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Leadership That Works - Core Principles

By Martha Lasley, Virginia Kellogg,
Richard Michaels & Sharon Brown

Coaching for Transformation
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The foundation of holistic coaching is built on our beliefs about human beings and the coaching process. These beliefs form the core of effective communication, impacting the relationships we build, the level of trust that develops and the client’s willingness to share vulnerably. Our beliefs permeate our body language, energy and the signals we send while coaching. When we internally integrate these beliefs, or core principles, we can create even more powerful relationships based on all that is possible. 

  1. People are whole, and simultaneously moving toward a fuller experience of their wholeness.
  2. People are inherently resourceful and wise.
  3. Honoring the full diversity of experience expands awareness.
  4. People have the freedom to choose how they respond.
  5. Much more is possible than any of us can imagine.

The core principles help us create the container for powerful and transformational coaching relationships. We can share the core principles with clients because these powerful foundational beliefs about life can build authentic connection.

WHOLENESS: People are whole, and simultaneously moving toward a fuller experience of their wholeness.

Consider the power of being in relationship from a place of wholeness, honoring all that is present, while holding the space for all that is yet to be born. The pathology worldview focuses on what’s wrong or needs improvement, creating comparisons and images of brokenness. Seeing people as whole shifts the paradigm to one of reverence and respect, setting the foundation for a powerful, resourceful partnership.


Mai was told she was too shy and soft-spoken to be a strong leader. Her coach worked with her to understand what positive intent drives her behavior. Mai realized she didn’t have to be loud and out-going to lead well; she just needed more confidence. She developed her unique ability to develop people and foster effective leadership in the organization.

DIVERSITY: Honoring the full diversity of experience deepens awareness.

When we support people to embrace the fullness of their life, including their cultural experience, we help them honor and integrate all parts of themselves. This leads to deeper awareness as they notice what’s important across the spectrum of their inner and outer world. The more aspects of ourselves that we acknowledge and accept, the more accepting we are of diversity in the external world.


Ashanti wanted to change her profession. She dreamt of healing the trauma of internalized oppression. She was torn between her passion for making a difference and her fear of losing the security of her stable job. Her coach helped her savor both parts of herself fully. In that space she created an action plan, based on embracing two important values—contribution and security.

RESOURCEFULNESS: People are inherently resourceful and wise.

Trusting that our clients are wise and resourceful allows us to remain curious and hold space for what is emerging. We support them in tapping into a deep well of resourcefulness that connects them with new insights, creativity and action.


Johan has a long-term belief that he’s “not good with people.” His coach asks him to keep a journal of all the times that he is “good with people,” and he begins to discover that he listens fully, supports his friends and helps colleagues grow.

FREEDOM: People have the freedom to choose how they respond.

When we remember that clients have the freedom to choose their response to circumstances in their lives, we free ourselves from judgment and from taking responsibility for them. We acknowledge their life experiences, honor their choices and create a space where powerful, respectful connection and cultural humility exist between us.


Liv frequently used words like, “I must, I should, I have to…” so her coach asked her to

rephrase her sentences starting with, “I choose to…”

POSSIBILITY: Much more is possible than any of us can imagine.

The beauty and mystery of the transformative process is that neither the coach nor the client can imagine all that’s possible. The journey has no fixed destination, but holds great promise and rich rewards. As coaches, when we remain open and curious, we have greater access to our right brain, our intuition and extraordinary solutions. Far more is possible than any of us realize.


Rose said, “With the glass ceiling here, I have no options,” so her coach asked her to brainstorm all the options that seemed impossible. Quickly she realized that items on her “impossible” list actually were possible and she began to see new options for action.

Excerpt from the book Coaching for Transformation: Pathways to Ignite Personal & Social Change by Martha Lasley, Virginia Kellogg, Richard Michaels and Sharon Brown. As faculty at Leadership that Works, they certify coaches who offer personal, organization and community transformation. Check out the free Power of Coaching teleclass.

Coaching is life-changing, world-changing work. The coaching programs at Leadership that Works go beyond theories and models and work with clients on a deeper level. You learn how to coach the whole person: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Whole person Transformation.

Leadership that Works

Transforming the world.
One heart at a time.

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