Is A Coach Right for You?

Is A Coach Right for You?

Earlier this year I was interviewed by Dr. Mike Patterson about coaching. We discussed what makes coaching unique in comparison to other ways of helping people – counseling, mentoring, consulting, etc. In the interview with Dr. Patterson, I shared a list of questions leaders will ask when considering hiring a coach:

  • Do I need a coach?
  • Where do I start my research?
  • What is the duration of a coaching relationship?
  • How will I know if I’ve found a good match?
  • How much will it cost?

Before going any further, however, an important question to consider is the value or benefit of a coach to your life. This will inform your responses to the other questions and help you clarify whether you really want to engage in a coaching relationship.

Here is an actual (and very common) scenario of a leader–“Jim–who sensed the need to pursue a coaching relationship.

Jim was new to his position as the head of an international missions network. Realizing how the complexity of his new role would require fresh ways of leading, he felt he could use the support of someone outside his immediate ministry context. When he shared the need with his board, they agreed that an executive leadership coach would benefit him during that season. Jim went to his friend, “Sam,” who was a pastor in a region where he had previously served. Sam had experience with a coach, “Frank,” he thought would be a good match for Jim. The connection was made and Jim and Frank had a conversation to explore the potential of a coaching relationship.

This began the process of discernment for Jim and Frank–would this be a worthy investment of time and resources for them? If you are in the process of discerning whether a coaching relationship will be a worthwhile investment, you might find the list below helpful for you to determine the answer.

From my experience, the three most compelling reasons for finding a coach are:


The heavy lifting in a coaching conversation involves listening and asking powerful questions. That’s the value of having a coach from outside your organization or church who does not have a vested interest in the outcome of the coaching relationship. Additionally, coaching relationships help facilitate self-discovery, and things that you discover on your own are the things for which you are more likely to take action. Leaders accelerate their growth when a coach facilitates that process of self-discovery (versus telling a client what he/she needs to do).

Jim is a sharp leader and regularly discovers his own solutions by verbally processing the situations he is confronted with in his role. The value Frank brings to Jim is the ability to process his thoughts out loud without judgment. Sounds simplistic, but the space this creates for Jim is unique and one that Jim values.  


Self-discovery is the first step in the change process. Having the support of a coach to carry out a new way of leading, relating to people, or taking a step in a new direction adds tremendous value to the life of the client. There are natural challenges you confront when attempting to establish a new way of doing something. Those challenges can be mitigated–or sometimes even eliminated–with the support of a coach.

Jim is a self-starter, but there are some things that remain neglected without the support of other people, tools, and systems that Frank helps him identify. The goal is not dependence on Frank, but for Jim to build an accountability structure that allows him to stay on track.


The greatest benefit to having a coach walk alongside you is helping you focus your attention on the important and urgent versus the important but non-urgent responsibilities that will move the mission of your life and ministry forward.

A coach can help you maintain your attention on those things that will have the biggest impact on you, your calling in life, and your ministry.

Now, after 5 years in a coaching relationship, Jim has accelerated his development, moved the organization he leads into a new paradigm, and is flourishing as a leader.  Jim is a coachable leader and Frank is an excellent coach. The combination of the two makes for a strategic relationship that helps Jim go further faster in his leadership.

The value of a coach has a high return on investment when the coach brings the three things identified above into the coaching relationship. Realistically, we all can benefit from having an objective third party journey alongside us during high growth opportunities, difficult seasons, and challenging goals. If you are in the market to explore a coaching relationship, InFocus has a free consultation available – CLICK HERE to find a time that works for you!


Excerpts taken from a podcast created by Mission First – People Always hosted by Dr. Mike Patterson. The entire recording can be accessed HERE



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Accelerate Development, Mine the Gold

Accelerate Development, Mine the Gold

How does coaching accelerate the development of a leader?


Being a coach, it’s easy to see how coaches have an undeniable positive impact on the development of leaders. But how?


Client: When a leader takes action to make progress on an initiative he or she is pioneering, it is a great chance for coaches to maximize a learning opportunity with clients. 

Example: A leader has noticed that he is doing most of the talking when leading his team and not doing as much listening. With his new awareness, he commits to listening more and talking less, asking questions to draw team members in versus dominating the discussion. This is a new way for him to interact, which may feel foreign at first. Over time, however, as the leader practices, he will grow in his ability to listen and ask questions. 

Once a leader has taken action it is important to pause and help them process what they can learn from their experience. This leads into the next phase of the learning process.


Mining the Gold

Now that the leader (your client) has tested out his or her new approach, the coach (you) helps the leader process and reflect on how it went. This helps the leader extract new learnings that are hidden below the surface. I call this “mining the gold.”

It is in this place that true learning can be maximized.

Coach: A coach helps a leader reflect on the way she listened and how it impacted her team. This is where her learning is maximized.  

From the scenario above, the leader’s insights might be: 

      • Better engagement by team members
      • More ownership from the team
      • Greater impact

Move the learning forward!

Once the client clarifies his or her new learning(s), the coach can help the leader take those fresh insights and build on it by moving his/her thoughts forward into new ways of thinking and behaving.

Coach: A coach asks, “How can you move that learning forward?”

Here are some examples of ways the leader could move the learning forward:

      • Before giving input, summarize what team members are saying
      • Ask team members if the summary is accurate and complete
      • To help team members continue their processing, ask, “…Is there more?”

This completes the cycle of accelerating the developmental process. When a coach does this on a regular basis, the pace of change increases. Without a coach this process gets bogged down or stalled unless the leader has already learned the importance of this reflection.

In summary, here is the whole process:

The process of identifying and applying new learnings: moving the learning forward

  1. Take action – the leader commits him/herself to a particular action
  2. Reflect on key insights – the coach helps the leader reflect on key insights
  3. Capture the insight – the coach helps the leader clarify these in behavioral terms
  4. Brainstorm ways to apply – the coach helps the leader identify new insight(s) into new ways of thinking or behaving
  5. Take action – the leader applies the action in a real situation to reinforce the learning

Here are three tips to help you move the learning forward with leaders you coach:

  1. Give leaders the time they need to process their learnings
  2. Don’t interfere by interjecting YOUR insights
  3. Let the client do the heavy lifting (become comfortable with silence)

Most leaders fail to give ample time to reflect due to the busyness of life and ministry.  They don’t believe they can afford the time that’s required to go through the exercise.  When left on their own, chances are they will give in to the “tyranny of the urgent.”

However, leaders can’t afford NOT to adopt this process, as it will eventually and certainly catch up with them (often when they least expect it!). So serve the leaders well that are under your care.


If you want an accurate picture of your competence as a coach, there is no substitute for the 360° Christian Coach Assessment. This online tool is the only assessment for Christian coaches that is backed by thorough qualitative research. It clearly and accurately identifies your coaching strengths and areas for improvement. Learn more HERE.


If you want to participate in a cohort and work on your coaching excellence with a mentor, consider the Coaching Excellence GrowthTrac.

This is what one participant had to say about the experience of working with a coach mentor alongside their 360° Online Christian Coach Assessment:


“When used with the 360° Christian Coach Assessment, a coach mentor can maximize your development as a coach and your impact for the kingdom of God. Training alongside mentoring results in excellent coaches.” – Dennis P


The next cohort will begin in the Spring. To learn more about this unique training opportunity, CLICK HERE.



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5 Ways to Build a Healthy Team Culture

5 Ways to Build a Healthy Team Culture

One of the realities of the last 12-24 months is the challenge of creating a healthy team culture during a pandemic season. I’ve had countless conversations with leaders who have reflected on the ways they have helped their teams navigate this season–some went to more frequent meetings with their teams (even daily) so that team members felt cared for and supported. Two years later, these teams are thriving.

A leader I was speaking to asked how he could more effectively empower his team. His vision is to create a supportive environment while maximizing the potential of each individual as well as the collective group. After wrestling with several potential approaches, he discovered some missing pieces in the culture he had established. Out of this conversation (and others I have navigated with leaders) emerged five ways to build a healthy team culture.

5 Ways to Build a Healthy Team Culture

#1 Clear expectations

#2 Regular communication

#3 Compelling rewards

#4 Real consequences

#5 High Trust

Each of these are significant in themselves, but when implemented together there is a synergistic relationship.

Let’s unpack each one:

#1 Clear expectations

When your team is initially organized, discuss the expectations you have as the leader. Just as important, discuss the expectations members of the team have of you and of one another.  A simple list of “team norms” or operating principles can go a long way in removing ambiguity in the team you are leading.

Clarifying expectations on the front end will help you avoid the conflict and ambiguity that sometimes can erode trust over time. Here are questions to consider in determining team norms:

  • What are the most important ways we can demonstrate respect for each other?
  • What are the non-negotiable commitments we are making to each other?
  • How can we assess the health of our team?

#2 Regular communication

Frequency of communication is a common challenge teams face. Communication often translates into “meetings” which in some organizations suggests a waste of time. Consider also how communication needs to take place: in person, virtually, via e-mail or text, or “as needed”. These are all considerations that should be discussed before problems emerge. I have not come across a one-size fits all approach to communication, but here are some questions to consider in evaluating and implementing regular communication:

  • What issues do we need to stay current on in our team?
  • What is the minimum amount of time we can allow between communication (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly)?
  • What is the best forum for this type of communication (e.g. in person, virtual, e-mail or text)?

#3 Compelling rewards

Rewards can range from fun and simple to more significant. Discussing ways you can reward team members for their achievements can be a motivator for team members. One team leader I worked with rewarded team members by highlighting some outstanding behavior, achievement, or quality in front of their peers. A kind word or personal note goes a long way to affirm the contributions team members make.  Here are questions to ask to identify compelling rewards for your team:

  • What are some meaningful ways you have shown appreciation for your team members?
  • What do you want to reward in your team?
  • How will you reward qualities or achievements?

#4 Real consequences

This might sound like a parenting trait, but setting clear boundaries with felt consequences when a boundary has been ignored or broken is critical to building a high-trust team culture.  Just as important is following through on a consequence when a team member fails to observe the commitment they have made to their teammates. For example, if a person is habitually late and one of the “team norms” is punctuality, the leader needs to enforce a consequence for the impact the tardiness has on the team. The action you take (or fail to take) communicates your commitment to upholding your team norms. Use these reflection questions to help you and your team agree to real consequences:

  • What behaviors will your team not tolerate?
  • What will the consequences be?
  • Are you willing to enforce those?

#5 High trust

Each of the previous 4 aspects of building a healthy team culture relates to trust. The speed at which you can develop trust within a team will determine how fast you are able to move toward your goals. The higher the level of trust, the more you can accelerate your progress as a team toward the vision. Conversely, the lower the trust…well, you get the idea.  Here are a couple of reflection questions to help you reinforce trust with your team:

  • What is the most effective way you have built trust within your team?
  • What has eroded trust?
  • What can you do to increase trust within your team?

In the last 12-24 months, leaders have had to be more intentional in building healthy team cultures. Ignoring these five aspects of a healthy team–or failing to give attention to them–has exposed the cracks in many organizations and churches. The healthier the culture, the stronger the organization.

If you need help or are seeking a guide to help you work through the nuances of leading your team, InFocus is here to help.  To book a free consultation with Gary Reinecke, find a time that works with your schedule – CLICK HERE.



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3 Strategies for Spiritual Guidance

3 Strategies for Spiritual Guidance

This month, we have been discussing how abiding in Christ is the most important of all Christian coaching competencies. What we uncovered in our original research, documented in Christian Coaching Excellence, is that abiding in Christ is the one competency that separates good Christian coaches from great Christian coaches. As we abide in Christ, we help our clients abide in Him, partnering with the Holy Spirit for greater significance in our coaching relationships, life, and ministry effectiveness.

This week I will unpack the fourth of five behavioral expressions that comprise Abiding in Christ:

  • Spiritual guidance: Wisely applying spiritual resources (e.g., prayer, Scripture, spiritual disciplines) to guide the coaching relationship.

Last week we discussed the competency of prayerful preparation – prayer in anticipation of specific coaching sessions for those we coach. We also need to learn to wisely apply spiritual resources during coaching sessions. The common spiritual resources listed above (prayer, Scripture, spiritual disciplines) are not meant to be exhaustive; there are many others to be discovered and utilized in coaching sessions.

The application of spiritual resources allows coaches to be spiritually receptive to what God is doing in a coaching relationship. Sometimes this can mean bringing relevant passages of scripture into the conversation. Other times, it can mean recommending spiritual practices, books or conversations that might be helpful to your client. Relying on spiritual guidance forms a tacit recognition that you don’t expect your client to be able to do everything on their own. They shouldn’t expect that of themselves, either; part of the Christian coaching relationship is helping our clients discover ways to rely on God. 

Here are some suggestions and exercises for growing in the area of spiritual guidance:

Brainstorm possible spiritual resources. It’s best not to have just one or two options, but a whole array of possibilities. The list below is a beginning. What additional options can you think of?

  • A Scripture passage
  • A prayer retreat
  • A book
  • A conversation with someone about spiritual things
  • A spiritual director or mentor
  • A spiritual practice

Consider Barnabas. Looking at the life of Barnabas, what ways do you see him relying on spiritual resources as he supports others?

  • Acts 4:36
  • Acts 9
  • Acts 11:19–25
  • Acts 13:9–12
  • Acts 13:42
  • Acts 13:49–52
  • Acts 15:36–40
  • Acts 16:1–3

Become more aware of and fluent in the spiritual disciplines.

Coaching Tip: Following are seven ways to identify the positive impact of applying the above spiritual resources in your coaching sessions:

  1. Grace when the client is being too hard on themselves.
  2. Forgiveness when the client is in the wrong.
  3. Wisdom when the client lacks insight into a situation.
  4. Energy when the client lacks strength.
  5. Strength when the client wants to give up.
  6. Patience when the client feels overwhelmed.
  7. Confidence when the client is doubtful.

Coaching Excellence

  • Has it been a while since you participated in coach training?
  • Is it time for you to consider an assessment to evaluate your coaching?
  • Are you interested in taking the next step in your coaching development and working with a mentor?  

At Christian Coaching Tools (a platform I co-founded) we launched the Coach Excellence GrowthTrack this year. Our first cohort is underway! This is what one participant had to say about the experience of working with a coach mentor alongside their 360° Online Christian Coach Assessment:


“When used with the 360° Christian Coach Assessment, a coach mentor can maximize your development as a coach and your impact for the kingdom of God. Training alongside mentoring results in excellent coaches.” – Dennis P


The  next round will begin in the Spring. To learn more about this unique training opportunity CLICK HERE.



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