Coaching - A Trusted Partner in a Complex World


What does it mean to practice leadership in the face of the complexities of the twenty-first century? At KONU, we believe that true leadership is not necessarily about being the most visible, or the most charismatic, or the most outspoken. True leadership means empowering communities to move towards a shared version, to place the common good front and center, to do the difficult work together.

From the smallest communities to the global stage, leadership challenges and opportunities of this nature abound. For instance, how might we revitalize local economies while preparing ourselves for the ever-increasing pace of technology? Or rethink our energy infrastructure to maximize our potential without continuous harm to the environment? How might we heal the wounds of centuries-old international conflicts? Or help local neighbors talk across lines of race, class, religion, and politics to live together?

We see this complexity everywhere in our work:

  • The government affairs team of a multinational corporation attempting to shift the paradigm of the health system from treating illness to preventing root causes.

  • A young non-profit under intense fundraising pressure trying to navigate the tension between their core mission and the objectives of their donors.

  • The school leadership of an independent international school working to honor the diverse expectations of a multi-ethnic, multicultural, multilingual parent and teacher body while aligning with the local school regulations.

  • Top scientists engaging in cutting edge research that takes years of patient, labor-intensive work, while running their labs like small businesses to keep afloat from one fiscal year to the next.

Complex problems. Competing priorities. Increased uncertainty. Painful sacrifices. It can all feel so overwhelming. Where do we even start?

One place to start is with ourselves.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
— Howard Thurman

As a committed leader, one of the most powerful levers you can pull to help shift the world away from the zero-sum thinking that leads to excessive competition and conflict is to understand your own skills, strengths, interests, passions, and growing edges. To understand, as the theologian and scholar Howard Thurman says, who you are and what makes you come alive. Leadership is, at its heart, an act of service that comes from the deepest, most creative, most generous part of ourselves.

We are all unique. We all have something to offer. And we are all caught up in the webs of connection that make the world so complex. By digging into our own motivations and passions, we can maintain the drive to stay engaged, to tackle complex challenges, to puzzle through the politics and possibilities of a future that doesn’t yet exist. We can bring our very best selves to those we seek to serve and to lead.   

KONU’s one-to-one coaching is designed to help you do just that. Ready to Level Up Your Leadership?


What is Coaching?

At KONU, we see coaching as a creative partnership with each individual client. Simply put, you bring a challenge or dilemma related to your own development, and we help you make genuine progress. It starts with the assumption that all of us have responsibility for our problems, and that each of us also have the resources for solving those problem. Leveraging a wide range of tools, frameworks, and competencies, our coaching team helps our clients to clarify the challenge, define the stakes, and develop a vision for success or progress. Once those definitions are in place, we embark on a journey together to tackle this challenge.

During this process, coach and client meet regularly, either in-person or virtually, every few weeks. Each session, the client brings the most recent manifestation of the overall development goal or challenge to these meetings, and the KONU coach will help the client explore underlying issues, identify potential internal and external barriers, and clarify potential options for future action.



In addition to our consulting, teaching, and facilitation work, coaching is an essential part of our theory of change, and has become an offering in almost every project we do:

  • Our multi-modular leadership development programs include the option for coaching for the participants

  • Our organizational change initiatives almost always include coaching for senior leadership

  • We offer direct 1:1 coaching to managers and leaders of all stripes – particularly those who are maneuvering tough and complex challenges.

  • Our practice also teaches clients to take a coaching stance towards their peers – not to lead with solutions, but with powerful questions, presence, observations and listening.   

What Coaching Isn’t

Coaching is different from consulting in that KONU does not typically make any particular recommendations about “what you should do.” It is the client (not the coach) who develops insights and action plans.

Coaching is also different from teaching in that is does not follow a learning agenda designed by the teacher. It is truly client-led. If the client wants or needs to take a different direction than the coach, it is the coach’s job to honor that and adapt accordingly. There is no lesson plan and there are no right or wrong answers.

Coaching is different from facilitation in that the coach is less visible than a facilitator. S/he doesn’t own the process. It is co-created between both coach and client, and it is up to the client to take action.

Finally, coaching is different from therapy in that it does not treat any illnesses or disorders (and is not allowed to). It is future-oriented and developmental. Coaching is a powerful and truly transformative experience.

Ready to Bring Your Best Self to Your Work?