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Interview with Jeannine Sandstrom: Coaching Founder and Legacy Leader

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In preparing a history of professional coaching, to be presented in Curated 2021, William Bergquist interviews Dr. Jeannine Sandstrom, one of the founders of contemporary professional coaching practices and a leading figure in the creation of systemic leadership development programs. Along with Dr. Lee Smith, Jeannine established the first global public coach training program for professional leadership coaches.


Several of the major themes to be offered by Dr. Sandstrom were:

Those providing early leadership in the field of professional coaching often offered “good trouble” in challenging the dominant assumptions of the time regarding leadership and ways in which best to serve those in leadership roles.

Jeannine came to professional coaching from the provision of traditional management education. She found the established models of management to be inadequate, especially when she was offering management programs to established, experienced managers. Something was missing.

Jeannine began using coaching strategies as a way to engage in effective leadership and management development. At a client’s request she and her colleague, Lee Smith, expanded their coach training platform for organizational leaders into major programs now owned and delivered by CoachU globally. Her next major work on leadership (Legacy Leadership) came from that coaching framework – providing coaches in organizations a solid leadership platform against which to develop leaders from a coaching perspective.

Jeannine’s background in international work enabled her to provide a global perspective in the areas of professional coaching and leadership development. This perspective is particularly important today.

Jeannine benefited from being in a collaborative relationship with Lee Smith in the generation of their leadership model (Legacy Leadership). Lee offered a psychological perspective, while Jeannine offered more of a managerial perspective.


The Legacy Leadership program established by Jeannine and Lee Smith was distinctive in many ways–including the client population being serviced.  Although some consulting/training groups had developed similar training, it was only available for their client companies.  The core coach training offered by Legacy Leadership has been utilized for 1000s of professional coaches worldwide.

Jeannine found the example of a person who is a swimming coach to be quite relevant. The person who is coaching swimmers is not in the water with the swimmers, but is able to observe what they are doing from standing on the side of the pool. Those providing coaching to leaders in organizations are providing a similar service.


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