The Self Coaching System for Personal Leadership Development

There is a substantial tradition and growing literature associated with self-healing. Various cognitive therapists have developed different systems to structure therapeutic self-analysis. Those who have maintained a practice and clientele over time claim to have sufficient documentation to establish the efficacy of their model—its capacity not only to change but also to cure.

A lesser known and spectacular sub-stream of this movement has of late gained greater visibility as an internal system of self-growth. This is a non- therapeutic, more neutral process largely devoid of the healing component and devoted instead exclusively to self development. It tends to follow a different tradition—that of mentoring or coaching. But in the process, it has raised a number of questions: Why do we talk to ourselves in the first place? What is the process? What are the outcomes? Finally, what are its conditions or standards?

Why self-talk?

  • No one is as important to ourselves as we are.
  • It is our alter ego, secret sharer, consoler.
  • It is private and safe; secrets can be kept.
  • It is proactive and preventive.
  • It offers postmortem and thus wise warnings.
  • It is reflective and thus evaluative.
  • It is often involves internal dissent, even opposition.
  • It is often seminal and involves going back to square one.
  • It stirs and directs leadership growth.
  • When successful, it becomes habitual.

The Process

  • It is totally internal.
  • The coach and the client are really two versions of the same person.
  • The exchange moves back and forth between them and between outside data and inside resources.
  • The parameters are negotiable.
  • But it never involves small potatoes.
  • Only major problems or disagreements trigger the dialogue.
  • All stops, nothing moves forward until there is a major resolution.


  • The solution must not be familiar or predictable.
  • It must be new, surprising, discovered, insightful.
  • It must be principled, historical, even archetypal; and it must generate transferrable leadership guidelines.
  • It must be leadership enabling and advance personal leadership development.

The argument here is that this critical component of leadership development is largely untapped or underused by aspiring CEOs. Although available from the start, self-coaching tends to acquire urgent pivotal value later on—after the MBA, company leadership programs, various webinars and conferences. The accumulation of experience, the extent of knowledge, and above all the proximity to the corner office invest the process now with an urgency and intelligence not found earlier. In the NEXT! edition, you'll find an application of self-coaching to launching an innovation initiative.