A sports coach teaches skills, guides his or her players, and quite often, tells them what to do in a given situation.

Other types of coaches help with skill development and provide guidance, but never give the answers.

"I won't tell them what to do," Jeanette Siemens said. "I work with a client to find the answer they already knew was in themselves."

Siemens is a leadership coach, recently certified by the Kansas Leadership Center. She is one of 20 Kansas Leadership Center coaches who earned certification as Civic and Community Leadership Coach, following hours of training, which is on-going, classes with other coaches and mentor coaches and working with clients.

The Kansas Leadership Center was launched in 2007 with a $30 million grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, with the challenge of cultivating civic leadership across the state and the conviction that the connection between civic health and the more traditional notions of sound mental and physical health is strong.

The Center offers a number of programs in which instruction is followed up with interaction with a coach. The goal is to help the individual connect what they have learned with what they're doing, Siemens said, noting that sometimes people attend a workshop; come home all "enthused," and then lose momentum. The coach helps keep the enthusiasm alive in ways that lead to positive change.

The philosophy of the Leadership Center is that leadership is an activity, not a position, and everyone is called on to take leadership in certain situations, whether in the family, church, organization or community.

Training offered by the Center helps people recognize that we don't have to have the answer, Siemens said, but may just help a group get a clear picture of the situation, look at all aspects and collaborate for a solution.

The solution may not be what has always been done, or even what people initially think should be done.

Siemens does a lot of coaching from home, but also works at the Center in Wichita for a few days every two or three months.

"Coaching is tremendously effective in helping Kansans gain new skills and insight to help them make a difference in their civic engagement," said Ed O'Malley, president and CEO fo the Kansas Leadership Center. "Jeanette's certification is a tremendous asset to the Kansas Leadership Center, but most importantly, to the individuals and teams she works with who will be empowered to strengthen their communities through her knowledge, expertise and passion."

Siemens is the former executive director of the Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, a position she held for almost 16 years. Following retirement in 2006, she co-founded ThinkOut Strategic Solutions in partnership with her daughter, Jeanine McKenna. As part of ThinkOut, Siemens worked in Greensburg and Kiowa County as economic development director for two years, helping guide the rebuilding process after the May 2007 tornado. She is also a colleague of Public Square Communities LLC, which works with established leaders and helps develop new leaders and guides them in the development of strong communities.