As head basketball coach, John Wooden won 10 national basketball championships, including seven years in a row, for the University of California Los Angeles. A succession of UCLA Bruins teams won 88 consecutive games under his leadership. In many bestselling books, Wooden shared his insights on coaching.

“A good coach can change a game,” Wooden said, “a great coach can change a life.”

Over her two decades working in scholarly publishing, Amy Beisel held management roles in editorial, product strategy, and business development. She applies that experience now to coach rising leaders how to overcome organizational limitations and to find the clarity that galvanizes action.

Sports coaching, according to Beisel, closely parallels her work with scholarly publishing teams and players.

“A coach sees players’ unique skills and talents, then figures out how to leverage those for the benefit of the team,” she told me in a recent interview for CCC’s Velocity of Content podcast.

Business coaches like Beisel emphasize personal development, helping employees to make positive changes in their work habits and job skills, such as communications, leadership, and team-building. Those efforts resonate with another meaning for coach. “A coach helps people get from Point A to Point B," Beisel explained. “In scholarly publishing, we’re all working to validate and disseminate research that will have a positive impact on the world. The more effective we are as individuals and organizations, the better we can meet that important mission.”

Motivations for an individual or organization to seek help from a coach can range widely, Beisel said. “At the organizational level, executives might be struggling with employee engagement and turnover since the pandemic,” she said. At other times, “they’re working on a new strategic plan, and they’re worried about their blind spots as an organization. Or they can’t follow through on their priorities. It feels like they’re just putting out fires.”

Individuals who come to Beisel for help with achieving personal career goals recognize their need for change, “but they’re just not sure how to get there,” she said. The best place to start the search is usually at the beginning.

“What’s Point A? I like to do verbal 360s as well as an assessment of thinking styles and behavioral traits to get a full understanding of where the person is starting from and how they impact others in the organization. Once we have a clear understanding of your starting point and your ending point, we can focus each coaching session on moving you closer to that goal,” Beisel said.

Employee coaching may serve to help publishers achieve important goals in diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Women in the Workplace 2023,” published in October 2023 by McKinsey and, asserted that a reason for lack of diversity at the top of the corporate ladder is often a broken rung near the bottom, at the first step into management.

“I see that on a personal level. Early in my career, I was at a couple different organizations where my team was entirely women, 100%. And as my career progressed, I was surrounded by more men and fewer women," Beisel recalled. "Then at some point, I was the only woman in the room."

“I think a lot about that broken rung. As a coach, I place special emphasis on early- to mid-career phases—how I can help women in particular step over the broken rung and how I can help managers and organizations fix that broken rung so that everyone has equal opportunities to lead and succeed.”

One publishing executive who was managing a fully remote, cross-functional project global team engaged Beisel for help with improving interoffice communications.

“The team were struggling with accountability, meeting deadlines, and getting traction,” Beisel explained. Week after week, she made "small changes that had an incredibly positive impact on the team.”

Eventually, that client looked beyond her present job to wonder about achieving a new level of success in her career.

“She felt confident going into interviews, because she had done so much work to understand her strengths and her skills," Beisel said. "And of course, now she could talk about her experience leading this successful team."

Recently, the executive received three job offers and accepted one with a double-digit pay increase.

“That move allows her to work on the things that really matter to her. That made my week,” Beisel said. “A coach is not only going to help you get from Point A to Point B, but also, possibly, to Points C and D.”

Christopher Kenneally is host of Velocity of Content, CCC’s podcast series.