I've got to say before we start that this subject rarely comes up!
A couple of years ago someone I met on the road asked me just what made me think I was qualified to train leaders. I admit I was tired and was probably a little snarky with my reply:
“My bank account.”
“What do you mean by that?” he asked. “Just because people pay you that means you’re qualified?”
“No,” I said. “My clients pay me good money. If I wasn’t doing a good job for them––they wouldn’t.”
If you want to know my "credentials," the best place to start is with my verified reviews on eSpeakers. They check to make sure these reviews are genuine and not just a marketing ploy. Click here and look for the Reviews tab…
An effective coach Inspires, Empowers and Guides people to their very best. This is also the sole mission of the Sensei. For more than 20 years I helped people expand their potential and accomplish what they once thought impossible.
As Sensei, I worked with some very challenging clients including kids and adults with ADHD, autism and other conditions. I’ve worked with people with physical challenges––as well as victims of PTSD from violent attacks, sexual assault and combat.
I’ve seen these people overcome these challenges to become healthy, happy and productive people––and many of them became Black Belts along the way.
Later I transposed these strategies and disciplines to support and develop leaders, particularly business leaders. That’s what THE SENSEI LEADER is all about––and it is a perfect fit.
Effective leaders are those who above all Inspire, Empower and Guide the people they serve to their very best. I help leaders become the Sensei––in a very real sense.
Above all, my credentials are the testimonials and reviews from my clients. That means much more to me than any certificate––
If you haven’t been actively coaching, teaching and mentoring people then I’d say yes––before you take on the responsibility make sure you get some training.
Having said that––I’ve been doing just that throughout my life and career, particularly for the past thirty. Before I get into all that, here’s the “resume” I share at the beginning of every presentation and workshop––
"I’m a two-time college dropout and former drug addict. Now aren’t you glad you paid all this money to hear me?"
Seriously, I used to think this was a terrible resume for someone training leaders. I came to realize through performance that it is the perfect resume.
All leadership today is situational. You must adapt your leadership to suit different needs, conditions and above all––people.
The best leadership is transformational. The world and certainly the business environment is changing at an ever accelerating pace––and it’s not going to slow down. The most effective leaders are those who can transform themselves and their organizations to meet this pace of change––and the very best are those who can get in front of the pack.
You cannot transform an organization unless you walk the walk––that is you’re continually engaged in the process of transformation yourself.
Who better to teach people about transformation than someone who had to learn the process to survive?
By rights I should have been dead or in jail several times over. I had to learn how to transform myself from a loser to a leader––from an addict and dropout to a Black Belt and later to Sensei.
But lets get back to formal credentials…
I’m aware of most of the major credentials in coaching. Again––if you’re new to the field, I’d highly recommend this track. However, and the best organizations recognize this––you’re not going to become an effective coach by reading a book or attending a weekend seminar.
Thankfully, the best certifications require some kind of internship. As I said, I’ve been doing this for 30 years––and I’ve got the results to prove my methods.
I’m also quite aware of the narrow focus of some of these programs. I understand they’re each trying to promote their own methodology, but many are simply certifying that you understand how to coach under their specific program.
I’m not constrained by any particular dogma. In fact, I’ve adapted my style often over the years––and to this day I still customize my approach for the specific needs, goals and interests of each client.
My focus is in two intrinsically linked areas: Leadership and personal and professional development.
I link the two because the most effective leaders are those who always strive to improve––to learn, grow and develop as leaders and as people.
I’ve studied the best material available in these fields. I’ve never been limited by a recommended reading list. I’ve read hundreds of books and listened to dozens of lectures by the best minds in leadership and personal development.
And I continue my study! I didn’t stop because I earned a diploma!
Lets talk about what it takes to be an effective coach and mentor. It takes experience.
Any reasonably intelligent and articulate person can teach a set curriculum. Can they respond to the ever changing needs and interests of a client operating in a dynamic and every changing environment? Again, have they walked the walk? Can they genuinely empathize with the client’s feelings and respond with real life strategies from drawn from their own experiences?
Some certainly––not all. The certificate or diploma is certainly no guarantee that a coach has the skills and experience you’re looking for. In fact, many of the people who hold these certificates have no experience at all––they simply paid their fee and passed the test!
This lack of real world experience is one of the weaknesses that can pose a real challenge to new coaches, particularly those who come straight through the academic ranks––even those who are now leading researchers and experts.
We must support and develop leaders at all levels––and I’ve been there.
Looking back, I’ve enjoyed some amazing experiences––even if I didn’t fully appreciate them at the time!
I’ve worked construction as a laborer. I’ve pumped gas and washed dishes. I became a pipe fitter and worked on nuclear subs. I was a fire fighter, an emergency medical technician and a janitor!
I was also a television producer, a radio disk jockey and a professional musician. I’ve been a laborer and a supervisor––a manager and a leader, often to people older and more experienced than I was at the time.
Around 1990 I started teaching martial arts professionally and opened my first dojo in 1994. I grew that business to include 5 affiliates. During that time I also served in leadership positions with my area Chamber of Commerce and several volunteer groups including the Scouts. Today I lead a volunteer initiative to train incarcerated youth in leadership skills so they can transform their lives.
Over the past few years I became a successful speaker and author. At a time when most people are getting ready to retire, I decided to launch an entirely new career––and I’ve very glad I did. I now get to travel all over the world supporting and developing the people who will lead us into the future––what an amazing and rewarding adventure.
For fun along the way I was a boxer and a semi-professional soccer and football player––all part of my transformation away from addiction to personal excellence. Then I coached boxing, football and of course––martial arts.
To tie it all together, I learned leadership on the job––by doing it. I learned what it takes to survive and succeed at every level and I had plenty of failures along the way too––and it all became part of the experience I share when I’m training leaders and people who want to be leaders.
Unfortunately, many of the credentialed coaches I encounter lack this real-life experience…
It doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re talking about, but wouldn’t you prefer to work with someone who has walked a few miles in your shoes? Someone who understands what you’re going through––because I’ve been there too?
I’ll be blunt. Unless I come across something truly remarkable, I have no interest in pausing my work. I’m too busy actually coaching and training leaders to stop and earn a certificate!
I’m now working on designing THE SENSEI LEADER certification to recognize leaders and organizations that commit fully to the support, cultivation and development of human-centric leaders.
And believe me, those who earn these credentials will do it through hard work, commitment and proof of performance––just like people who earn the Black Belt.
And that’s one certificate I’m very proud of!