mastered eight core competencies.

  • Core Competency #1: Discernment


Discernment refers to the ability to see what is not visible, to understand what is not being said. LOCATION: 693

What Goleman calls emotional intelligence, I call discernment. People with high IQs and low EQs really struggle in life because, relationally, they don’t know how to respond to others, which is what life is really all about. On the other hand, people with much lower IQs, but with high EQs, can become some of the most successful people in the world. Why? Because they understand themselves, and they understand the hearts of others. LOCATION: 732

Sit down with each of your direct reports and find out what really motivates them. Ask them to describe their three-year, five-year, and ten-year goals. Ask them about when they were kids, what they wanted to be when they grew up. Ask them what they would change in their current life if they were given five million dollars. Ask them about what causes them professional fear. Get to know them. Get to know the inside of your people. LOCATION: 746

Of the eight core competencies, discernment is the most difficult for task-oriented, project-oriented, execution-driven leaders to acquire. And yet no coach can enjoy much success without working to improve his or her discernment. LOCATION: 758

  • Core Competency #2: Conviction-Driven


The more clarity you bring to your convictions, the easier you will find both living and leading. Leaders with clear convictions find it easier to make decisions. Convictions increase confidence and improve decision-making ability. LOCATION: 764

Each of my convictions acts as a kind of sieve, one layered on top of the other. When a life or business opportunity comes my way, that opportunity has to make its way through all my convictions. And once everything filters its way down, out will come a very clear, easy decision. My convictions enable me to make quicker, more consistent decisions, every day. LOCATION: 766

  • Core Competency #3: Accountability


Certain behaviors need to be repeated or changed over time, and accountability enables a coach to provide the necessary follow-up and encouragement. LOCATION: 786

  • Core Competency #4: Uses Systems Effectively


A coach uses systems for accountability, for note taking, for follow-up, for encouragement, for intimacy. Good systems can make a coach’s job very simple. No coach has to retain all the necessary information, so long as he or she has developed some good systems. LOCATION: 795

  • Core Competency #5: Communication


Without a doubt, effective questioning is a core component of effective communication. But so is listening! Having the ability to listen, to question, to envision where the teammate wants or needs to go, and then to communicate that in a linear way—clear, concise, bullet-by-bullet—will enable a coach to get more effective in helping the teammate see what changes may be necessary to break through the challenge or seize the opportunity. LOCATION: 808

  • Core Competency #6: Self-Discipline


  • Core Competency #7: Vision-Oriented


First, a great coach has the ability to see what a team member can become—often long before the team member does…Second, a coach has the ability to help teammates see that vision. LOCATION: 843

  • Core Competency #8: Leadership


Great coaches are leaders. People must be willing to follow you if you are going to coach them. If they don’t want to follow you, then you can’t coach them. LOCATION: 848

There’s good leadership and there’s great leadership. Great leadership is about opportunity and what can be, and all great coaches lead their people boldly and positively into the future. LOCATION: 856

Leaders usually give three reasons why they want to be coached:

  • They want more time.
  • They want more money.
  • They want to improve how they lead.


The Core Four Success Puzzle features four components that follow a never-deviating sequence:

  1. Life Plan
  2. Business Vision
  3. Business Plan
  4. Priority Management


Life planning is all about assessing where you are in life, identifying which accounts are most important to you, and then writing out a vision for each one of those accounts. An effective Life Plan clarifies your purpose in each of those accounts and then identifies three to five strategies that will enable you to increase your net worth in each area. LOCATION: 980

By logging on to this book’s Web site (, you will find a tool designed to help you formulate your own Life Plan. LOCATION: 997

Life planning helps you to identify in writing everything that is important to you, so that you can start making decisions to accumulate net worth in the areas of your life that are most important to you. LOCATION: 1058

The second component of the Core Four Puzzle is Business Vision. It comes down to this: If you can see it, you can build it. LOCATION: 1216

Vision is strategic, not tactical, strategic being much longer in nature. It sheds light on who you will become and what services or products you will create years from now, whereas the tactical is usually now, this year. Vision defines what you stand for, why you exist, and who your team will become. It is the necessary framework for future product offerings and services, and it provides the foundation for all plans. The Business Vision is an essential guidance tool used in countless ways for decision making, storytelling, recruiting, staff retention, team building, performance reviews, and so on. LOCATION: 1272

These days values seem essentially interchangeable; they don’t mean what they used to. Convictions, on the other hand, suggest a much higher level of intensity. If your employer compromised your convictions, you’d quit. Deep convictions guide your worldview and help to shape your decisions, both large and small. Every coaching leader needs to bring strong convictions to his or her team or organization. LOCATION: 1311

The clearer you are on what you and your organization stand for, the easier it will be for you to make good decisions. LOCATION: 1334

Purpose states in a sentence or two why you exist. It defines what you bring to the market, why you’re here. Your purpose statement identifies what you and your team are all about. The following is our purpose statement at Building Champions: We exist to use and build our God-given gifts to make a positive difference in the life of each person we coach, one person at a time. LOCATION: 1351

This summarizes our most basic business-planning process at Building Champions. A useful, simple, straightforward Business Plan identifies the outcomes, disciplines, and improvements needed to achieve the plan’s stated goals. LOCATION: 1698

“Fitting it all in” is a function of Priority Management. And managing your priorities is really all about decision management. In fact, it’s less about managing your calendar than it is about managing your decisions. LOCATION: 1785

So, once more you should see why we start off with the Life Plan, and then move to Business Vision, then work on your Business Plan, and only then end with Priority Management. It just doesn’t work well any other way. LOCATION: 1818

You need to understand a basic premise regarding Priority Management: if you don’t schedule your priorities, everyone and everything else around you will. If you don’t take charge of your schedule, teammates, vendors, solicitors, managers, golf buddies, relatives, and whoever or whatever else will fill your days for you. If you don’t identify your top priorities and schedule your day around them, at the end of the day you’ll always find yourself using leftover space to cram in what you consider important. LOCATION: 1821

If you really want to improve your productivity and help those around you to increase their own, then spend some time thinking about your hourly wage. Understanding what an hour of your time is worth will allow you to delegate and schedule with greater conviction…A champion leader who knows his or her hourly wage can distinguish with absolute clarity between high-payoff and low-payoff activities. This is one discipline that you simply can’t do without. LOCATION: 1872

High-payoff activities are the things you do that bring the greatest value to your organization, team, or customer. They are the three to five activities that lie in your “sweet spot.” You do them with excellence. They are your unique disciplines or distinctive skills, abilities that distinguish you from other team members. LOCATION: 1873

By helping your people to fill their days with what they’re truly best at you can significantly improve team and corporate effectiveness. LOCATION: 1886

Another key to taking control of your calendar is to schedule appointments for non-appointment type activities. Coaching leaders who excel at accomplishing their goals tend to fill their calendars with appointments with themselves. LOCATION: 1960

“Life is a constant struggle for balance,” writes Bobb Biehl. “Balance is a result of one word: schedule. Typically, you determine your own schedule. Therefore, you schedule your own balance or imbalance.” LOCATION: 2012

I found great help in scheduling my own balance by acting on the wisdom of a memorable analogy. If life is very much like a juggling act, as many think, then the key to living well is understanding that some of the balls we juggle are made of crystal, while others are made of rubber. Unexpected crises or opportunities will storm into our lives, forcing us to drop some balls. We can’t do everything! But those who know what’s most important to them also know which balls they can drop. They’ll allow the rubber balls to drop but not the ones made of crystal. LOCATION: 2014

In essence, that’s what Priority Management is all about. It’s about doing the right things at the right time. It’s about moving from reactive to proactive, from unfocused to focused, from unclear to clarity, from living out someone else’s priorities to living out your own, and from being driven by circumstances to being directed by purpose. LOCATION: 2027

Powerful questioning enables you to go from head to heart. Habits change only when convictions change or are clarified. Most people will not change their habits simply because they have the necessary knowledge. They won’t make a change until they have hurt enough, heard enough, or had enough—all heart-level experiences. Powerful questioning enables you to probe a little deeper to help your teammates identify roadblocks, what’s holding them back, or to suggest specific strategies or actions that will enable them to become more professionally and personally successful. LOCATION: 2421

Understanding the heart of a team member takes work. When you become a coaching leader, you take a special interest in understanding what motivates and inspires your team members, as well as what might hold them back. You have no choice but to take the time to ask powerful questions and then to spend more time listening carefully to their answers. LOCATION: 2435

Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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