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