“Great coaches help their leaders develop both as persons and leaders.” So says Joel Comiskey in lesson six of “Coach: Empower Others to Effectively Lead a Small Group,” which I am currently going through with our coaches at National Community Church.
Comiskey’s sixth lesson is on development, which he characterizes as a “life-long process of helping a person mature and grow,” as opposed to the short-term process of training.
Toward that end, his focus is on a coach’s need to resource their leaders, equipping them with what they need to succeed. That, of course, entails discovering what they need, and he highlights several things to be on the lookout for — discouragement, knowledge deficiency, personal difficulties, hidden sin, rebellion, and small group member difficulties. As a coach, it’s vital to be knowledgeable and well-informed so you can point leaders to websites, books, articles, conferences, small groups, or other resources they may find beneficial.
Comiskey also notes the importance of “resourcing” in the moment through listening and prayer when a leader shares a deep struggle with you, as well as following up to remind a leader when they need encouragement to follow through with something they’ve committed to.
I often tell our coaches that, when a leader wants a form of mentoring or accountability they aren’t equipped to provide, their job is help the leader find it. That may include coaching them through the process of establishing those relationships, but it also involves resourcing them — pointing them to places where they can find what they need. That may mean directing them to Celebrate Recovery or the C.S. Lewis Institute Fellows Program or encouraging them to join a particular small group where you know members are transparent and vulnerable. As a coach, the more you can be aware of such options, the better equipped you will be to resource your leaders with whatever they need.
I’m going through Joel Comiskey’s “Coach: Empower Others to Effectively Lead a Small Group” with our coaches and we’re on the fifth lesson – serve.
Focusing on servant-leadership, Comiskey writes about the importance of becoming a friend to your leader and encouraging them well. As he states, “Relational authority is the most important type of authority that you can wield.”
He reminds us that we need to make it clear to our leaders that our care for them is not dependent on their performance. While they (and we) are called to bear fruit, doing so is a process that takes time. Supporting them through that process is part of our job, but toward that end our foremost task is to be praying that the Holy Spirit builds the maturity in them that they need.
Comiskey also states that our effectiveness as coaches can be evaluated by whether our leaders’ needs are being met. And the best way to determine that? Ask them! He starts his coaching process by telling his leaders he’ll be asking for feedback so that he’s better able to serve them. Which then takes us back to lesson four — listen!