Five Shifts to Become a Better Coach: From Conversation to Action

Five Shifts to Become a Better Coach: From Conversation to Action

It’s one thing to discuss the future and the potential steps to take to grow as a person or to achieve goals, but it’s quite another thing entirely to take action from these conversations. As a leadership or ministry coach, you aren’t satisfied with talking about dreams and struggles – you want to support people you coach through an intentional process that moves vision to a reality! When it comes to coaching, our conversation is only as powerful as what it leads us to do. Without taking action your clients’ dreams, their plans, the Holy Spirit’s direction, simply sit dormant as good intentions. But how can you empower your clients to take action? The first step is to partner with God. Tuning into the Holy Spirit’s voice will help you as the coach as well as those you are coaching. 

Goal: The primary emphasis is to help the new disciple or leader discern the voice of the Holy Spirit, acting upon His voice to turn coaching conversations into intentional plans of action. 

Why is it important to turn conversations into action? 

  • Growth is only possible when people take action
  • Progress can only be measured when people take action
  • Celebration is so much more meaningful when a goal or milestone is met!

Adopt a comprehensive coaching process that is spiritually anchored in Christ

Relate: Start an empowering coaching relationship. 

A healthy relationship between coach and client is essential. The client must trust their coach and feel safe enough to be honest and vulnerable. They must know they can count on their coach for wisdom and for support as they take risks. 

Reflect: Dig deep to discern the key issues. 

In order for your clients to know what steps should be taken, it’s important for them to understand the deeper reasons behind their goals. Why are these goals important? What stands in their way? What is God saying to them? 

Refocus: Facilitate holistic plans that will work. 

Even the most well-meaning and passionate dreams will not work without some planning. Is the goal possible? What is needed to make it happen? How will it impact your client’s life should it come to fruition? 

Resource: Leverage what’s needed for effective implementation. 

This is where you can support your client as they begin to gather what they will need to move their good intentions forward: finances, connections, or emotional strength. 

Review: How to build capacity for the ongoing journey. 

Now that the process has begun and action steps are in motion, what is needed to make your client’s work sustainable? What struggles might arise in the future and how do you aid your client in creating safety nets and alternative options for the future of their goals?

Three Mini-Shifts to Turn Conversations into Action:

  • Build a trusting environment. 
  • Make their agenda your agenda and help them clarify their next step. 
  • Engage your clients by helping them tap into their spiritually-directed motivation. 

Real-time Actions:

  • Adopt a simple process that is spiritually anchored in Christ

Reflection Questions: 

  • What happens when your client takes action?
  • What could they do differently to make their actions more effective? 
  • How can you help them hone their action plans? 

Key Question:

  • Where is God prompting you to grow to help your client take action?


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Happy Thanksgiving from InFocus

Happy Thanksgiving from InFocus

As we gather around the table this Thanksgiving, we find ourselves reflecting on the incredible journey we’ve shared with our cherished readers and clients over the past year. In the spirit of thanksgiving, we want to take a moment to express our deepest appreciation for the trust you’ve placed in us and the enriching connections we’ve built together.

Our hearts fill with gratitude as we reflect on the support, love, and encouragement you’ve shown us. We are genuinely thankful for all your love and support and are truly excited to see what God has in store for you.

As we look ahead to the coming year, we extend a heartfelt blessing to each and every one of you. We pray that you find inspiration in every corner, strength in times of challenge, and grace in moments of reflection.

Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Five Shifts to Become a Better Coach: From the Center to Alongside

Five Shifts to Become a Better Coach: From the Center to Alongside

Oftentimes, when we think of leaders, we think of the person in the front of the crowd, the teacher at the white board, the pastor on-stage, the person at the center of the action and making all of the choices. However, practiced leaders know that while a leader occasionally needs to be center stage, there are also times when a leader should step aside and allow for other voices to be heard and for others to step up and take new responsibilities. This is especially true with coaching new disciples and leaders. 

There is the risk that the more you strive to be the expert and remain the source of information, the more likely you are to disempower people – instead of becoming dependent on the Holy Spirit, the new disciple or leader becomes dependent on you. It can be tempting to want to direct them towards what you think they should do, but ultimately, a coach is there to be a gentle guide, not to force their own agenda. A coach needs to follow in the example of Barnabas, working alongside new disciples and leaders rather than controlling them. 

Remember: the primary aim is to take the focus off yourself and place the focus on God. 

Goal: The primary emphasis is to help you move from being the central figure in the conversation to be on the periphery facilitating the conversation.  

Why is it Important to Coach from alongside?

  • Allows your newest disciples and leaders to take more responsibility in their spiritual journey 
  • Promotes more self-awareness 
  • Lets your newest disciples and leaders know that you trust them 
  • Gives you a clearer idea of where they need help and where they are thriving 
  • Easier to sense God’s will when personal agendas are set aside

Three Mini-Shifts to Help to Move alongside:

  • Sacrifice your need to be the center of the conversation and make the other person the focus of the conversation. 
  • Support the other person to discover their next step by facilitate the discovery of a step so that they own it and are committed to it. 
  • Put your assumptions, opinions, and biases in the background by resisting the temptation to make judgements and remain curious.

 Real–time Actions:

  • Determine the best approach to take:
  • Modeling – demonstration of a skill
  • Coaching – facilitating a self-discovery process
  • Releasing – giving responsibility 
  • Mentoring – training in a particular area 

Reflection Questions: 

  • Where do I see opportunities to give away more responsibility? 
  • What personal agendas do I have that might be getting in the way of those I am raising up? 
  • What approach would be the best approach to take at this time? 

Key Question:

How can I resist the temptation to force my agenda and be attuned to the other person’s agenda?

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Five Shifts to Become a Better Coach: Talker to Thinker

Five Shifts to Become a Better Coach: Talker to Thinker

Do people know you as empathetic and caring? Do they feel they are being heard? Do people under your leadership honestly believe you are a great listener? 

Empathy doesn’t come easy to all of us – but there is good news! I want to share a simple shift you can make to become more intentional and effective in your community. Let’s talk about what it takes to move from being a talker to a listener and how to integrate that with a spiritual foundation that empowers you and the people you coach to abide in Christ.

Most leaders natural tendency is to talk rather than listen. As a leader, it can be tempting to always provide an answer, to fill silence with advice or stories, or share every drop of wisdom that has been gained through years of experience. However, as much as new disciples and emerging leaders learn through your experience, they will learn much more through their own experience. Of course, part of being a leader is explaining, sharing and advising, but the best leaders coach people they are developing by  spending more time listening than they do speaking. 

Goal: To help leaders stop speaking and begin to listen. 

Why is it important to listen? 

  • You can only understand the needs of the disciples or leaders you are coaching by creating the space that allows them to share their struggles, ask questions, and process their thoughts/emotions 
  • You create trust by refraining from instructing, judging, or offering advice, and allow the disciples and leaders you are coaching more agency to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes. 
  • You empower the disciples and leaders you are developing to become better listeners themselves through your example. 
  • You create the space that allows your disciples to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly and rely on God’s direction. 
  • You talking gives opportunity for the disciples and leaders you are developing to  “tune-out”
  • You listening redirects the focus from yourself and puts the focus on the other person and ultimately, God!

(c) Gary B Reinecke, 2023 – for use with permission only

3 Mini-shifts to become a better listener:

  • Take the posture of a learner. You must believe that God speaks to the disciples and leaders you coach just as He does to you. 
  • Remain silent. Challenge the disciples and leaders you coach to push their thoughts further by inviting the Holy Spirit to speak. 
  • Be patient. Give the disciples and leaders you coach time to form their own opinions and to arrive at the place God wants to take them.

Real-Time Actions:

  • Summarize. Without interrupting, reiterate the main points of what your disciple has said back to them. This lets them know you understand them and gives them the opportunity to correct you and explain themselves in more depth.
  • Ask the disciple, “Is there more?” After a person shares their thoughts out loud on an issue, see if there is more that they need to process.

Take a moment to reflect on this shift from talking to listening. What new insights do you have about yourself as a coach? 

Reflection Questions: 

  • Do I speak more or listen more? 
  • Do my disciples feel heard by me? 
  • What would my disciple want me to ask them? 

Key Question: How can I ignore my tendency to share my wisdom and seek to listen?

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The Five Steps of Leadership Development

The Five Steps of Leadership Development

Why Coaching?

Guiding someone on their discipleship journey or developing another individual as a leader are opportunities to use basic coaching tools like asking questions, listening, and focusing. Coaching can help people advance and accelerate their development. 

What does Scripture say about coaching?

Ephesians 4:11-12 has a lot to say about coaching! Coaching is a subset of equipping people that bleeds throughout the empowerment process. Think about the processes through which you take a new leader of a small group. If you broke down your equipping process, would it look something like the following?

  • Orientation – discuss the why, what, and how to understand the essentials of leading a small group
  • Apprenticeship – experience a small group while working alongside a small group leader
  • Just-in-Time Training – an apprentice learns the necessary skills by building confidence through on-the-job training
  • Empowerment – less direct supervision becomes less and less important

For maximum impact throughout the equipping process above, a supportive relationship with a coach is absolutely necessary. The trainer might also serve as the coach – however, one without the other is not going to empower the new small group leader. And the more the trainer can lean into a coach approach in their role of trainer, the greater the impact!

Five coaching steps for developing a leader

1. I do. You watch. We talk.

In this leadership development process, I act as the coach and “Jason” acts as the apprentice. The first time we meet, I tell Jason to simply come to small group with me. I will lead the group, and all Jason has to do that first week is just watch me–see how I interact, what I say, what I do, how I lead the material. Then Jason and I are going to talk after that group is done. Maybe it’s a Wednesday night after the kids are in bed, and we go up to the local coffee shop for an hour. 

2. I do. You help. We talk.

In the second step, I’m going to do, Jason is going to help, and we’re still going to talk. In that next small group (or maybe just a couple weeks later),  Jason is going to lead the prayer time and gather the prayer requests. I’m going to make sure that Jason and I meet that week and talk about it. This is Jason’s opportunity to process what he’s learning about leading the group, leading the material, and so on. Leaders are available to and for each other, so for whatever is on his heart or what he’s challenged with, I’m available to him.

Coaching is a subset of equipping that bleeds throughout the empowerment process

3. You do. I help. We talk.

In the third step, Jason does, I help him, and we talk. You see how it’s just starting to switch on us? As time goes on, he’s taking more and more of the responsibility for the group. 

4. You do. I watch. We talk.

In the fourth step, Jason does everything, and I simply watch. And don’t worry – I’ve got his back because I want Jason to succeed. Leaders invest in other people. We want other leaders to win. And we still talk afterward. Never forget that part. It’s really important because leaders are often made over a coffee table.

5. You do. Someone else watches.

Then in the last step, Jason does. But now, he’s the mentor and he has his own apprentice, and the cycle continues on from there.

So what’s the time frame for each of these five steps? It could be as little as a week or as much as a month or more. It’s all about how fast the leader develops, and that process will be unique to each person. 

The Five Steps of Leadership Development is a simple but effective tool that doesn’t overcomplicate leadership development

NOTE: I borrowed The 5 Steps of Leadership Development from Patrick O’Connell who is the Director of NewThing.  He presented the 5 steps in a very clear and helpful manner.  Thank you Patrick.. 

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