Leader Combos

Coaching roles and styles has been on my mind this morning since watching The Playbook: A Coach’s Rules for Life on Netflix (the show is thought-provoking and quotable, albeit lacking potential depth). Coaching and Leadership don’t really have a right answer and up to the individual. That said, I feel that everyone would benefit from making a study of Leadership and Coaching at some point in their fencing journey.

Leadership isn’t reserved for the elite. Leadership is an act of service that anyone can get involved in. Too often we only celebrate the things that hardly anyone can do, when instead we should recognize the value and power of all the little things we do every day. Which brings me to my latest Think Sheet.

Below is a grid of the different roles and styles (along with definitions in my own simplified understanding) I believe a leader might take. Each has a different flair, is effective at different times, and has different strengths and weaknesses. Whatever the combo is, we can all take part in leadership and have an impact on those around us.


This is the role or part you play as a leader. It’s what you are at any given moment aka the WHAT.


A Mentor is someone who guides someone less experienced through situations that they are familiar with.


A Coach is primarily an observer who directs the training and path of a student in real time towards a goal.


A Teacher is a source of knowledge and information that can transfer to a student.


A Peer is an equal or companion that participates in the learning process with another.


This is the style or method of your leadership. It’s how you go about leading aka the HOW.


The Visionary style emphasizes the big pictures and uses the end goal to motivate and inspire.


The Coaching style is working with a student through what they have and developing it into something more.


The Affiliative style is about developing bonds and relationships through empathy and collaboration.


The Democratic style is getting the students involved in their own learning and making them an equal partner in the process.