by Whaid Rose

A mentee of mine now has a professional coach at his disposal, compliments of the large high-tech company he works for. He didn’t ask for a coach; he was assigned one. And so were everyone else in his division.

At face value, providing a career coach to its employees is this company’s way of acknowledging the toll the Pandemic has taken on everyone and offering support.

But there’s more behind this strategic move. Beyond responding to the impact of the Pandemic, it is driven by an awareness of the relationship between coaching and the overall success of its employees.

According to Ken Blanchard, bestselling author of The One Minute Manager, “Providing feedback is the most cost-effective strategy for improving performance and instilling satisfaction.”

Coaching the Leaders Who Will Shape the Future

I came across this quote in Andy Stanley’s book, Next Generation Leader: Five Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future.

Stanley has become an authority on such matters due to his proven success as a pastor and communicator. So, it is of no small interest to me that coaching made his short list of essentials for future-shaping leaders.

Early in that chapter Stanley makes this bold assertion: “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you can be. We all do better when somebody is watching and evaluating” (p. 104).

To those who assume they’ll automatically get better over time—that age and experience is all it takes, Stanley offers this counsel: “Age and experience don’t necessarily make us better. Age and experience tend to leave us in a rut, doing the same thing the same way with no one around to spur us on toward change” (p. 105).

Great Athletes and Teams Always Need a Coach

That’s why great athletes and great teams never perform their way out of needing a coach, and that’s why leaders, especially those in the Christian arena, should take stock.

We tend to think that once our gifts and callings have been identified and we step into a leadership role, we don’t need outside help. But such a notion is miss-guided, to say the least. Probe deep and you’ll discover that every successful leader has had one or two people who aided their success.

To help us understand the role of a leadership coach, Stanley compares coaching to three familiar disciplines (quotes taken from page 108):

  • Counseling— “the job of a counselor is to help an individual resolve issues of the past in order to operate more effectively in the present.”
  • Consulting— “a consultant is typically engaged for a short time in order to solve a specific problem.”
  • Mentoring— “a mentor is usually an older and more experienced person who provides advice and support to a younger, less experienced individual in a particular field.”

A Coach Proactively Provides Input and Evaluation

Unlike a counselor, a coach helps us “assess the present so that we can operate more effectively in the future.” Unlike consulting, coaching focuses on “performance enhancement”—not problem solving. And unlike the typical mentor who waits to be asked for advice, a coach is proactive in providing input and evaluation.

It is for these reasons that Artios Christian College recently offered a coaching course, and why leadership coaching is part of the framework for the Artios Center.

Yes, the Artios Center for Vibrant Leadership offers coaching services, provided by a trained and credentialed coach! The vision is to make coaching a normal part of our leadership culture over the next few years.

And now that an expert in pastoral ministry and leadership has ranked coaching near the top of essentials for cutting edge leadership, only two questions remain for each of us: Do you have a leadership coach? If not, what are you waiting for?

How Do You Select a Good Coach?

How to go about selecting a good coach? Andy Stanley offers a selection summary at the end of the chapter (p. 127): Make the decision; find someone to observe you in a variety of leadership settings; “find a coach who has no axe to grind and no reason to be anything else but brutally honest with you”; find someone who can articulate his thoughts with clarity and precision; the goal is to eventually become a coach yourself. “As we learn to do by doing, we learn to accept by giving.”

Whatever you do, here’s the bottom line according to Pastor Andy Stanley: “To be the best next generation leader you can be, you must enlist the help of others. Self-evaluation is helpful, but evaluation from someone else is essential. You need a leadership coach.”

The good news is that there’s no shortage of coaches. There’s a coach for everyone! Don’t lead without yours.