5 Things I learned from Essential Coaching Skills for Leaders with Todd Iarussi


The Social Enterprise Greenhouse hosted a Lunch and Learn session here in the Hub with Todd Iarussi, a Hub member and personal, performance and leadership development consultant. He led the group through an introduction to his method, a live demonstration on a volunteer and a participatory coaching session with the whole group using some of the tools he provided. Here are 5 things I learned from this session, Essential Coaching Skills for Leaders:

  1. Participatory learning can help us gain a better understanding of the tools we use. Learning is a funny thing! Some people learn best by reading, others by doing, for example. But most of us learn well with a combination approach: a little visual, a little auditory. Our styles are not mutually exclusive, and a hands-on presentation like this one lets us get an introduction to the tools from several angles. We heard about the approach, we watched it in action and then we tried it ourselves. Finally, we exchanged feedback on our experiences with the whole group as a way to get even deeper into the experience. One participant shared “It’s like I gave myself permission to feel these things.” Sounds a tad more dynamic than a powerpoint, no?
  2. Listening skills are like a muscle that we can strengthen. We may start from different skillsets on this one. Perhaps we were born to listen, or perhaps we have listening thrust upon us. Either way, if we are to lead others in any way, we need to actually hear what others are saying.  “Being open to where it could go next allowed it to get to a powerful place,” said one participant. In order to get better at listening, or sharing, or being open, we practice.
  3. Building trust is part of leadership. “As a leader it’s important to be really present with people, “ says Todd. This includes noticing your own body language and that of the other person in conversation to get clues as to how it’s going and adjust as we go along. It also means respecting confidentiality when applicable, thinking before we speak and making space for others to share their emotions safely. And through it all, we must trust ourselves, too.
  4. How can we thrive in a culture of questions? Of course, this must be phrased as a question! As leaders, our first reaction to questions may be discomfort. We might prefer to tell. We might prefer to frame our words in another way. But curiosity is an essential coaching skill, and questions are the tool. Modeling curiosity helps to create a culture of inquiry. Todd suggests that we “really invest in curiosity.” Consider how you’d react to someone wondering about you and your possibilities, rather than telling you what to do?
  5. Action steps can help lead us towards accountability, to ourselves or to others. When we start a session with the goal of creating an action step, we help to move it along rather than getting stuck in the processing phase. It’s a negotiation of sorts. “Go back and forth until you arrive at an agreement on action steps.” It’s like a little extra piece that gives us the traction to move forward, a tangible something to remind us of the goals.

To learn more about Todd’s work, check out his website here. SEG also features a monthly free coaching session with Todd, and you can get more information and register for the next one here.


Traci Picard
Venture Development Assistant

Traci Picard is a VISTA serving as Venture Development assistant here at SEG. She comes from the world of alternative health, running a small herbal business and teaching classes like Critical Thinking for Herbalists and Asking Better Questions. Traci is also a writer pursuing a Journalism degree, a mother of 3 and a passionate fan of books and the Public Library. Born in Providence, she has lived all over but continues to return home.

Contact: tpicard@segreenhouse.org