Coaching: Helping Leaders go Further Faster

I was in Palm Springs recently when I had the opportunity to meet with Dave DeVries  of OC US Ministries.  Dave has been a church planter and today coaches church planters around the world.  He has extensive experience as a certificated coach so I asked Dave in this short video to give us some practical insights on coaching those we lead.  You can follow Dave on Twitter @davedv and check out his blog at  Before you push play on the video make sure you get out a pen and paper so you can take notes!

Untitled from Maclake on Vimeo.

5 Minute Leadership Development

While they may not say it out loud, many leaders feel like they don’t have time to develop the people they work with.  This underscores a fundamental misunderstanding of leadership development. Developing leaders doesn’t always necessitate long hours of teaching and instruction

Every day we’re surrounded by small golden opportunities to develop the leaders around us.  But if we aren’t looking we’ll miss them. They come in the form of a short conversation in the hallway, a quick pop in the office Q and A session, or a casual exchange in the middle of a ministry event.  These “teachable moments” can take place every day if we simply take the time to look for them.

So how do we recognize them?  Teachable moments tend to come when someone is struggling with a task, project or person.  These struggles create feelings of fear, anger, frustration, disappointment or discouragement.  And there’s no doubt people are most teachable when they’re experiencing these types of heightened emotions. So when you see their struggle engage their emotions by asking questions that stir thinking.  Ask, listen, then carefully provide the coaching they need to help them get past the barriers they’re facing.  For example ask:  What’s causing your frustration?  What have you done about it so far?  What’s not working?  What are your options?  What’s your next step?  These types of questions help them wrestle through their situation.  Then follow up by asking:  What’s the leadership lesson we can learn from this experience?  In these golden moments of opportunity you identify their challenge, coach them in how to handle it and reinforce a leadership principle, and often times this can all be done in a matter of five minutes.

While I may not be able to remember the specifics of the circumstances I do know it was in emotional moments like these that key leadership principles were branded into my mind.

This Weeks Leadership Challenge:  Look for and sieze one of these 5 minute  teachable moments with someone you lead.

Making Coaching Work with Eric Metcalf

I had the opportunity recently to sit down with Eric Metalf and talk about Small Group Coaching.  Eric is the Small Groups Director at Christian Community Church, a multisite church with eleven different campuses.  Eric was also recently named the director of the New Thing Network.  CCC is an amazing church where Lead Pastor Dave Ferguson has built a rich leadership development culture where multiplication has become a part of their DNA. In this video Eric shares some of the things he has learned about making small group coaching work.

New Resource for Small Group Coaches

I’ve spent this weeks posts expressing the importance of the role of the Small Group Coach.  While it’s an extremely important position there seems to be a shortage of resources for coaches.  That’s why I teamed up with Doug Franklin and Leadertreks to create a tool for small group coaches. Growing Small Group Leaders not only provides tools for small group coaches but also provides a system for coaches to follow.  In this very practical manual you will find a Style Assessment that help coaches discover their leadership style so they can lead with their strengths and be aware of their weaknesses.  This resource, which emphasizes the coaches role in caring for the souls of small group leaders, instructs coaches how to conduct one on ones, leader huddles and group visits.  growingsmallgroupleaders_sm

This manual also includes six coaches huddles with topics such as:

  • Characteristics of a healthy small group
  • Building spiritual friendships
  • Developing your leadership confidence
  • And more.

All of the worksheets, handouts, and assessment are provided not only in the manual but also on a CD so you can make reproducible copies for your leaders.  We hope this resource will be a useful tool in your small group tool box and help you develop more effective small group leaders for your church.   We’re excited about the response to this resource, Doug informed me that it’s the #1 selling resource in this months Leadertreks catalog.  If you’re interested in Growing Small Group Leaders Leadertreks is offering my blog readers a 10% discount, just enter the code Mac10 when you order.

What other resources do you think are needed for small group coaches?

Help Your Coaches be Successful

As we have discussed this week the role of small group coach is extremely important, yet very challenging. So our job as Pastors or Directors is to do all we can to help them be successful. I want to pass along 5 tips for helping coaches be more effective.

1.  Give them encouragement. My guess is most of us are already doing this. Meet with your coaches’ one on one, meet with them in groups (huddles), and communicate with them regularly. Catch them doing things right and praise them for it. The way we lead and encourage our coaches should model exactly what we want them to do with our small group leaders.

2.  Give them systems. Sometimes we recruit a coach into a position, give them a brief explanation of the role but then expect them to “figure out” the rest. When we fail to provide our coaches with systems they end up doing “whatever seems right in their own eyes” and fall short of our expectations. Our small group coach training at Seacoast offers systems for how to lead a huddle, how to conduct a one on one and how to visit a group. We provide specific systems that have been proven to work again and again.

3.  Give them training. Initial training is good, but ongoing training is great. Huddle with your coaches frequently and facilitate discussion around the skills or the spirit of leadership. Give them the opportunity to learn from each other by allowing them to share the challenges and successes they are experiencing as a coach.

4.  Give them empowerment. I have seen well meaning pastors step in and provide leadership for a small group leader. When we do this it undermines the coaches relationship with that leader. When a leader comes to you for help refer them to their coach. This is a great opportunity to pass along some of your credibility to the coach of that leader.

5.  Give them tools. I think this is a missing element in small group coaching today. This is why I was excited when Doug Franklin at Leadertreks asked me to partner with them to provide a practical tool for Small Group Coaches. This past week we released Growing Small Group Leaders, a one year program for Coaches. This resource provides an assessment for coaches to discover their Coaching Style, personal evaluation guides and growth guides for coaches and instructions on how to fulfill the key roles of a coach. It also includes a one year planning calendar, worksheets for one on ones and six coaches huddles the coach can use with his or her small group leaders. In addition this manual comes with a CD so you can make reproducible copies of all the materials in the manual. So this is a tool you can share with your coaches and use it again and again.

What are other things you do to help your small group coaches be successful?

Let’s Redefine Small Group Coaching

As you could tell from yesterday’s post I wholeheartedly believe in the small group coaching system.  Well, let me clarify that –  I believe in it when it has the correct focus. 

Last year at Seacoast Church I was meeting with the Small Group Directors of our various campuses to evaluate our small group ministry.  That day we agreed we were making a mistake with how we were utilizing our small group coaches.  We were placing too much emphasis on collecting rosters, distributing information and trouble shooting and not enough emphasis on spiritual care of leaders. 

So we gathered 80 of our existing coaches and apologized.  We told them that we had looked among the 10,000 attenders of Seacoast and had personally selected them to serve as a small group coach. We told them we had selected them because of their maturity, their leadership abilities, their love for Christ, and their love for small groups.  But then confessed that we had been using them primarily in an administrative role rather than a spiritual role.  So that day we gave them a new Job Description:  A small group coach cares for the souls of 3-5 small group leaders.

After explaining this new emphasis we invited Mindy Caliguire from Soul Care to speak to our coaches about how to care for their own souls as well as the souls of other leaders.  We didn’t want to just declare this new emphasis but wanted to provide training in how to actually do it.  That day our leaders left with a renewed sense of empowerment and significance.  One of the coaches came to me a week later and said, “I never realized how important my role was to the spiritual health of this church.”  He got it!

I think it’s time to reinstate the significance of the Small Group Coach.  Coaches are needed to care for, love on, and encourage our small group leaders.  Every leader I know gets discouraged, fights temptation, experiences frustrations so it only makes sense to have someone dedicated to helping our small group leaders fight the good fight. 

Check back tomorrow as I give a couple of practical examples of how coaches have cared for the soul of some of our leaders.

What are you doing to help provide spiritual care for your small group leaders?

Three Movements in Small Group Coaching

Healthy structures are essential for healthy leadership.  I’ll be one of the first ones to admit that building and maintaining a small group coaching structure is difficult.  But I don’t believe moving away from a healthy coaching structure is the answer. There seems to be three movements away from the traditional coaching approach,while I don’t agree with any of these approaches I think we can learn something about improving the traditional model of small group coaching by taking a look at each. 

Hired Gun Approach

In this approach the church reasons that the role of the coach is too much for a lay person to do as a volunteer, therefore they hire directors to work 10 hours a week to oversee and manage around 20-30 small group leaders.  While paying someone seems like a great way to bring greater accountability for results, the truth is, the span of care is too large to provide the quality of spiritual oversight needed by group leaders. 

Remove the Middle Man Approach

The churches that are taking this approach are “firing” their coaches and ask their full time staff to oversee anywhere from 50-70 small group leaders.  While a staff member may have 40-50 hours a week dedicated to ministry, with a span of care this large it’s difficult to have meaningful relationships.  The staff member may be able to have monthly contact with each individual but the quality of care would primarily be on a superficial level. 

Call Me if You need Me Approach

Churches that take the “Call me if you need me approach” are sticking with the title of Coach but asking coaches to oversee anywhere from 20-30 small group leaders.  Instead of taking a proactive role, they serve in more of a reactive role with their small group leaders.  Group leaders are informed that they have a coach and can call on them if they have questions or have any difficulties with their group.  With this approach coaches are serving primarily as a resource rather than providing a relationship. 

Three Lessons

I still believe the traditional model which calls for a coach to oversee three to five small group leaders is still the best approach for small group coaching.  But looking at why people are abandoning the coaching model and seeing what they are replacing it with can teach us a few things.  Here are three essential lessons for any  small group coaching structure.

  1. Provide and maintain a span of care that is reasonable and realistic for your coaches
  2. Make the role less about resourcing and more about relationship
  3. Raise the level of significance of the role by emphasizing spiritual care of leaders

All this week I will be focusing my posts on the struggles and solutions of small group coaching. 

What struggles do you have with small group coaching at your church?