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People Often Ask: ICF St. Louis Gift of Coaching Case

Nadine Kouba, ACC | Published on 6/21/2021

People often ask me what coaching can do for them. I’d like to share an example that may help to answer that question. 

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) St. Louis Chapter offered a pro bono coaching program for nonprofit leaders called “Gift of Coaching.” As one of the volunteer coaches, I was given the opportunity to coach three nonprofit leaders. One client was an executive director, one a C-Suite leader, and the third was a director reporting to a senior leadership team member. The issues the three identified to work on in coaching included dealing with conflict, decision making, executive presence, confidence, business savvy and delegation.

As we met, additional challenges emerged. For the executive director, setting measurable performance goals along with how to communicate those goals to the entire board rose to the top. She was being evaluated by the entire board, not just by the board president, and based on her last review, it was clear the board members didn’t know what her established goals were.  Overthinking issues also emerged, as well as time management. She wanted to move more quickly when making decisions. And she wanted to more effectively juggle strategic planning, day-to-day operations, large program management efforts, maintaining clear communication with her staff and conducting meetings with current and potential donors on a regular basis.

For the senior leadership team member, the focus remained on executive presence with concerns about work/life integration arising. For the director-level team member, transitioning into a new role became the focus. She needed to establish a supervisory relationship with her former peers, who were now her direct reports. She also had to establish the approach, policies and procedures for case management in her area.

The Gift of Coaching program provided four one-hour individual coaching sessions for each nonprofit leader. During those coaching sessions, we clarified each leader’s goals, then established an action plan for them to attain the desired goal. 

The executive director decided to create a white board with her main goals identified. She also created a white board for her major project plans. She made everything visible to herself as well as to her staff. With her goals and project timelines always visible, she was able to stay focused, organized and prioritized. 

The C-Suite leader focused on specific areas that she could strengthen and demonstrate in her behavior with her executive director, peers, direct reports and donors. She also created a plan to help her better manage her activities both at work and personally to enable better work/life integration.

The director determined an action plan that would establish regular one-on-one meetings with each of her staff members as well as regular staff meetings. She created a plan where she could establish goals and performance standards for each of her team members that would solidify her leadership role with her new team. She also devised a plan to enable her to the approach, policies and procedures for case management in her area.

Our coaching sessions provided each leader opportunities to refine their action plans, address concerns or new challenges, and celebrate wins. Clearly, in four hours of coaching, all their goals weren’t achieved, but it was enough to get these leaders moving forward with a plan to reach their goals. The reframing of a situation or looking at the situation through others’ eyes helped them to make the best decisions for the organization or themselves.

At the end of the four hours of coaching, my clients reported the following benefits from working with a coach.

“I am more confident in my leadership skills and my ability to delegate.”

“The ability to have someone who was outside our organization provide feedback to me was a huge gift. The outside perspective helped make all the difference. My coach helped me to focus on process mapping some of my larger tasks.”

“I feel much more confident in how I present myself as a leader. Also, having a sounding board outside of my organization to review situations with was extremely valuable.”

The clients also commented on how participating in coaching benefitted their organization.

“Increased my ability to effectively address work situations as well as be able to share some of what I learned.” 

“If I am more organized and a better leader – so is everyone else on my team.”

The results these three nonprofit leaders attained with just four hours of coaching, I believe, helps to answer the question about what coaching can do for YOU and your organization.

Nadine L. Kouba, PhD is a trained and certified professional executive coach. She works with leaders to increase their effectiveness and accelerate their business growth and profitability. Her company is Kouba Coaching, LLC. Currently, Nadine serves as the President of the ICF St. Louis Chapter. You can reach her by email at or calling her voice mail, 641-715-3900 Ext 968308#