What’s in your tool box?,

Successful people often use a Coach to help them be more successful.  This is certainly true of athletes such as Tiger Woods and most professional athletes.  Professional actors, singers, musicians all have coaches.  It is also true that most business executives and leaders have coaches.  Coaching is not just for those that are perceived to have a need.  Some of the most successful people in our society have coaches, even when they are at the top of their organizations.  Coaching is a part of their “toolbox”.

Religious organizations seem to have been slower than most in recognizing the value of coaching as a tool to improve individual and group effectiveness.  However, as I speak with my peers from other denominations, I am finding a higher level of interest in coaching and the presence of formal coaching initiatives.  We can speculate on a number of reasons why coaching has been slow to catch on – one being the cost of employing a professional coach and the perceived value.

Coaching was introduced to the clergy within the Diocese just over 18 months ago.  Since then 9 members of the clergy have been going through intensive training to become certified coaches as resources within the Diocese.  Coaching is done strictly on a confidential basis.

What is professional coaching?
The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:

  • Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve
  • Encourage client self-discovery
  • Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
  • Hold the client responsible and accountable

This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.

How can you determine if coaching is right for you?
To determine whether you or your church could benefit from coaching, start by summarizing what you would expect to accomplish in coaching. When an individual or church has a fairly clear idea of the desired outcome, a coaching partnership can be a useful tool for developing a strategy for how to achieve that outcome with greater ease.

Since coaching is a partnership, ask yourself whether collaboration, other viewpoints, and new perspectives are valued. Also, ask yourself whether you or your church is ready to devote the time and the energy to making real changes. If the answer is yes, then coaching may be a beneficial way to grow and develop. 

How is coaching distinct from other service professions?
Professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change. Sometimes it’s helpful to understand coaching by distinguishing it from other personal or organizational support professions.

  • Therapy: Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with the present in more emotionally healthy ways. Coaching, on the other hand, supports personal and professional growth based on self-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is future focused. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphases in a coaching relationship are on action, accountability, and follow through.
  • Consulting: Individuals or organizations retain consultants for their expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions. With coaching, the assumption is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.
  • Mentoring: A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. Mentoring may include advising, counseling and coaching. The coaching process does not include advising or counseling, and focuses instead on individuals or groups setting and reaching their own objectives.
  • Training: Training programs are based on objectives set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the individual or team being coached, with guidance provided by the coach. Training also assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum.
  • Athletic Development: Though sports metaphors are often used, professional coaching is different from sports coaching. The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs the behavior of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge. Professional coaches possess these qualities, but their experience and knowledge of the individual or team determines the direction. Additionally, professional coaching, unlike athletic development, does not focus on behaviors that are being executed poorly or incorrectly. Instead, the focus is on identifying opportunity for development based on individual strengths and capabilities.

What are some typical reasons someone might work with a coach?
An individual or team might choose to work with a coach for many reasons, including but not limited to the following:

  • Something urgent, compelling or exciting is at stake (a challenge, stretch goal or opportunity)
  • A gap exists in knowledge, skills, confidence or resources
  • A desire to accelerate results
  • A lack of clarity with choices to be made
  • Success has started to become problematic
  • Work and life are out of balance, creating unwanted consequences
  • Core strengths need to be identified, along with how best to leverage them


What has caused the tremendous growth in the coaching industry?
Coaching has grown significantly for many reasons, among them:

  • Rapid changes are taking place in the external environment.
  • Churches can no longer carry the Gospel to their communities using traditional approaches.
  • With the rapid changes, comes the need for people with new and different skills.  An investment in coaching is an investment in training people to deal with change.
  • The disparity between what clergy and church leaders were trained to do and what their jobs now require of them is widening due to increasing demands of our communities.
  • People are wrestling with job and personal insecurity and increased pressures to perform at higher levels than ever before.
  • Churches must develop inclusive, collaborative environments to achieve strategic goals and to maintain high levels of commitment and energy.
  • Individuals who have experienced the excellent results of coaching are talking to more people about it.
  • People today are more open to the idea of being in charge of their own lives. Coaching helps them do just that.

In short, coaching helps individuals and churches focus on what matters most in life, and so the demand for professional coaches continues to grow.

For more information on Coaching within the Diocese of Georgia contact Walter Hobgood at 229-630-6444 or one of our other coaches:  The Revs. Tar Drazdowski, Billy Alford , Buck Lea,  Joan Killian, Bill Stewart, Denise Ronn, Marcia McRae, and Deacon Ri Lamb.

The following is a short video introduction to the Coaching Initiative in the Diocese of Georgia:

 

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