How can coaching make you a better leader?

My friend and colleague Gloria Burgess has a great take on going from an average leader to a great leader.




A Fortune 500 company, a small business, a sports team, a cadre of youth volunteers. Whatever the size or focus, every successful organization has one thing in common: great leadership.

But what separates an average leader from a great leader? Is it enough to have years of experience, a degree from a top-notch university, or an impressive title? No: especially not in today’s complex, ever-evolving workplace.

The difference between average and great leaders begins long before they assume the mantle of leadership. In fact, a person can be a great leader even if they do not have a leadership title or position.

How is that possible? Because great leadership begins from within. It begins with who you are. Who you are when no one else is looking. Your core values and how you act on those values is what will distinguish you as a leader—every single time.

Recently, I was coaching a finance executive who was under intense pressure from the CEO to act in a manner that was inconsistent with his integrity. Sam (not his real name) knew in his heart what he should do. But his wife had been out of work for almost a year, and his son had just started his freshman year in college.

Contrary to popular notions about the role of a coach, this was not about fixing Sam. Nor was it about telling him what he should do or how to do it. My role was about supporting Sam to trust himself and to discover his own answers, so that he could act in a way that was authentic for him.

Unlike average leaders, great leaders are attuned to their inner selves—they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness is a powerful attribute, especially when you are also courageous enough to acknowledge what you do not know and work diligently to find the answer! Being attuned to your inner self is an important aspect of leadership, because it allows you to be still, listen to your inner voice, and act with authenticity.

As our coaching relationship progressed, Sam gained a new appreciation for what it means and what it takes to stand firm for his beliefs and values. Although he cared about his boss and wanted to keep their relationship intact, Sam eventually concluded that he must confront his boss and tell him where he stood.

Given the gravity of the situation, Sam recognized that his decision to confront his boss could be a career-limiting move. More importantly, he recognized that yielding to the CEO’s wishes would compromise his character, which would ultimately diminish his relationships with the people he cared about the most—his family. Sam realized that if he were to devalue himself, he would be granting others permission to devalue him, thereby impacting his ability to influence others.

As my friend John Maxwell rightly reminds us, “Leadership is about influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” When we take a stand for what we believe and we act in congruence with our values, not only do we communicate our values, we also demonstrate our character. And we join with other great leaders who demonstrate that leadership is measured by the small acts we commit every single day.

Will you be an average leader or a great leader?

About the Author

Gloria_Burgess_WebLrgGloria Burgess is a Featured Writer for the John Maxwell Team Blog.

She is an inspiring, dynamic speaker who brings a wealth of experience to the platform.

A seasoned business executive, her powerful keynotes and seminars connect with audiences because she brings real-world, in-the-seat experience to corporate events, conferences, and meetings. Gloria speaks at events around the world.

Contact Gloria at

Coach, Trainer, Speaker

I am a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker. I am passionate about Leadership and helping leaders reach their full potential by becoming all they can be.

I am a 30-year Army veteran with vast experience as a logistician. I have commanded small to large units and served on staffs all over the world.

I worked for six years in the defense industry supporting Army organizations.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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