Fake News/Fake Coaching


By now, everyone seems to be aware that we have been duped by various fake news stories.  The victimization of individuals and corporations can be damaging even when the story has been proven false.  According to the New York Times in an article entitled, “How Fake News Goes Viral-A Case Study”, “While some fake news is produced purposefully by teenagers in the Balkans or entrepreneurs in the United States seeking to make money from advertising, false information can also arise from misinformed social media posts by regular people that are seized on and spread through a hyper partisan blogosphere”.

Unfortunately, the truth is not always easy to discern and we can easily misinformed about any service or profession.   As a certified professional coach, I am particularly frustrated by the number of individuals who simply create the persona of being a professional coach with literally no credentials.    This is easy to do and I refer to it as “fake coaching”.  Anyone can attach the label of “coach” to themselves, develop a polished marketing campaign and “voile”, they’re in business.   It is for this reason that I would like to support the entire coaching profession in making a distinction for what a professionally trained and certified coach is.  Here are a few tips to guide you in recognizing what is “fake” and what is “real” in the coaching profession:

  • Be clear about what your needs are… so that you can determine if you need a professional coach, a mentor or a consultant. If you need advice about business operations, structure or skill training, a consultant is best. Mentorship is about knowledge-sharing usually from one peer to another.
  • Know what a certified professional coach does…they do not advise, mentor or tell clients what’s wrong with them or their business. A coach listens and asks powerful questions so that the client can own their decisions and determine their path forward.  The coach serves as a personal champion completely present in service to the client.
  • Review the credentials of any coach you are considering before you make the decision to hire them. The International Federation of Coaching (ICF) serves as a credentialing agent for the profession of coaching.  Professional coaches become a member of this organization only if they have completed coach training through a company that has been accredited by the IFC. The list of accredited coach training programs can be reviewed on this site, so at a minimum, ask about the training credentials for anyone who claims to be a professional coach.  Professional coaches must have at least 120 hours of training, supervised assessment, and pass both a written and oral exam.  Beware of anyone who has attended a two-day leadership coaching program, even if it is a reputable name brand.  These types of programs are not accredited through the ICF.  For additional information, go to coachfederation.org.

If you have an interest in finding out more about coaching, please contact me at vanleitconsulting@gmail.com.




Humility Inside Out


What does it take for us to look deep within?

One way I’ve discovered is to ask these questions.  What do you think you have to own in order to be OK?  What do you think you need to look like to others for you to feel OK about yourself? What do you consider most valuable in life?

Sometimes it takes a face to face contact with another person’s reality to help answer those questions.  I recently joined my husband in delivering meals to vulnerable seniors, many of whom are in their eighties and nineties.

Frankly, I was shocked by the poor living conditions, repelled by the unwashed stench, the forgotten trash and dirty clothing, the over-all neglect in evidence around some.  Yet each one at some point in their lives contributed to our world in some way.  Perhaps it was through parenting, a career, being a volunteer, or just being a friendly neighbor.

After contemplating all this, I was deeply struck by the utter and complete dependence on others that their generally enfeebled condition required.  Each one of us will probably face that same level of dependence at some point in our life.

One of the most important – perhaps the most important — leadership characteristic one can learn is that each one of us is dependent on others.  We live in an inter-dependent world, especially in the workplace.  Taking that realization deep inside is critical to our growth as people and as leaders.  Living this insight will have longstanding personal benefits.  Taking that same realization of interdependence to your job as a humble leader serving others benefits your entire organization.

Choose Joy!

Have you experienced a time in your career when going to work was painful?  Are you in the midst of rapid change, or missional ambiguity, or feel like you have entered the “land of unknown?”  If you haven’t been to these places, your employees may have — maybe even right now!  So what can you do to change these painful trajectories?

Positive change – of course – begins with leadership.  Leaders are the only ones who can calm the fears of the workforce.  As a leader, you can learn to cultivate opportunities for yourself and others to exercise positive personal choice.  We all have the capacity to choose.

So why not CHOOSE JOY!  Here are a few of my own tips:

  1. Remember, the workplace does not exist to serve you, but rather is an opportunity to look outward and serve others. Of course, we work to survive and provide for our families, but there has to be more.  My source of strength is my faith in Christ and remaining true to the values that I hold as sacred.  If my focus is on a bigger paycheck and fancier title so I can buy more “stuff,” I quickly transmogrify into a negative, self-centered person. I end up only interested in my “stuff.”   So what do I do when get a bit bored or don’t find my work interesting?

While I stay focused on doing the best I can in my current role, I also start looking, listening, dreaming and planning to identify the needs of others around me.  This might lead me to put together a proposal for services I can provide and then start marketing that to the team.  Other times, I’ve asked to attend a meeting and end up pitching the idea or providing a resource for the team that they didn’t even ask for.  Before I know it, I’ve filled a previously unidentified void and the team is contacting me for collaboration on other projects.  This is where I get really excited – joy overload!

  1. I routinely invest in relationships inside and outside my work group. I’m not talking about “using” people.  Rather, I’m talking about showing a genuine interest in others and with an emphasis on exchanging knowledge.  I’ve intentionally sought relationships outside of every department I’ve worked in.  These relationships have almost always led to great learning experiences.   Remember, you must be intentional about this.
  1. Look for opportunities to learn and prepare for the next adventure right in the midst of all the ambiguity and rapid change in the workplace. It’s hard to find joy when you are in the midst of a difficult work situation, a difficult boss or an unfamiliar process.  Even here – especially here — look at the situation as a learning opportunity.  It is very possible to CHOOSE JOY and so cheerfully navigate through the difficulty.  My rule: I allow myself to have one pity party day a month.  It gets pretty lonely if I stay there longer!
  1. Be willing – through self-awareness – to choose humility. Be willing to admit that you have both strengths and weaknesses.  At times, I’ve placed myself in situations outside of my comfort zone and really bombed, but in doing so I discovered my strengths!  That is where I find the greatest joy.
  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. As Cy Wakeman states, “eliminate the BMW’s in your life.  (Bellyaching, Moaning and Whining).”  Those attitudes will cause others to tune you out, and label you in a negative way.  There go your opportunities for future growth!
  • Rather, focus on what you do best. Forget about comparing yourself to others.   We spend far too much time wanting what we think someone else has.  You are unique and have qualities that no one else has.  Some people have strong leadership skills.  Some are naturally influential. Others are excellent at executing, or innovating, or thinking or problem solving.  These qualities are all essential, but it is doubtful that we could find one person who has them all.  So, find what excites you the most, what you feel most passionate about.  That is where you will excel.
  • Please don’t judge others based on your own standards! Give people a break.  Sometimes, it’s not an issue of right or wrong.  It might just be that others do things a bit differently but still get the job done.
  • It’s easy to believe that you can be a positive influence on the BMW’s, but more often, you will get pulled into their drama. Limit your exposure to those that complain.
  1. Forgive the mistakes of others and focus on how you can recognize their strengths. Create a new vision of someone who you feel has disappointed you so you can learn to see them differently!  Focus on that new image.  Attach their name to it.  A new perspective can bring forgiveness and understanding to a whole new level!

Leadership Spin

Have you noticed how often people try to influence you these days?  Every day we find ourselves bobbing on a virtual ocean of social media, email, pop-up ads and a host of spun news sources. Everyone is manipulating us to get what they want.  It’s easy to feel like a pawn in the midst of this media storm.

So what does this have to do with leadership?   Everything!  Leaders who unconsciously choose to use this same methodology to lead others find themselves dead in the water, and here’s why.

All humans want to feel valued and to be shown respect in their relationships with others.  A leader that buys into spinning the truth to avoid difficult messages sacrifices their own credibility in the end.

I recently saw “leadership spin” in action within an organization.  A staff member who was terminated five years earlier made the news at his new job when he was arrested for sexual assault.  The media picked up the story and it soon took on a life of its own.  Speculation became rife and fingers pointed in the organization’s direction.

Unfortunately, there was no leader in our organization willing to simply say the truth.  Instead, a “spin doctor” firm was hired to “investigate” and then present the findings to their employees. When the media storm and the accompanying investigation was over, many employees were left questioning their leaders’ ability to speak the truth.  Members felt confused and betrayed: apparently their leaders believed that they could not be trusted with the truth!

Leaders have many opportunities to make mistakes and sometimes the message is messy.  But a courageous leader cultivates vulnerability, shares the truth and apologizes for mistakes. This is the place that allows real human connection and its most essential cement, trust, to flourish.



Are You Leading or Following?

What’s the latest trend in leadership?  We are often bombarded with messages that “this” is how to or “that” is how to lead and be successful.  Then, before you know it, the next trend swings the pendulum to an opposite direction.  So what methodology is best?

There’s nothing wrong with looking at the latest trend, but here’s the problem.  If we can study our way to becoming great leaders, why isn’t everyone who reads Good to Great known as a great leader?

Methodology is only a small part of the art of leadership. The secret to being a great leader is found when one is willing to be vulnerable enough to explore oneself.  Before applying any methodology we must know in intimate detail the beliefs and values that guide us.  Self-discovery takes time, but it is so worth it! When we see clearly who we are and how we want to show up as a leader, we Identify our own uniqueness.  This is profoundly empowering.  Now we lead from the place of faithfulness to our own values rather than following the latest leadership trend.

If you find yourself following rather than leading, the best way to move forward is to engage a professional coach.  He or she can guide you through the discovery process.