Best Coaches I have Known

I believe Bill Gates is correct when he asserts that “everyone needs a coach”.  A 2021 IBEC survey ( highlighted the value of coaching.  In fact, 42% of the respondents surveyed indicated they wished they had started with a coach.

IBEC is a coaching firm and as such I have had the opportunity to observe many coaches during my time with IBEC and before then as well.  What are some of the qualities of good coaches?  I have picked out four IBEC coaches as representative of many others.

I traveled to Asia a couple of times with Ken, and I would say he did more to mentor me in the principles of faith and work than anyone. He had a lifetime of experience in an industry with many ups and downs, and that experience made him a giant of a man. I will never forget him helping me (I had come from the NFP world) understand that “you don’t have a business if you don’t have a customer”.  He also insisted that after each coaching experience, we would sit down and ask ourselves, “what did we learn”. I learned a lot from Ken’s teaching and mentoring.  Good coaches mentor.

Gary led a group of six of us to India to help a startup business in the tourism sector.  The owners of the business were doing something for the first time, and had proven to be open to coaching.  And Gary had done his homework.  He knew where to find key data on the internet about doing business in India; he had studied the Islamic traditions of western India and the state of Gujarat; he knew the political and economic considerations; and he had interviewed others in the tourism industry to understand things that were new to him. At the end of the ten-day visit, we spent one day in a hotel coming up with more than one hundred items for “next steps.” The ownership couple was overwhelmed, but delighted.  As the legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said, “When you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.” Good coaches do their homework and are prepared.

Dave and I, along with several others, travelled to Zimbabwe and Zambia a couple of years ago.  I had a chance to watch Dave in action.  He had sold a sizable business in the Midwest and was investing time and capital in African agriculture. What impressed me was that everywhere we went, Dave asked questions; he listened intently and asked more questions. He wanted to know about markets; about production schedules; about taxes; about the state of the church; about where to get product; about the labor pool, about the political landscape, and on and on.  He is a quiet mannered man, and his questions were the kind that made the person responding feel dignified and respected.  Dave valued each conversation, each response, and each new opportunity to learn; and he expressed it to them.  He reminded me that good coaches ask questions and listen.

Bob and I have facilitated many workshops together and we have worked the booth at many conventions.  I have heard him interact with young and old alike, as he moved them gently towards their futures.  I have watched him and heard him teach the principle of “get good with little things.”  Bob gives attention to details.  He was always early for an event, reviewing in his mind what could go wrong, and what will make it better.   He worked hard to memorize people’s names; he made an art out of starting and pursuing a significant conversation.  Bob analyzed the clients’ sweet spot, and studied up on what he could do to help with company needs. Bob is always upbeat and positive. Good coaches get serious about the details and stay positive.

There are many other qualities inherent in good coaches, but Ken, Gary, Dave, and Bob are classic coaches; they actually have all these qualities and much more.

Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures

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