The Shift to a Coach Approach
I have spent my entire adult life leading. I am a local church pastor and non-profit mission leader with somewhat of an entrepreneurial spirit. And I love what I do! I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. I have been blessed to pastor the same small town church for almost 20 years. That church has a ministry equal to or larger than churches that are 3 times its size with international missions involvement in multiple countries. It has launched a non-profit mission agency that has sent hundreds of people on short-term mission trips, made dramatic effects on poverty, and helped provide clean water for thousands and thousands of people.
And yet I was frustrated! I felt some sense of failure as a leader and as a local church pastor. No matter how hard I worked, how many new initiatives we launched, or how many people were involved, there was a sense of frustration. Marriages were and are still hurting. Evangelism is slow and hard. Over 1000 sermons in the same church have been more forgotten than applied. I often fail to live up to the expectations of the church. Truth be told, I likely have unrealistic expectations of myself and my church.
I have known for a long time that leadership needs to look different. It probably needs to look different in most organizations. But it absolutely needs to look different in the body of Christ. And personally, I knew my leadership mindset needed some adjustment. For the sake of the organizations that I work in, I have to adapt as a leader. And probably for my own health, I need to change.
Moving from a Teaching, Telling, Know-It-All-ism
Every organization needs strong leaders who can cast vision and teach well. I received some of the best training the local church could provide. I am extremely thankful for the investment leaders made in my life. I think they did as good of a job of teaching and preparing me as any world-class college or training organization could do. I have spent over 20 years being a strong up-front leader emphasizing in teaching and telling. And the telling aspect isn’t bad. Vision-casting is necessary and good.
I didn’t have the words for know-it-all-ism. Keith Webb introduced me to the idea when describing a kind of leadership that emphasizes a “the leader is the expert” kind of thinking. I had already been exploring coaching as a new skill to add to my leadership. Organizational consulting wasn’t working for me (I was doing some). Counseling is something that I am not gifted in. I can mentor others, but find that I shift quickly back into a teaching role. Whether I liked it or not, I had turned into an expert who was trying to be all things to all people—taking my vast knowledge (sarcasm) and training and using it to “make things happen.”
Professional coaching appeals to me because I don’t have to be an expert anymore. I can invite more people into conversations, let them share in the vision casting, goal setting, and planning. Instead of pushing people in the direction I think they need to go, I can ask them what their goals are in life, marriage, parenting, spiritual growth, and other areas. They can be the expert. They have the ability to do more than I can.
The language for all of this came through coaching. I thought I knew what coaching was. But I was wrong. My idea of coaching was more like mentoring and consulting. Anyone can call themselves a coach and that causes a lot of confusion, thus my own confusion. I still had misconceptions about coaching when I signed up for the Coaching Mastery Certificate Program.
In preparation for coach training, I read The Coach Model for Christian Leaders: Powerful Leadership Skills for Solving Problems, Reaching Goals, and Developing Others. I had already read a dozen other books on coaching, but still didn’t understand the what and the how very well. The Coaching Mastery Certificate program along with the Coach Model book gave me the understanding and the tools to add coaching to my leadership.
“Coaching isn’t about teaching someone what we know. Coaching is about helping people to learn.”
— The Coach Model for Christian Leaders – Keith Webb (p.12)
“A good coach draws out what the Holy Spirit has put in.”
— The Coach Model for Christian Leaders – Keith Webb (p.25)
“If you change your conversations, you will change your results.”
— The Coach Model for Christian Leaders – Keith Webb (p.35)
Ten Benefits I have Experienced From a Coach Approach
- Coaching puts the other person in the driver’s seat.
- I don’t have to be an expert for everyone. I am responsible for coaching. Each person is responsible for their own lives and their goals.
- Less stress. I can let people be in process and offer coaching as a ministry to help them close the gaps between where they are and where they want to be.
- I don’t have to teach and tell as much. Teaching can be the gift I offer on Sunday and in a few other venues, but it’s not the only way I lead.
- Coaching invites more people to the table. More people get involved in goal setting, decision making, and in the work of ministry.
- Coaching is an awesome way to disciple people. It may be the best way to include Millennials and Generation Z in conversations.
- I am a better husband and father. I ask more questions. I listen more. I say less. I am learning new things from my wife and my kids and l love it.
- I appreciate each person’s story more. I love hearing them talk about their desires and goals. I can celebrate their growth with them as they move forward in reaching their goals.
- I am excited about letting younger leaders have the leadership platform. I feel better about lifting them up in their leadership and being the person in the background.
- I am still busy, but prayerfully less consumed with busyness. It sounds convoluted, but my focus is different. I have more energy, and I am excited about working with people in this new way.
Adding Coaching Skills to Your Leadership Skills
Consider ordering The Coach Model for Christian Leaders: Powerful Leadership Skills for Solving Problems, Reaching Goals, and Developing Others. The new expanded and revised edition equips leaders to have powerful conversations while helping people solve their own problems and reach their own goals. If you want to add some training to your reading consider signing up for The Coaching Workshop for Christian Leaders. If you want to get formal training to add professional-level coaching skills to your leadership along with ICF certification then the Coaching Mastery Certificate Program is an excellent option.
The Coach Model book is the one coaching book that has changed my leadership because the coaching model is practical and accessible. Any leader can immediately begin learning how to add a coach approach to their leadership. Coaching well takes time and practice. This is the best resource I know of to help you get started.