A Secret Question and The Six Marks of Transformational Leadership

A Secret Question and The Six Marks of Transformational Leadership

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In the world of coaching, there’s often a quest for the perfect question—the one that unlocks insights, initiates change, and propels growth. Years ago as an aspiring coach, I too found myself trapped in this pursuit, aiming to craft the ideal query for every situation. However, this relentless pursuit of the “perfect question” led me down a path of formulaic coaching, where I followed a rigid and linear process.

Recently, someone asked me: “What is a question that works wonders in leading others?” (ie: the secret question.) There is no singular, magic question. The essence of coaching lies not in a set of pre-fabricated questions, but rather in the art of deep presence and active listening.

As a faith-driven executive business coach, I operate from a core belief in my coaching paradigm. The individuals I work with often seek to embody whole-hearted leadership, rooted in their personal beliefs of following God and integrating work and life. Therefore, I have a stewardship to guide them to deeper wells beyond a quick fix or finding a leadership hack.

There are moments when conversations transcend the realms of self-help and leadership theory. This week was one of those deep weeks. I stepped beyond a coach because no question was sufficient to help promote change, except one question: “What does obedience look like to you right now?”

This simple question opened doors to profound, rich, and meaningful conversations that unlocked emotional and relational healing. It spurred introspection and reflection, inviting individuals to dive into the depths of their beliefs, values, and actions.

What makes a leader or coaching partner ready to go into the deep end with this singular question or what makes a leader ready to transcend a transactional self-help leader into a transformational leader—qualities that prepare one to hear, receive, and respond to such a question?

The Six Marks of a Transformational Leader

The following is rooted in my faith and is not an expository teaching of these topics, but only to identify indicators on a dashboard to help guide you to abundant living as a leader. These reflections could be ascribed to several leaders throughout the story of God, in general, these traits make Abraham a transformational leader in his desire for obedience in Genesis 22:13.


Transformational leaders approach each interaction with a sense of humility. They acknowledge that they do not possess all the answers and are open to learning from others. This humility allows them to connect authentically with those they lead, fostering trust and collaboration.


An essential trait of a transformational leader is heightened awareness—both of themselves and the world around them. They possess a keen sense of observation, understanding the nuances of situations and the emotions of those they lead. This awareness enables them to tailor their approach and responses effectively.


Transformational leaders take ownership of their actions, decisions, and their impact on others. They do not shy away from accountability but instead embrace it as a pathway to growth. This sense of ownership cultivates a culture of responsibility within their teams.


The ability to acknowledge mistakes and vulnerabilities is a mark of true leadership. Transformational leaders are not afraid to admit when they’ve faltered, recognizing that vulnerability breeds connection and empathy.


Beyond confession lies the willingness to make amends and seek reconciliation. Transformational leaders understand the power of forgiveness, both in giving and receiving. They actively work towards repairing relationships and restoring trust.


At the core of transformational leadership is unwavering faithfulness—to one’s values, principles, and the greater purpose. This steadfast commitment inspires others, creating a shared sense of purpose and direction.

In the tapestry of coaching, it is not about having the perfect question at the ready, but rather about cultivating the qualities that allow one to ask the better questions at the right time.

The journey of coaching is one of continuous learning, growth, and exploration—both for the coach and coaching partner. As we embrace the art of deep presence, active listening, and the courage to ask profound questions, we pave the way for transformational leaders to flourish.

So, the next time you find yourself in a coaching conversation or need to take a bold step in your life or business that calls for depth and introspection, consider the power of a single question: “What does obedience look like to you right now?” Allow it to unravel layers of thought, belief, and action, guiding both you and those you partner with toward profound insights and meaningful growth in your pursuit of being a faith-driven leader.