Coaching Resources

To ensure that Leadership Coaches have the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively coach Certificate students, the Leadership Center offers resources for our volunteers.

Coach Orientation: Provides an introduction to the Certificate Program, including participant requirements, coach expectations, and strategies for successful coaching. All new coaches are asked to meet with an ILC staff member to receive this information upon submitting the Coach application.

Cavenaugh Leadership Resource Library: The Illinois Leadership Center® is home to over 1,000 books on leadership. These can be checked out by any of our coaches.

Coach Manual: Review the Leadership Certificate Coach Manual for a complete review of requirements and tips on coaching a student in the program. 

For a soft copy of this manual, please email

What Do Coaches Do?

There are five priority areas in which Certificate Coaches should spend their time while working with their students. Based on Peterson & Hicks's Leader as Coach: Strategies for Coaching and Developing Others (1996), these five areas are meant to provide a roadmap for creating and maintaining a productive working relationship with assigned Leadership Certificate student(s).

  1. Forge a Partnership: Before anything else, coaches need to establish a comfortable working relationship with their students. Spend time getting to know your student on a personal and professional level. This helps to establish trust and helps you better understand your student's goals, strengths, and development areas. Once you have begun to establish trust and rapport, you can begin the process of determining how the two of you will best work together. This should involve not only learning what the student is looking for from you as the coach, but sharing with the student how you are most comfortable within the coaching relationship.
  2. Inspire Commitment: Coaches should share their insights and give students the motivation necessary to complete the program, by helping students recognize the benefit they receive through participation in the program.
  3. Grow Skills: At the foundation of the coaching relationship is the ability to help students develop the skills they determine to be their objectives within the program.
  4. Promote Persistence: Students may need a little push every so often to stay on track and working on their goals. 
  5. Help Shape the Environment: Students may create powerful learning goals, but often need help from coaches in managing the environmental changes necessary for them to sustain behavior change.

Common Questions about Coaching 

What if I do not know much about leadership theory or practice?

Coaches are expected to guide assigned Certificate students through their learning — not provide it for them. Your primary responsibilities as a Coach are to develop a positive working relationship with the students you coach, provide feedback, challenge them to grow, and support their efforts along the way.

What if I have never coached students before, or do not work consistently with them?

Prior experience is not at all required. Your primary responsibilities as a coach are to develop a positive working relationship with the students you coach, provide feedback, challenge them to grow, and support their efforts along the way. 

What if I have signed up to be a Coach, but haven't been paired with a student for several months?

This could be the result of a variety of factors. Please contact an ILC staff member inquire further:

What if my student has not returned my emails or phone calls?

If you have attempted to contact your student several times over the past few weeks and have heard nothing, please contact staff at the Illinois Leadership Center. We would love to consult with you and help you connect. 

What if my student asks me if they can count a class for one of their leadership class requirements that is not listed as a pre-approved leadership course?

Your first step should be to see a copy of the syllabus — this ensures that you have accurate information about the topics covered in the class. Does the class curriculum match the learning goals in your student's PDP? If so, feel free to allow them to count the class. If not, you should be comfortable disallowing credit for the class. If you have questions or would like another opinion, please contact staff at the Illinois Leadership Center

What if I think my student's PDP or ePortfolio isn't comprehensive enough?

Ask the students to edit and augment their PDP or ePortfolio.

What should I do when my student has fulfilled all their requirements and is ready to complete the Certificate?

Students will gain access to online Completion Documents during the semester they are set to complete the Program. Once submitted, a copy of the Completion Documents is sent to the Coach for verification and approval. Students should also be working with a Coach (either your assigned Coach or an ILC staff member) to review and approve their final ePortfolio before it is submitted to the Leadership Center by the indicated deadline. Completing students and their assigned Coaches will be invited to participate in the Certificate Completion Ceremony once these materials have been submitted and reviewed. 

What if I cannot attend the Certificate Completion Ceremony?

Attendance is not mandatory. You should alert your student and the Illinois Leadership Center of your absence. 

Common Questions about Becoming a Leadership Coach

How do I volunteer to be a Leadership Coach?

  1.  Log in to our website 
  2. Click "Certificate Coach" from the left menu options
  3. Next, select "Information Sheet," from the top right, fill out the questions
  4. Upload a current resume or CV by clicking "Resume"
  5. Once everything is complete, a Leadership Center staff member will contact you with more information about scheduling an orientation session.

What is the typical time commitment for Coaches?

Leadership Coaches typically spend at least two to three hours per semester coaching one Certificate student. This includes meetings; correspondence time; preparation; follow-up; and reading and providing feedback on materials turned in to the coach by the student (PDP, reflection papers, etc).

How often should I meet with my Certificate student(s)?

It is recommended that you meet regularly with your Certificate student, but students and coaches have the flexibility to determine what works best for them. Most coaches meet with their students on a monthly basis, excluding academic breaks. At a minimum, you should meet with your student at least once per semester.

How do Coaches get paired with students?

The Illinois Leadership Center works to match students with available Coaches. Some students ask someone to be their Coach. If that person agrees, we will pair the student with that person upon Coach approval. Both the student and the Coach will receive email confirmations once they have been paired together.

Do Coaches need to be University of Illinois faculty or staff?

No, many of our coaches are alumni of the university, members of the community, corporate partners, or others interested in serving in a mentorship role.

How many students are Coaches typically assigned to?

There is no set minimum or maximum. Most coaches work with one to two Certificate students at a time. Some coaches work with more, depending on their time commitments and flexibility.

Can graduate students coach Certificate students?

Current graduate students are allowed to be Leadership Coaches.

Additional questions? Contact