Coaching: Four Days in the Sunshine Morph Into a Consulting Business

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Four days in the sunshine seemed like a good idea to Don Cruickshank.

Don Cruickshank

Don Cruickshank

When the Canadian resident needed a few more credits to finish coursework for his Masters in Leadership and Management (MALM) at Briercrest Seminary, a Google search led him to the Leading From Your Strengths Equipping Conference.

“The conference was approved as an external certification and it was affordable,” said Don. “Plus, it was in Arizona.” In a worst-case scenario, he’d complete his three credit hours and get a break from being a stay-at-home dad while completing his degree.

So Don registered for the conference and packed his bags for warmer temperatures.

He didn’t know then that Leading From Your Strengths process would become the foundation of his DC Leadership & Training Consulting business.

A Tool with Integrity

Conflict and struggles are not new to Don, a ten-year ministry veteran who had served as a church staff member and in youth development before entering the MALM program.

But what was new in Leading From Your Strengths was a concrete way to handle those struggles with integrity. “LFYS positions you to be in a place of servant leadership rather than transactional leadership,” says Don. “You can pour into others because they have inherent value, rather than because they are going to give something back to you.”

Once he became Level I & II Certified in the Leading From Your Strengths process, Don had a tool he could use to equip ministries and leaders to manage beginnings, endings, and relationships with respect for all involved.

“The tool is rooted in biblical truth,” he says. “And it is usable in day-to-day life.”

A Tool That Applies to Everybody

Don didn’t necessarily plan to start a consulting business, yet as he finished his MALM, people began approaching him for coaching.

One dad wanted to invest in career counseling for his millennial son. A missionary couple on furlough from Youth With A Mission asked for personal development consultations. No two requests are alike, says Don, but he has discovered that the LFYS process benefits every client he serves.

In one instance, a local CPA asked for help as she prepared to interview for an executive CFO position. How could she communicate clearly and also know if the work environment was a good fit for her?

After Don showed the client his own LFYS profile, she completed her own assessment. “Wow, the report gave me all this data in just 10 minutes,” she said. Together, she and Don reviewed how she might be perceived when in the stress of the interview. The report provided language she was able to use in the interview to explain her strengths and cues to look for as she assessed the team lead’s management style. When the interview day arrived, she was prepared.

“This tool applies to everybody,” he says.

A Tool That Is Building A Business

Instead of focusing on one demographic or one type of coaching, Don focuses on helping clients from all walks of life to apply universal principle of strengths. This approach allows his consulting business to extend beyond the borders of his hometown of Winkler, Manitoba (population 14,000) and its farming and industrial economy. Half of his clients come from Don’s sales and marketing efforts and half are by referrals via his website (, social media accounts, and networking – sometimes taking him outside his immediate area.

For instance, a church saw Don’s posts on LinkedIn and contacted him for a half-day team-building experience at their location.

Don had the staff members and elders complete the Leading From Your Strengths profiles. As team members shared their profile content, one staff member revealed that he was clearly making major adaptations in order to meet expectations. The team’s reaction was unanimous: “We never realized this about you, Jason!” How could they adjust Jason’s responsibilities so he could use his strengths and not burn out? Meanwhile, the team’s Strengths Wheel revealed another issue – the team was filled with encouraging, trusting, and enthusiastic individuals and needed a realistic, objective decision-maker for balance.

That first short session led the church team to schedule a full day of coaching with Don, several months later, in order to create a game plan to build their team and blend their strengths. All as a result of that LinkedIn post.

“I discovered LFYS by ‘accident,’ but this tool has become the foundation of my coaching and consulting business,” says Don. “It works – and it is based on truth. It equips anyone in nearly any situation to lead from their strengths.”

Don Cruickshank spent ten years in local church ministry before founding DC Leadership Training and Consulting. He holds a Masters of Leadership and Management from Briercrest Seminary. Don and his wife Crystal live in Manitoba, Canada, with their two children, Justice and Arianna.

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