As someone on the cusp of Medicare eligibility, I am prone to reflect back, with a shudder, upon my many leadership development mistakes.
Not that long ago, I thought if I told others how to accomplish what they wanted to do, they would benefit from my vast wisdom and learn new skills. I thought leadership development was about passing on my accumulated knowledge. As you probably already know, this is a very limiting framework to raise up leaders or pastor volunteers.
While there is an instructional component in leadership development, wise leaders must learn to adapt their approach to drawing out and blessing the leadership gifts already in those they influence.
Potential leaders need to be able to think critically and reflect deeply. They must grow in their ability to ask God about the gifts he has put in them and get clear about what he wants them to do with them. Then, together you can figure out the most realistic steps to carry out God’s desires.
So, how do you utilize a coaching approach to developing others in these abilities? These are my suggestions:
Stop telling and start listening
A mistake we often make when using a coaching approach to develop leaders is we end up coaching the problem instead of the person. What if you focused on the individual rather than their goal or problem? A great way to do this is to practice listening more than telling.
Ask the person about their experiences and only share a few of your own to build their trust rather than convey your story’s content. This helps you to avoid focusing the conversation on yourself, telling them what to do, or spending too much time figuring out what you want to say next.
Ask simple questions
Coaching doesn’t need to be complex. A simple question is a powerful question when asked with genuine care. What if you listened and only asked simple questions like, “Tell me more.” or “What happened next?”.
Find out what God wants them to do
We must trust the Holy Spirit speaks directly to the person about what is best for them – rather than just through you. What if you asked them what the Holy Spirit taught them from their experiences? An example question might be, “So what do you think the Lord is telling you?”.
Ask them what they can do next
As they begin to articulate what God wants them to do, then you can begin to ask them what steps they think they should take next.
They may ask what you think or what you would do. Regardless, your focus should be directing them to resources to help them figure out what to do next.
Leaving a coaching session with at least one practical step they have come up with will help them feel empowered and excited for their leadership journey.
We often think of coaching as a set of skills to be learned and applied to others. Yes, coaching involves skills, but much more importantly, coaching consists of transforming how we think about how to best help develop others. We best equip our potential leaders when we walk alongside them as they learn to hear God’s voice and help them get clear on Holy Spirit inspired steps forward.
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