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.

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.

Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders: Lesson #2 – Value the other person

Celebrating 30 years coaching missional leaders: Lesson #2 – Value the other person

I began coaching in 1988.  I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to coach leaders to start all kinds of churches & pioneer disciple-making movements.  Last week I began sharing lessons that I’ve learned from coaching some of the most amazingly gifted, truly faithful & hard-working leaders serving in the Lord’s Church today. Here is a list of lessons that I’ve gleaned:

Lesson #1 – Discern the will of the Father

Last week I focused on the importance of the spiritual foundation in coaching. Discern the will of the Father and helping those you coach, do the same. This week, I will focus on the relational foundation.

Lesson #2 – Value the other person

You must earn the trust of the leader you coach in order for them to engage in the coaching process.

A teeter-totter works when two participants have figured out how to balance the relationship of one end of the teeter-totter with the other end. A coach must learn to gauge the:

  • commitment level of the leader to the objective
  • engagement level of the leader to the coaching process
  • trust level of the leader to the relationship

Trust is the fulcrum of the coaching relationship.  One of the best ways to unravel a coaching relationship, or any relationship for that matter, is to break trust.

Here is a list of ten questions I’ve gleaned over the years to build and maintain trust:

Ten Trust-building Reflection Questions:

  1. Under promise: What are realistic expectations for this coaching relationship?
  2. Over deliver: How can I coach this leader to surpass their goal?
  3. Be prompt: What do I need to sacrifice to be on time?
  4. Keep confidence: What must I do to maintain confidentiality?
  5. Direct lines of communication: Who must I speak to in this situation?
  6. Admit when mistakes are made: What is the best way for me to approach the leader affected?
  7. Reschedule as soon as possible: What potential conflicts do I see in my coaching schedule?
  8. Do what you say: What commitments do I know I will keep?
  9. Connect peopleWho do I know that could uniquely relate to the leader I am coaching?
  10. Pay it forward: How can I bless this leader through a random act of kindness?

Next week I will share another lesson that I’ve learned as the Lord has allowed me to partner with leaders who are making a significant contribution to the work of cultivating disciplemaking movements.  Leaders who have been instrumental in raising up leaders, making disciples & starting new ministries. Missional leaders who understand the force when the DNA of multiplication is integrated in the very essence of everything that they do and releasing control!

Management Effectiveness Profile

Management Effectiveness Profile

I have used self-assessments, 180’s (self + colleagues) & 360’s (self + colleagues + supervisor) for many years now.  It is exciting to receive the data and process this information with leaders.  Sometimes the data affirms, other times it challenges and in some situations, the information can be surprising.

Awareness is the first step to change!

Let me explain.  A number of years ago I was assessing a leader’s management style to determine if he had the skill-set to take more responsibility in supervising key staff.  He was an excellent speaker in a large, growing church.  But was unaware that his management style was driving people away.  In conversation with members of his team, they were open with their feelings which were confirmed by the data.  When I administered the assessment the leader was confident his scores would reveal his expertise in empowering his team; unfortunately, it exposed glaring weaknesses in his ability to manage those around him.  In fact, that assessment, along with anecdotal evidence, thoroughly convinced his boss that he was not the man for the job and eventually, led to his resignation.

This was NOT the intended purpose of the exercise, but it illustrates the power of a 360.  Data does not lie – it simply is!  Here are a couple of questions to determine if an instrument, like the Management Effectiveness Profile (scroll down the page to Management) could be a helpful exercise for you and those you coach..

  • Have you assessed your management style?
  • Have you helped those you coach, assess their management style?
  • How could the Management Effectiveness Profile help people in your team or organization understand their strengths and weaknesses?