In an earlier blog post, A Coaching Session with a former World Champ, I introduced the Coach metaphor; one of the 7 Metaphors for Leadership Transformation. The Coach metaphor describes how a coaching staff can collectively help leaders achieve their aspirations. It is not about leaders becoming coaches; it’s about leaders letting themselves be coached by others—consultants, colleagues, even family members.

When you think about coaching in a business context, the image that probably comes to mind is a one-to-one consultation that takes place behind closed doors, detached from the usual work environment. In contrast, our research led me to explore the use of the word within the context of sport and how that somewhat different use applies to leadership transformation.

I like the sports analogy because professional athletes receive coaching from a variety of sources beyond their head coach. This coaching happens in public as well as private settings. There is usually a clear distinction between captain and coach, and the captain cannot be successful without his or her team members. Today I would like to extend those insights through the eyes of Geoff, the CEO of a wealth-management business.


In this video footage, Geoff talks about his new appointment as CEO and the harsh feedback he received from his boss early in his tenure. He goes onto reflect on the lonely nature of a CEO role and how his coaching relationships were fundamental in driving positive change for him and his organization. Coaching can take many different forms, and Geoff re-affirms this notion by also reflecting on his peer coaching relationships with his colleagues.

Although I was a consultant to Geoff, I operated more like a sports coach—he needed help defining the plays that would let him and his team deal with the complex environment they were operating in. I was able to draw on my experiences in similar situations with other leaders to help Geoff play a strong second half.

Concurrently with our one-on-one coaching sessions and his monthly sessions with his boss, Geoff was also engaged in monthly ‘peer’ coaching with a couple of his team members. There is something to be said for the value of such ‘on-the-field’ coaching. It helped Geoff integrate the leadership theory he was learning into his leadership practice. His colleagues were able to point out both what he was doing well and where his blind spots were – in real time.

But the Coach metaphor can be taken further still; beyond the coaching staff are the fans. In sports, fans cheer their team on and offer encouragement, but they also express their displeasure when players underperform. In Geoff’s journey, his wife Henrietta has played this role with passion and enthusiasm. Geoff has told me many times that he would not be where he is today without Henrietta. She has encouraged him to open up to life’s experiences and has helped him be “more open, more relaxed, and less formal.” She has also pushed him to fulfill his potential and challenged him to pursue his professional ambitions with vigor, all the while ensuring that he remains very connected with what is most important in life: his family and friends.

In Geoff’s mind, this coherent and supportive approach to his coaching has been a very important factor in his personal happiness and professional success. Since taking the CEO role, Geoff has transformed his own leadership effectiveness and the performance of his organization. This is evidenced not just by his results, but by the confidence his boss and his team have in him.

So, who is on your coaching staff, and how could you best leverage their support and advice on your leadership journey?

In my next blog, I will explore the notion of peer coaching more deeply, and the positive momentum it can generate on a leader’s journey.

Want to keep reading? Here are some quick links to other blogs you may like;

Enlist a peer coach and accelerate your transformation
A Coaching Session with a former World Champ
Authentic Leadership: The Mask of the Phantom

2 thoughts on “Who is on your coaching staff?

  1. The idea of allowing your peers to coach you is often wrongly assumed to be giving away power but is in my experience the most empowering thing an executive can do for himself and his team

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