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Transformational Leadership

Nearly 70 coaches in Northwest Missouri have been reading through, and discussing, Joe Ehrmann’s book InSide Out Coaching.  InSide Out Coaching illustrates the difference between what Joe calls transactional coaches, those coaches who selfishly use their players to find personal fulfillment and validation, and transformational coaches, those coaches who selflessly sacrifice themselves to help their athletes positively transition into mature and responsible men and women.  Using examples from his own personal narrative, Joe demonstrates what it takes for coaches, parents, educators and leaders to transition from transactional lifestyles of self-focused leadership to transformational lifestyles of others-focused leadership.

Throughout our many discussions several of these coaches have observed and verbalized two glaring truths about becoming transformational coaches who coach, and live, from the InSide Out.  These observations may be packaged in coaching terminology, but the principles behind them are applicable across several areas of life including, but not limited to: parenting, coaching, leading and educating. The following observations aren’t expressed this way in the book, but have rather been discovered through a series of discussions these coaches have had in reaction to the book itself.

2 Truths

1. To be transformational we must first be transformed. The entire theme of the book is based on the concept of using the coaching and/or leadership platform to transform the lives of those we lead.  In order for this to happen, however, we must first be transformed, or made new, by the work of Jesus Christ in our own lives.  Scripture tells us that we are to become new people in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) by denying ourselves to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23-25) through faith in the work Jesus has done (Ephesians 2:8-9).  For that reason, these coaches are beginning to see how the contents of each chapter show us our need to be transformed by the work of Jesus so that we can live from the work of Jesus to the glory of God and the benefit of those we lead. These coaches are discovering that it’s impossible to be transformational leaders without first being transformed.

2. Jesus transforms us by his work, not ours. Most of us have the tendency to wrongly assume that we can do better by trying harder.  This mentality might be helpful on the athletic field, but it’s harmful to the transformational process.  The Bible reveals to us that our default human condition is sinfully corrupt and directed toward a transactional lifestyle that dishonors God and harms others (Romans 3:10-12; Romans 1:21-23).  We can’t overcome this condition by doing better or trying harder, but instead this condition is overcome by the power of Jesus in our lives (Romans 3:23-25). Jesus does that by the power of his crucifixion which, by faith, destroys the power of sin and transactional coaching/leadership in our lives.  Jesus also does this by the power of his literal resurrection from the dead which, by faith, gives us victory over and freedom from transactional coaching/leadership by transforming us from the InSide Out to have new power to live for the glory of God and the benefit of others. (Romans 6:11; Galatians 5:24)

A broke down vehicle, for example, will not fix itself by pushing harder on the gas.  Pushing a broken vehicle harder will only cause more damage.  The broke-down vehicle needs a mechanic to remove its old parts and replace them with brand new parts. In the same way, we can’t become transformational simply by trying harder.  We need Jesus in the same way the vehicle needs a mechanic.  We can’t fix ourselves any more than the vehicle can.  We need Jesus to remove the transactional aspects of our leadereship by the power of his death.  We need him to replace them with transformational aspects of leadership by the power of his resurrection. And this work is applied to our lives by faith as we believe that Jesus will change us from the InSide Out from self-centered transactional leaders to others-centered transformational ones. These truths are essential to the transformational process.  In fact, the transformational process is impossible without them.

A Transformational Process

It’s important to remember, however, that becoming a transformational leader is a process, not an event.  It takes a lifetime of daily applying the work of Jesus to your life to lead transformationally with consistency.  You can begin the process by understanding that every road-block to transformational coaching must be removed by faith in the work of Jesus death.  Every virtue needed to become a transformational coach can only be produced by the resurrection power of Jesus at work in our lives.

To begin, ask yourself these questions:  What are my roadblocks to becoming a transformational leader who leads to the benefit of others?  How can these be removed by faith in the power of Jesus death?  What virtues need to be present in my life in order to lead to the benefit of others? How are these virtues produced through faith in the power of Jesus resurrection?   How can I learn to apply the work of Jesus in my life on a more consistent basis?  It is only in the appication of these truths that it is possible to become transformational leader.  Don’t put it off, begin the process today!

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