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True leaders understand that their role is to serve others.

That sounds like a contradiction, right? When we think of the typical boss/employee model, it’s very clear which direction serving should go.

You’re the boss, and others aren’t. So they should serve you.

The reality is that this isn’t sustainable.

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We usually talk about selling products to customers. We deliver something of value, they give us money in return, and everyone’s happy.

But it’s not ever that simple, because we’re human. The exchange of value is actually pretty complicated, and doesn’t happen all at once.

That’s why I’ve been using the phrase “being of service.” Because it hints at the deeper human connection which is taking place.

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Results. RESULTS! People don’t buy coaching, they buy results! I get that. But it’s not the whole story. Yes, clients are spending their valuable time and money because they want to solve a problem. Whether it’s relationships, careers, leadership, business issues … that’s what compels someone to hire a coach. It’s also what usually drives the goal they’re working toward.

It’s all pretty straightforward. But I have this nagging voice in the back of my head: Why is that not what captures the client’s heart? It’s not an irrelevant question.

When I talk with my past clients, or clients of other coaches, I often hear much different testimonials:

  • “It opened my eyes to what’s really going on.”
  • “It brought me hope that I thought was lost.”
  • “It set me on a direction in my career that I couldn’t have imagined.”
  • “It transformed my entire team.”

This is why I’m a coach: to deeply improve someone’s life.

Yes, I work on issues and roadblocks and solutions with my clients. I tend to be a more analytic type person, so seeing tangible results is very motivating for me. Intentions lead to actions which lead to results.

That’s wonderful. Everyone wants to work through problems and achieve even greater things.

But still, that’s not where it ends.

While a coach is helping her client build a stronger relationship with a spouse, they’re generating self-awareness, exploring possibilities, and strengthening hope. They’re even creating a new dream for a better future.

I might be working with a business owner who’s mired in details and a dysfunctional organization. So we’ll work on that, of course. But there’s a deeper transformation taking place, of the heart, culture, and character – of my client and everyone they’re working with.

I’m not saying that having our clients address their issues is unimportant. It absolutely is. But we shouldn’t be satisfied with just doing that, because it won’t do very much to fix the truly important problems our world is dealing with.

And that’s where this really gets exciting!

Society’s largest issues are addressed through people. Someone steps up to the challenge, tries a solution, and moves forward with intention. That brings in someone else who adds their own ideas and resources, creating whole new possibilities.

Where does it start? With an individual conversation, perhaps even the one you’re having with your client tomorrow. She might just start those ripples in the pond; there’s no way of knowing. But your conversation tomorrow just might make the difference.

Possibilities spread by one heart connecting with another. It’s not just information transfer. Yes, that might happen – but it’s more about people connecting their hearts through empathy, compassion and enthusiasm. That’s exactly what coaching excels at.

You’ll never know how far your influence spreads, but that really isn’t why we do this. We believe in the power of the right kind of conversation.

Your coaching can transform and revolutionize the world. One conversation at a time.

This article was first published in Choice Magazine. Subscribe at

What’s in it for me?

That’s a phrase which is particularly popular in sales, to help marketing and sales people to focus on the customer rather than themselves. WIIFM.

But do you want to be a self-focused person and leader?

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KobysGRETCHEN HOLLAND HAS A DREAM.  And it’s not really about recovering a favorite childhood treat from growing up in Maryland eating snowballs.

It’s really about helping kids with disabilities to have real work over the summer, to do great work and serve customers.

And if you can achieve that while delivering something refreshing on a hot day, how fantastic!

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