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John Blakey

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Challenging Coaching - Going beyond traditional coaching to face the FACTS

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Thomas Leonard had the coaching edge? How do you go from wimpy to edgy?


One of the best reasons for writing a book is that it connects you to people all around the world who care about the same things that you do. For example, following our workshop at the International Coach Federation global conference a coach called Oriana Tickell contacted me via email all the way from Mexico. Oriana had attended our session and it had reminded her of an article she had read by Thomas Leonard titled ‘From Wimpy to Edgy’.

Thomas J. Leonard was an inspiring pioneer in the coaching field in the nineties when he launched countless different coaching initiatives from the USA including co-founding the International Coach Federation back in 1994. Unfortunately, Thomas died an untimely and sudden death in 2003.

I consider this short article by Thomas Leonard to be a wonderful piece of writing and it makes me realise why he was able to have such an impact on the coaching world and it also makes me regret that I never had the opportunity to meet him in person. The full article is now on our web site and can be downloaded here. For those in a hurry here are the headlines:-

  • Every successful coach has the Edge
  • For whatever reason The Edge works
  • The benefit of having The Edge is that clients don’t play games or ‘do a number’ on you.
  • The Edge is a no-nonsense component in the tone of your voice
  • The Edge means having a very sensitive b.s. detector
  • The Edge means having an opinion and sharing it
  • The best coaches have The Edge and yet they don’t have to use it

Thomas Leonard sums up the impact of The Edge on coachees via this charming story about his dog, Fringe:-

‘Indulge me for a second with a story about my dog, Fringe. That’s Fringe at 2 months (he’s a Maltese). He was just about as nervous and scared as a little ball of fluff could be. He wouldn’t/couldn’t walk up the 2 flights of stairs to my condo in Montreal. He couldn’t walk on the sidewalk; he was too scared. He would freeze up if we put him outside on the balcony. He was sweet and scared to death and was like this wind up toy. With a timid heart of gold. But his personality was stunted because of his fears. (No, this is not autobiographical.) So, we brought in a doggie coach for 3 sessions. The moment that dog trainer walked in the room and spoke (with an edge in his voice) to Fringe, Fringe stood up straight and paid attention. And took risks. And paid more attention. And pretty soon was running up and down the stairs ahead of us and barking until we made it up ourselves. He had found his confidence; thanks to the doggie coach. For whatever reason, he woke up. And rose to the occasion. Or, to the new environment created by the doggie coach.’

So if it works so well (even for dogs!) how come it is so difficult to develop The Edge? Thomas Leonard’s own uncompromising answer to this question was that ‘If you cannot afford financially to lose your clients, you WILL be a mouse. Guaranteed. Again, the simple solution is money. Don’t put yourself in a position where paying your mortgage is more important than you being an honest coach to your clients.’

What do you think? What is The Edge? How do you develop it? What gets in the way? Let us know your thoughts via the LinkedIn Challenging Coaching group.

P.S.I think Oriana Tickell has got The Edge and she is standing for the board of the International Coach Federation (ICF) right now. If you are a member of the ICF and want more Edge in the ICF then please vote for her and tell your friends to do so too!

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John Blakey

Challenging Coaching - Going beyond traditional coaching to face the FACTS

Read more from John Blakey

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