Are you thinking about working with a Coach? Perhaps you have read an article featuring the many benefits to Coaching. Or, maybe someone in your congregation or at the denominational headquarters suggested that a Coach might be helpful for you at this stage of your ministry. Whatever the reason, welcome!
I’m writing this article in order to provide you with ways you can maximize the benefits of a Coaching relationship. This advice will help give you a more positive Coaching experience, allow you to achieve quicker and more satisfying results, and even save you some time and money.
While Executive Coaching is becoming a standard in the business world, many Professional Church Workers are unfamiliar with the many benefits of Coaching. So, let’s start at the beginning: What is Coaching?
Answer: Coaching is a specialized relationship designed to help you find clarity and skills needed in making positive changes in your life and in the systems with which you are connected. More succinctly: Coaching helps you become a better “you”! Coaching empowers, fosters personal and professional growth leading to discovery of important breakthroughs that will help you achieve a more satisfying and productive ministry and life.
Although similar to other leadership disciplines, Coaching is unique and specific. Coaching is NOT:
- Consulting. A consultant is the “expert” in solving a particular problem or the giving of specific advice. Consultants focus on issues and problems in an organization. A Coach focuses on the individual being coached not on the organizational issues.
- Counseling. Counseling typically deals with psychological needs a person might have. A counselor often attempts to understand a person’s past and diagnose maladaptive thinking and behaviors. A Coach works with emotionally strong people and focuses on empowering the individual toward self-discovery and action.
- Mentoring. Mentors are also experts who’s experience and wisdom is transferred to the one being mentored as they learn to do what the mentor does. A Coach recognizes that the one being coached is the expert about themselves. The coach seeks to draw out strengths, skills, and abilities the client already possesses (or utilizes client strengths and passion to acquire what’s needed) to become what the client decides they want to be (or do what the client is called to do).
There are other things Coaching is “not” but those are the ones most often confused with Coaching. To summarize: The coaching relationship recognizes expertise of the one being coached; the Coach’s role is to facilitate discovery, empower, and work together toward achieving client-driven goals.
Maximizing Time with your Coach
Know the reason for the meet’n
If you are the one that contacted the Coach, you likely know why you called. Sometimes, however, the client has been referred by a supervisor, denominational leader, their Board, or other entity; for those who didn’t set up the appointment, it is especially important that you know how to make the best use of your time (and expense) of having a Coach.
Remember, a Coach doesn’t solve the issues you are having, they coach you so that you are empowered to determine your own future. (Who needs someone else telling you what to do? Answer: No one!) You are the expert in “you”; it’s just that you might be “stuck” or need a thought partner or you are too close to an issue (or person) to see a clear path. Whereas Coaching isn’t rocket science, it is a discipline; Coaching utilizes unique skills and ways of thinking. That discipline and way of thinking can be transferred to you!
Here are some helpful questions to consider as you prepare for Coaching:
- What is frustrating your progress right now?
- What discomfort are you experiencing?
- What issues keep coming up at work? (or home or school or . . .)
- What would you prefer to see happen?
- How would you like to feel in your situation?
- What changes would you like to see take place?
- What obstacles are preventing you from making necessary changes now?
- What needs to change in your life?
- What needs to change in how you feel about your situation?
Your first meeting with your Coach will be a discovery session. Like any relationship, time is needed to get to know one another. During your first session, your Coach will seek to understand you and your situation. The Coach will want to know who you are as a person, what motivates you, and what issues concern you. Don’t expect instant answers; a relationship takes time.
Too often people are looking for a technical answer to an adaptive problem. Technical questions can be easily answered, for example: “How much will it cost to build this building?” The answer can be calculated. An adaptive issue is: “How do I motivate this class of teenagers?” There’s no “one” answer and every good answer you will find will begin with, “Well. . . it depends. . .”
Coaching deals with adaptive challenges and it will take time, energy, and some hard work to accomplish your objectives.
To maximize time with your Coach, you and your Coach can begin to prioritize your objectives and goals. The questions listed above are broad and general. Your Coach will help you take one issue at a time. If at any time you have new information, new insight, or desire a new direction, that will be important to share with your Coach. Since the goal of your Coach is to help you succeed, any issues you find important that need to be discussed ought to be brought up during your session.
Ultimately, YOU drive the Coaching sessions. Prior to your session, think through what YOU want to accomplish, what questions you want to discuss, what goals you want to pursue. Coaching is about you, for you, and depends on you for success. A good Coach might suggest a path and will, when appropriate, even challenge new thinking, but you are the expert on “you.” Your Coach is the expert on bringing out the BEST from you.
Often your Coach takes notes during the coaching session. As a Coach, I take notes so that I can map your progress toward your stated objectives and so I can be prepared for each session. By writing a few bullet points during or directly after each coaching session, you will be able to track your progress toward your objectives. Writing can also help make sure you make forward movement between sessions and give a you greater sense of accomplishment. One of the major goals of coaching is to help you become skilled at coaching yourself; writing notes will help fulfil that goal.
Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before!
Aside from ripping the Star Trek theme, it’s important to remember that coaching is about YOU becoming a better you. You don’t need to impress your coach just like you don’t need to impress your family physician. The Coach, like the physician, is there to help you discover and maintain your own success objectives. If you secretly want to become Teacher of the Year, say it out loud; let’s work on this together; let’s make a plan. There’s nothing wrong with ambition and working toward high-level achievement!
It’s Up To You To Be A New You
The Coach cannot, no matter how great they might be, make your life what you want it to be. Only you can know what you want to accomplish and only you can take the necessary steps toward success. Your Coach will encourage you, help you think more creatively and completely, and will help you formulate winning strategies. But you are in the driver’s seat; you decide the destination, the route, speed, and stops along the way. Your Coach will help you navigate and decide and help keep you focused on your life’s goals.
By understanding these basics, your Coaching sessions will be much more productive and you will be well on your way to accomplishing your objectives and living a more fruitful and enjoyable life. If you have other suggestions on how to make Coaching more effective, please share your thoughts. I can be reached via my personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or via my cell number, 909-255-1054.
Blessings in Christ,