Leadership Tip #3 – be open to feedback

Leadership Tip #3 – be open to feedback

I rely on trusted and reliable feedback in my coaching, training & consulting.

One practice I’ve found helpful is to administer a brief survey at the conclusion of my coaching relationships, for instance.  Based on that input I gain a sense of where my strengths and weaknesses lie.

Not surprisingly, executives (including pastors, church planters & missionaries) also value feedback.  I read an article written by David F. Larcker, Stephen Miles, Brian Tayan, Michelle E. Gutman – published by The Miles Group and Stanford University. August 2013 (used with permission) that highlighted this point.  The 2013 Executive Coaching Survey suggests:

Nearly 66% of CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches, while 100% of them stated that they are receptive to making changes based on feedback.

Feedback can be helpful.  But it is really up to the individual what she/he does with it.  If the data confirms the evidence then leaders will respond accordingly.  In contrast, if that leader does not resonate with the feedback, then it is wise to reject it.

Let me give a quick example what I mean.  I am coaching a young, competent leader.  When we reviewed the feedback from a 360 degree assessment on his leadership effectiveness (see the Leadership menu) there were gaps between himself, his supervisor and his colleagues.  Further, the gaps were not in a favorable direction.  In other words, his self-perception was consistently higher, in several areas (I like it when it is the other way)!  In response, this young leader took a curious approach.  Curious what the variance in scores represented.  And a proactive posture to address those variances in practical ways.  Instead of making excuses, he determined to take action.

Remaining open to feedback is not always easy – but is an important trait of effective leaders.

Coaching Tip – Adjustments to make when coaching Traditionals, Boomers, Gen Xers & Millenials

Coaching Tip – Adjustments to make when coaching Traditionals, Boomers, Gen Xers & Millenials

Coaching a 40-something leader I discovered a significant difference when coaching his Gen X counterpart.  My mature friend was focused on achieving his goals; however, he was not as concerned about his work-life balance in comparison to his younger counterpart.  That insight informed ways I could engage each.

Further, while the goal they were both pursuing was similar, the path they took was very different.  Both were eager to establish a new church or ministry.

With the more seasoned leader I asked more task-oriented, “what” kind of questions:

  • What is your goal?
  • What is in your way?
  • What can you do to expand?

And more relational, “who” kind of questions with the younger planter:

  • Who will it reach?
  • Who could it miss?
  • Who else can you include?

These are broad generalizations, yet subtle differences reveal different approaches to can engage different people from different generations.

For further insight in generational differences, see the following 1-page resources under Generational Differences:

  • Generational Characteristics
  • Generational Core Values
  • Generational Leadership Style Preferences
  • Generational Motivation Preferences
  • Generational Team Preferences
  • Generational Communication Preferences


Leadership Tip #1 – prune aggressively

Leadership Tip #1 – prune aggressively

A life-giving gift you can give those you coach is what I like to call “pruning”.  I have found that the four categories below serve as a helpful guide to follow using Covey’s, “First Things First” matrix.  Take a moment right now to review how you are using your time this week.

  1. Pull-out your calendar.
  2. Prioritize your scheduled activities in one of four categories:
    • Quadrant I – Important & Urgent.
    • Quadrant II – Important & Not Urgent.
    • Quadrant III – Not Important & Urgent.
    • Quadrant IV – Not Important & Not Urgent.
  3. How can you spend more of your time in Quadrant II in 2017?

Coveys’ point is that most of us spend too much time in Quadrants III & IV; to the neglect of Quadrant II.  Imagine how this exercise might benefit the people you coach.  Fast forward to December, if a leader doubled her or his time in Important & Not Urgent activities, what impact would it have on their:

  • Personal development
  • Disciplemaking
  • Leader Development

Happy pruning!




Do you need a coach?

Do you need a coach?

I’ve found that one of the ways to help leaders learn how to coach is to first, be coached.

I remember serving as a coach mentor for a network of church planters.  A leader in that group had a particular understanding of the posture of a coach that collided with the non-directive approach I was taking.  If you mapped out a continuum with “non-directive” on the left side and “directive” on the right side – he was on the far right end.

Over the next couple of appointments I reinforced the power of coaching using a non-directive, self-discovery process until he came to the realization that he really did not like that style of coaching.  He concluded that his advice-giving preference suited his personality.  I agreed – but challenged him to call it something other than coaching   When you experience what it is like then it is easier to embrace (if your goal is to facilitate a self-discovery process) or REJECT coaching.

Justifiably, there is room for confusion about coaching as it relates to developing leaders, disciplemaking and church planting.  After-all, many people use the term “coaching” to describe what they do.

Here are three reasons why it is helpful for people to experience coaching:

  1. Put flesh to the coaching process e.g. it is difficult to understand what you have not experienced.
  2. Illustrate what makes coaching unique e.g. the power of “self-discovery” vs. receiving advice.
  3. Contrast other ways of helping people e.g. mentoring, counselling, consulting, etc.

Coaching tip of the month:

If your desire is to empower people – then use a process that allows the individual to discover and choose.

One of the best ways to take good intentions and move them to action is through coaching.  If you are interested in taking your vision to the next level in 2017 please contact InFocus for an exploratory conversation.   Please let us know how we can serve you.

A comprehensive coaching process – anchored in Christ

A comprehensive coaching process – anchored in Christ

I’ve trained leaders around the world in the coaching process (commonly known as the 5 Rs – see below) who are catalyzing disciple making movements, planting churches, empowering leaders, leading teams and pioneering networks.  A conversation with one missionary reminded me that the five elements of the coaching process are more descriptive than prescriptive.  It was evident this gifted woman was wrestling with the process.  When I gave her freedom to come up with her own language to describe the process she uses, she lit-up!

  • RELATE – Establishing a coaching relationship and agenda
  • REFLECT – Discover and explore key issues
  • REFOCUS – Determine priorities and action steps
  • RESOURCE – Provide support and encouragement
  • REVIEW – Evaluate, celebrate and revise plans

That is the way I present the 5-R coaching process.  Once people become familiar with the five elements then I challenge them to personalize it so that is fits their context.  Find language that captures the essence of what they do and how they do it.  And most of all – begin using it!

Below are five questions to help you identify the coaching process you use:

  1. How do I connect with people I coach?
  2. How do I help people analyze their situation?
  3. How do I help them envision the future?
  4. How do I help people identify resources to implement their plans?
  5. How do I help people I coach review their plans, celebrate success and capture insights?

Answers to these questions will help you uncover your coaching process.  The more transferable, the better.  If you have a process you’ve created, I’d appreciate you e-mailing me or sharing it with the InFocus coaching community below.


Coaching Basics

Coaching Basics

“The Coaching 101 Handbook” was published so that church planters, pastors and church multiplication network leaders would be equipped to empower missional leaders (2003).  Since then, the handbook has been translated into a couple of languages, hundreds of leaders have been trained and are coaching using the process known as the Five R’s.  The purpose Bob Logan and I co-authored this resource was to offer a comprehensive coaching process that is spiritually anchored in Christ.

I’ve done a bit of reflection on the basic skills of coaching since then.  As a result, I’ve altered the language slightly under the third area, from giving feedback to “Timely Advice”.  It focuses on the the “timeliness” of the feedback  Of course, advice-giving is discouraged in coaching and only encouraged when the person being coached has exhausted her/his ideas.

Why is that?  I like to put it like this:

You have a 50-50 chance that anyone will do anything you suggest; but when people discover something for themselves, the ratios change drastically (like to 95%) that they will act!

  • Listening: “…it is best to listen much, speak little, and not become angry;”  James 1:19
  • Asking: “Then he asked, ‘Who do you think I am?’ Peter replied, ‘You are the Messiah.'”  Mark 8:29
  • Advising: “Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.”  Proverbs 25:11 

I have also re-discovered that the most important discipline is at the hub of the illustration.  Apart from Him, we can’t accomplish anything of value.  The ability to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit and help leaders align themselves with God’s agenda sets world-class coaches apart from good coaches.  This reminder gives us confidence in a Helper to accomplish the task.

  • Abiding: “When you obey me you are living in my love, just as I obey my Father and live in his love.”  John 15:10

Abiding in Christ is the glue that makes the three skills above “sticky” – it is a game-changer for leaders.  How many times have you had people you coach come back days, weeks, months or even years later telling you that what you helped them take action on – confirmed the very thing the Lord had been prompting them to do?  This is the gift that you give to people and sometimes, you receive a gift in return and experience the impact.

If you have a story of how you have helped people take action in obedience to Christ or make shifts in their leadership, please share your insights below.  Until next week – keep on empowering leaders!