Coaching And Leadership Development
In knitting, the central thread is the one that runs through everything else, holding all the rest together. When that thread is pulled, the whole fabric starts coming unraveled. In leadership development, coaching is that central thread: without coaching all the rest of our efforts will continue to unravel: the classes, the books, the meetings. No matter how well we do them, they don’t work.
Like the sweater that comes unraveled, our leadership development attempts have failed and we’re left trying to figure out why. The lack of coaching is the why.
Without coaching, you’re not going to develop the kind of leaders you want or get the results you want. If you want . . .
- to develop the person as well as accomplish the task, you need coaching.
- to develop leaders from the ground up rather than just importing them, you need coaching.
- to create not just a few more leaders by addition, but a multiplying movement of leaders, you need coaching.
- to develop leaders who can think in terms of principles, you need coaching.
- to achieve consistent results, you need coaching.
Coaching is the lacking ingredient in most attempts at leadership development—it’s what has been missing.
Coaching is the intentional process of coming alongside a person to give them focused attention. Coaching helps them discern where they are, where God wants them to go, and what the next steps are toward getting there. This focused attention helps people in the accomplishment of their ministry and also helps them grow in their personal development.
We can try to develop leaders without coaching, but we end up short-circuiting the process and don’t accomplish what we want to accomplish.
What happens when we try to do leadership development without coaching?
Leadership development that doesn’t work:
- One-size-fits-all: we cannot approach leadership development with an assembly line mentality
- Aiming too low: our passion for leadership development can’t be institutional survival
- Trying to teach people to swim in a classroom: people need hands-on ministry experience in order to learn
- Quick fix mentality: a lack of willingness to commit to ongoing development rather than a one-time fix
- Impersonal resourcing: we give people and orientation, a few books, and say “go, be warmed and filled”
Leadership development that does work:
People learn best when they….
- have someone to come alongside them
- engage experientially through on-the-job training
- can focus on both life and ministry skills
- take time to reflect on their experiences
- receive a consistent investment of time and energy over the long haul
Moving toward a different plan
If coaching is what’s needed, how does that impact what we’re doing? We must think about leadership development in new ways: relational ways, with coaching at the center.
- We need to invest time in developing leaders.
- We need to develop people both personally and in their ministry.
- We need to develop enough coaches so all leaders have coaches.
- We need to shift the focus from maintaining existing programs to proactively developing new leaders.
- We have to make a personal investment.
This last point means leaders must model coaching behavior.
Effective pastors and denominational leaders invest at least 20% of their time in coaching leaders. If that’s not the case for us, it likely means we’re either spending too much time pushing papers or too much time doing all the work of the ministry ourselves. So the question becomes, “Who am I coaching? Who am I intentionally developing?” In many cases, we’re not getting what we want because we’re not putting in the necessary investment ourselves.
If coaching is truly the central thread of leadership development—the one piece without which nothing else holds together—you’ll need a lot of coaches. You’ll need more than just you; you can’t do it alone. You’ll need to be intentional about raising and multiplying quality coaches within your ministry. The more people we empower to coach, the more people can be empowered to bring in the harvest. The growth is exponential. Therefore it is not only coaching, but the number of people coaching, that holds the key to unlocking the church’s harvesting potential.
When you think leadership development, think coaching. And think about the kind of leaders Jesus wanted to produce—leaders from the harvest, for the harvest.
Whatever you do, put coaching at the core. If you are willing to provide the consistent investment of time and energy required to come alongside leaders to help them grow, the return on that investment will be phenomenal. Like compounding interest, your efforts will have a multiplying effect that makes a difference well beyond the walls of the church.
Let’s get serious about leadership development and use the coaching investment so that the church can do what Jesus intended it to do.
If you’re serious about change, I want to hear from you.
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