Provision #746: The ABC’s of Leadership

Laser Provision

Without intending to follow any particular pattern at the time, I started to write about Evocative Leadership on March 21, 2010. That’s 20 months ago! Who knew the topic would prove to be so engaging?! My interest was simple: to apply the lessons we have been learning through Evocative Coaching to the tasks of leadership. That wasn’t hard to do, since great leaders are always coaching leaders. In today’s Provision, I summarize the series before moving on to other topics. Enjoy!

LifeTrek Provision


When I started this series on Evocative Leadership, I did so because I knew I wanted to write a book on coaching leaders. That book is intended to be a sequel, of sorts, to our book on coaching teachers. It will follow the same coaching model but it will apply the process to leaders in schools and other settings. There is a play on words here that launches the book with the following sentence: “This book is about coaching leaders to become coaching leaders.” How we coach leaders influences the kind of leaders they become. If we coach from a “tell-and-sell” stance, then they will lead from that stance. If we coach from a “listen-and-learn” stance, then things will shift in that direction.

Of the two, “listen and learn” is the way to lead. In fact, in the new book we intend to change the acronym for the coaching model itself. Instead of SEID (for Story•Empathy•Inquiry•Design), we will used LEAD (for Listen•Empathize•Appreciate•Design). Those are the attributes that make for effective leadership in the 21st century. Gone are the days of top-down, command-and-control leadership effectiveness. Upon us are the days of collaborative, coach-and-create leadership. Leadership coaches have the opportunity to evoke that style of leadership by modeling that style of coaching, as our book will make clear.

Something happened, however, on the way to that book on coaching leaders: another book was born. On March 21, 2010 • four months before Evocative Coaching had been released • I decided to explore the attributes of coaching leaders using the metaphor of what matters. I started withFocus and Faith before moving on to Results and Relationships. From there, I picked up a few more letters of the alphabet before accepting the self-imposed challenge of writing three things that matter for every letter of the alphabet. By August 2010, I was well on my way, circling back to fill in the gap that I left at the beginning: Feelings Matter.

It was fascinating, even as the writer, to watch the Provisions emerge and evolve. Until the very end, when I was consciously choosing to pick up the letters I had not yet covered, the Provisions would present themselves spontaneously. Something would happen that would trigger an instantaneous recognition: of course Health Matters to leadership! Of course Strengths Matter! Of course Discipline Matters! Even Jesus and Yoda snuck into the equation. Within the overarching framework of covering the entire alphabet there was randomness, spontaneity, and creativity. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did.

Now it’s time to turn the series into a book, which my wife, Megan, has tentatively titled, The ABC’s of Leadership. I like that title because it invites me to place the Provisions in alphabetical order and to edit them accordingly. Putting things in a new order inevitably generates new insights. The final book will not be the same as the original series, and that’s a good thing, but it will be heavily indebted to the work we have done together over the past 20 months. As always, your reader replies proved to invaluable grist for the mill, and for that I cannot thank you enough.

It’s interesting for me to read the reorganized list of Provisions. I immediately find myself wanting to write more. What about Autonomy? What about Empathy, Honesty, and Integrity? What about Inquiry and Mastery? I could easily add one more Provision for every letter. But to everything there is a season, and ’tis the season to end this series. You’ll just have to wait for the book to see how the following Provisions turn out:

703: Actions Matter 684: Needs Matter
700: Attitude Matters 686: Nerve Matters
699: Awareness Matters 685: Nice Matters
710: Beauty Matters 677: Observations Matter
712: Being Matters 679: Oneness Matters
711: Belief Matters 678: Openness Matters
673: Constraints Matter 672: Persistence Matters
675: Creativity Matters 671: Planning Matters
676: Curiosity Matters 670: Priorities Matter
721: Data Matter 734: Quality Matters
722: Desire Matters 735: Qualms Matter
723: Discipline Matters 733: Questions Matter
680: Education Matters 665: Relationships Matter
682: Enlightenment Matters 664: Results Matter
681: Entertainment Matters 666: Rituals Matter
663: Faith Matters 696: Serenity Matters
683: Feelings Matter 697: Strengths Matter
662: Focus Matters 698: Surrender Matters
726: Generosity Matters 692: Tech Matters
724: Graciousness Matters 691: Touch Matters
725: Gratitude Matters 690: Trust Matters
689: Happiness Matters 743: Understanding Matters
688: Health Matters 744: Uniformity Matters
687: Hope Matters 745: Uniqueness Matters
668: Ideas Matter 693: Values Matter
669: Implementation Matters 694: Vision Matters
667: Inspiration Matters 695: Vitality Matters
709: Jesus Matters 706: Wisdom Matters
707: Juice Matters 705: Wit Matters
708: Justice Matters 704: Words Matter
739: Kaizen Matters 736: eXample Matters
742: Kindness Matters 738: eXhaustion Matters
741: Knowledge Matters 737: eXperiments Matter
716: Laughter Matters 727: Yes Matters
713: Learning Matters 729: Yoda Matters
715: Listening Matters 728: Yoga Matters
732: Memory Matters 719: Zapp! Matters
730: Mindfulness Matters 720: Zen Matters
731: Moods Matter 717: Zest Matters

Let me know if you see other opportunities for substituting one word with another. There is a lot of overlap, so I often covered one topic under the umbrella of another (for example, I covered Empathy when I wrote about Understanding, and I covered Honesty and Integrity when I wrote about Trust). Still, if you think I’m missing a crucial word when it comes to leadership, I would like to know your thoughts.

I would also like to know whether you think this should be one book or two. There is a certain appeal to covering the entire alphabet, A to Z, in one book. But that could make for a very long book, and people tell me that two shorter books may be better. Your thoughts, along with those of my publisher, will influence the way this turns out.

Over the next year or two, as I finish these books, I think I will reprise my now five-year-old series on Optimal Wellness. That will give me a chance to revisit the health side of the leadership equation, including new research and thinking from the field. I hope you will join me for the journey.

Coaching Inquiries: What matters most to you when it comes to leadership? Which of these words speak most powerfully to your own heart? How can you take that truth and carry it with you on a daily basis? What would people then say about you as a leader? What’s stopping you from making it so?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Thanks for reminding us that Uniqueness Matters. Too often I have tried to conform myself to the expectations of others, even when that did not fit my personality. I know it’s important to be sensitive to the feelings and needs of others, but your Provision gives me the courage to do that without abandoning my own, distinctive style. Thanks!


I was really pleased to see your announcement about the January training program in evocative coaching. I’ve attended several workshops with you guys and I impressed with your skill, know-how and especially your empathic conscientiousness. Aiming this program at teachers and educational administrators as well as personal coaches and consultants is a perfect combination. Our schools need this! Thanks for bringing it forward.  


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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