Lesson #9 – Coach Development

Lesson #9 – Coach Development

So far, I’ve focused on the importance of the:

  • Spiritual: Discern the will of the Father, helping those you coach to do the same
  • Relational: Value the other person
  • Personal: Embrace your unique contribution
  • Interpersonal: You can’t want something for someone else more than they want it for themselves
  • Inspirational: Help people tap into their creativity
  • Intellectual: Challenge for clarity
  • Analytical: Analyze to Energize
  • Practical: Travel the high road high road to Confidentiality

This week I shift focus to your development as a coach.

Lesson #9 – Coach Development

Most leaders I know have committed themselves to their personal development. Committed yes! But moving from commitment to action is a bridge that is challenging for leaders to cross.

Let me unpack this a bit.

It is one thing to attend a conference. It is another to take an idea from the conference and implement. For instance, have you ever attended an event and listened to amazing experts on a topic? Felt inspired to take action “as soon as you return” to your office. But when that inspiration is confronted with reality – reality will challenge, frustrate and many times beat the inspiration out of you until it becomes a faint memory.

That “conference high” has dissipated until it has become a mere sputter. The question lingers in the back of your mind – “Why?”.

  • Why can’t you push through the invisible wall?
  • What is missing for you to take action?
  • How can you harness the energy to break-through?

Making space in your life for your coach development is like this. Over the last 30 years this has been an ongoing challenge that I have taken seriously. I have committed to certain events and practices that have served me well. Here are a couple that I would recommend:

This is not an exhaustive list, but each has contributed to my development with good information. The challenge is what do you do with that good information? Let me suggest one idea. Beginning in October, InFocus is launching the InFocus Collective.

  • The first Collective is for leaders, catalyzing church multiplication in a region. We are coming alongside leaders who want to increase the health and capacity for multiplying leaders, groups and churches to the next level. You can receive more information by clicking here.
  • The second Collective is for disciple-makers, catalyzing disciple-making movements. We are coming alongside leaders who want to increase the health and capacity for disciples making disciples. You can receive more information by clicking here.

Just one very simple, but practical way for you to take the information you have learned from various events, books and webinars to a more practical place.

Back to the topic of coach development. If you don’t take responsibility for your development – who will?

Here are five reflections on how to determine where you need to focus in your personal development:

  • What action have I taken in the last 30-90 days for my coach development?
  • What plan am I following in the next 30-90 days for my coach development?
  • What steps would I like to take in the next 30-90 days in my coach development?
  • What are the repercussions, if I don’t take these steps in the next 30-90 days for my coach development?
  • What good intentions have I gleaned from events, books and webinars in the last 30-90 days will I move to a practical place?

Finally, your development as a missional coach will determine your fruitfulness long-term.

  • I appreciate the following quote:

            “If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.” Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

When it comes to coach development, if you do not take responsibility – who will?

Celebrating 30 years of coaching missional leaders: Lesson #8 – Coaching Etiquette

Celebrating 30 years of coaching missional leaders: Lesson #8 – Coaching Etiquette

So far, I’ve focused on the importance of the:

  • Spiritual: Discern the will of the Father, helping those you coach to do the same
  • Relational: Value the other person
  • Personal: Embrace your unique contribution
  • Interpersonal: You can’t want something for someone else more than they want it for themselves
  • Inspirational: Help people tap into their creativity
  • Intellectual: Challenge for clarity
  • Analytical: Analyze to Energize

This week I shift focus to the pragmatic aspects of coaching.

Lesson #8 – Coaching Etiquette

This lesson can be learned the hard way. Like the seven proceeding lessons, experience is the best teacher. The notion of etiquette makes me nervous because you might interpret that the author, me, is an expert on the topic. Far from it. However, I have observed when certain things build rapport vs. detract from the coach relationship.

Boundaries are vital when coaching leaders. A principle in coaching is “confidentiality”. But what happens when the issue moves into the grey zone – from important information, to a “secret”, for instance. When you have been given information, that would be helpful for others to know. What do you do?

Honestly, this can be a challenging dilemma.

When certain agreements have been made up front, what do you do with information that could, and perhaps should, be shared with others?

One simple, but sometimes overlooked step is – ask permission! Asking permission to share the information from the person you are coaching. I have wrestled with this on ocasion and have forgotten the direct approach works best.

Let me take this up a level.

When you are asked to coach multiple members of the same team, including the team leader, what is the best scenario if confidentiality is an issue for you? One suggestion: bring another leader in to coach the other members of the team so that you are not the “information broker” of the entire team.

This assumes you do not have supervisory responsibilities. If you are a supervisor who is using a coach approach then there are certain obligations you have as an employee to the organization you serve. This is an exception. But if you are external to the organization, like coaching a church planter or regional leader; the “multiple coach” scenario applies.

In the big scheme of things, confidentiality is challenging to keep all the time, in every situation. Stakes are high. Coaching etiquette touches on many topics, but confidentiality is certainly high on that list.

Here are five reflections on how to determine if information should remain confidential:

  1. Will keeping the information confidential make it uncomfortable for you?
  2. Will this information do harm to other people? This might cause personal harm or mission drift.
  3. What could the repercussions be if you don’t share the information?
  4. What could the repercussions be if you do share the information without permission?
  5. How will this affect your coaching relationship if you keep this information confidential?

Finally, take this lesson seriously. Relational trust is incredibly complex but can be destroyed in a moment. I like Warren Buffet’s quote on a related issue – integrity: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

When it comes to coaching etiquette – you will seldom be criticized to taking the conservative approach to preserve the integrity of the relationship.

Lesson #7 – Analyze to Energize

Lesson #7 – Analyze to Energize

So far, I’ve focused on the importance of the:

  • Spiritual: Discern the will of the Father, helping those you coach to do the same
  • Relational: Value the other person
  • Personal: Embrace your unique contribution
  • Interpersonal: You can’t want something for someone else more than they want it for themselves
  • Inspirational: Help people tap into their creativity
  • Intellectual: Challenge for clarity

This week I shift focus to the analytic aspects of coaching.

Lesson #7 – Analyze to Energize

We have a saying around my home – “exercise to energize”. I’ve modified that saying slightly to apply to coaching: analyze to energize. Help the person you are coaching thoroughly understand the problem until they see the path forward.

How many times have you been working with a disciplemaker, and through asking powerful questions to reflect; the answer has mysteriously come to the forefront of their minds. I believe that happens more often than not when we are true to the coaching process. The results can be transformational.

Over the last 30 years a large part of my work has been in training and developing missional leaders in coaching. Most leaders who have been coaching for a while have done an adequate job using their intuition. Intuition can take a leader pretty far. But to move from good to great, helping to empowering, or effective to strategic requires three key components:

  • Comprehensive coaching process
    • Answers the questions – “What do I need to do every time I engage in a coaching conversation?”
  • Mastery of the key coaching skills
    • Answers the questions – “What skills do I need to develop to engage in a coaching conversation?”
  • Principle-based framework 
    • Answers the questions – “What topics will I coach leaders on to cultivate disciplemaking movements?”

By this I mean, if you are coaching a leader to refine their disciplemaking process, church planting process or leadership pipeline – you have a framework that you use to help the leader assess their process. You may not be fully aware that you have one, but you are consciously or subconsciously operating from your experience. Or the leader you are coaching may have that process already in hand through the network they participate in. In either case, it is imperative that the framework you use to formulate questions is built on principles. Why is this so? If your process is linked tightly to a particular model you will discover limitations. Especially when you work across denominations, cultures or with diverse leaders.

For instance, I have been working with a disciplemaker in Southeast Asia. Over the last five years he has collaborated with a network of missionaries who have catalyzed a disciplemaking movement. To-date, about 400 Discovery Bible Studies have been birthed, with some groups reproducing to the third and fourth generation. In addition, two new church plants have been birthed from their efforts.

If I came in with a western model of disciplemaking I could do more harm than good. However, if the disciplemaking process is based on principles, then the questions I ask will come from a more global understanding of disciplemaking and not direct the leader down a path that will lead them to a distinctly western model.

This leader has seen the necessity of coaching in a disciplemaking movement. The reason why many movements stall-out in the first generation it due to the leader’s inability to release the need to control the outcome. Once again, when a principle-based approach is taken – the fruit tends to be healthier. The leader will posture himself/herself in the role of catalyst which results in reproduction into the second, third and fourth generation.

The framework I use is called the Leadership Multiplication Pathway Storyboard. When you take a closer look, you see four phases of development, each with it’s own storyboard:

  1. Character – Missional Discipleship 
  2. Calling – Focused Ministry 
  3. Competency – Effective Leadership 
  4. Culture – Continuous Multiplication 

You can read more about the system by clicking here and downloading the article at the bottom of the page.

The storyboard is simply a tool. It is the technical side of coaching. The relational side is you, and what you bring to the equation.

Here are five principle-focused questions to coach a disciplemaking movement leader:

  1. What is a disciple?
  2. Describe your disciplemaking process?
  3. What is missing in your process?
  4. What do you need to change?
  5. What it your next step?

Whatever framework you use, it is important to understand the nuances, strengths and limitations of the process you use. The strength of the storyboards are the principles they are based upon. This allows for diverse applications regardless of model of ministry, contextual issues or leadership approaches.

Lesson #6 – Challenge for Clarity

Lesson #6 – Challenge for Clarity

So far, I’ve focused on the importance of the:

  • Spiritual: Discern the will of the Father, helping those you coach to do the same
  • Relational: Value the other person
  • Personal: Embrace your unique contribution
  • Interpersonal: You can’t want something for someone else more than they want it for themselves
  • Inspirational: Help people tap into their creativity

This week I shift focus to the strategic aspect of coaching.

Lesson #6 – Challenge for Clarity

There is a wonderful dynamic when a leader or team moves from:

  • confusion and perhaps discouragement to agreement on an issue
  • a rough idea to a vision
  • good intentions to action

In coaching, the moment when shifts occur, the leader moves to greater clarity.

Let’s talk about a real situation. I was coaching a team to help them navigate their vision. One of the big components of their vision was church planting. As I facilitated the visioning process with them God was doing something that forced them to clarify – He was preparing a team to plant a church in another part of the country.

As we met it became more and more obvious. Rather than talking about some day planting a church; this team began asking an entirely different set of questions:

  • Who will be going?
  • What commitments will we (the parent church) ask of the team planting the new church?
  • How will we communicate with the rest of the church body?
  • What resources will we provide?
  • How will we relate to the new church?

In this situation, the team realized that God was already at work, and the leader(s) needed to cooperate. They had a choice: would they support the work He was doing, or would they resist?

The more leaders are willing to put themselves in a posture of responding, to what the Lord wants from them, the more He asks of the leader(s) – according to their level of obedience.

Coaches can be immensely helpful. When leaders struggle to clearly see what God is doing, a coach can help clarify where they need to focus. As leaders clarify, they must be challenged to take action. Here are five tips a coach can implement to assist leaders to maintain an open posture to the Lord:

  1. Celebrate the “wins” (ways God is at work)
  2. Pray to thank God for His goodness
  3. Clarify current reality
  4. Brainstorm actions
  5. Challenge to take the next step

One resource I’ve found extremely helpful in clarifying vision for church planters and pastors is the vision frame. This is a great resource that defines the key components of vision. Check out Will Mancini’s book, Church Unique, for more information.

Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders: Lesson #5 – Help people tap their creativity

Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders: Lesson #5 – Help people tap their creativity

Lessons I’ve gleaned after coaching missional leaders for 30 years:

So far, I’ve focused on the importance of the:

  • Spiritual: Discern the will of the Father, helping those you coach to do the same
  • Relational: Value the other person
  • Personal: Embrace your unique contribution
  • Interpersonal: You can’t want something for someone else more than they want it for themselves

This week I shift focus to the creativity of coaching.

Lesson #5 – Help people tap into their creativity

I’ve mentioned that I enjoy attending The Global Leadership Summit hosted by The Willowcreek Association every August. It is the gathering of leadership experts from the business (secular) and ministry (sacred) arenas. I would encourage you to attend this event with your team next year.

This year we heard Fredrik Haren speak on the topic of “creativity” from his bestselling publication, “The Idea Book”. I am taking the concept of creativity and relating it to the “core purpose” of coaching a leader.

Haren began by asking 3 questions in his global research:

  1. How many people think creativity is important to their job? 98% globally
  2. How many people believe they are creative? 45% globally
  3. Does your company/organization develop your creativity? 2% globally

Key Learning – based on his research, there is no correlation between 1 & 3.

It raises an important question for coaching: What role should a coach play in developing the creativity of leaders we coach?

Furthermore, Haren continues his examination of creativity by offering a definition for the word “idea.” According to Haren, an idea occurs when two abstract, seemingly unrelated concepts are combined in a new and novel way.

Another way of saying this is: Creative Idea = Person (Knowledge + Idea)

Let’s apply this to coaching.

Let’s say the church planter you are coaching has a vision for a different kind of church. I have been working with a planter for the last 18 months. Bruce Persons is planting The Table Church. The challenge for Bruce is to reach one of the most invisible, under-reached & under-resourced communities in the world: the Deaf and hard of hearing.

Here is how Bruce describes the unique vision of The Table Church:

  1. TTC is a church plant in Frederick, MD with a vision for rapid multiplication.
  2. TTC uses Facebook heavily, to reach remote locations of the world.
  3. TTC follows a sort of an organic, cell church model.
  4. TTC uses video because we are reaching a people group who uses American Sign Language to communicate.
  5. TTC’s goal is to make the gospel accessible to the Deaf and hard of hearing community through ASL.

Bruce saw the opportunity.

  • Knowledge – isolation of the Deaf and hard of hearing community
  • Idea – leverage the internet to reach this “invisible” group of people

With a focus on smaller communities of faith, he discovered that the internet through the use of Facebook, could cast his net wide while meeting the relational needs in smaller gatherings. As a result of streaming his sermons, 1,500 people have logged-in to worship services. This is a great example of a creative strategy that meets people where they live and creates the relational support that is a desperate need, through smaller communities of faith. He has planted one faith community at Gallaudet University, while a second is on the way in Washington DC.  

What separates a good coach from a great coach? Good coaches help people reflect; great coaches have the ability to tap the creativity of a leader through listening and powerful questions.

Here are five questions to help you tap a leaders creativity:

  • If you knew you could not fail, what would your church look like?
  • What makes your church unique?
  • How would your church make the community a better place?
  • What sets your church apart from other churches?
  • What excites you about your church?

The above story is used with permission – see The Table Church for more information.