Sparks grinding wheel while knife sharpening

As an aspect of leadership thinking, trends have always fascinated me. For example, throughout the 1990s and 2000s, there were a number of business leadership perspectives that found their way into the church and/or faith-based world. Over the last 10-15 years, we’ve also seen leadership principles within the church find their way into secular industries.

Coaching, a leadership tool that fits within this crossover concept, has transcended through time with little pushback. In the Word, it’s called discipleship – a difficult term to use outside of the Church. As leaders, we find ourselves in a coaching position through instruction, directed actions, and even in our example as we respond to constant demands and pressures.

Many individuals want a professional leadership coach and it can be accomplished in both structured and unstructured environments. The key, of course, is for the recipient to be teachable. This is not rocket science, but here are five helpful points to look for:

1. Are they inquisitive and open to new ideas?
2. Do they have a mindset for continuous improvement?
3. Do they listen well and request honest feedback?
4. When new experiences and opportunities happen, are they well received?
5. Do they put feedback, especially feedback they don’t want to hear, into actionable steps?

The responses go a long way in helping to judge how successfully any coaching efforts would be received. There’s a big difference between wanting a leadership coach and actually putting the work in to improve. Real leadership coaching is not a “check the box” or a one-time event. I’m not sure who said it first, but “for iron to sharpen iron, there has to be a few sparks.”

As leadership coaches, we do well to learn from Jesus, who speaks and models coaching and discipleship better than anyone else. There is no question that, as Christian leaders, we honor and glorify Him with our thoughtful and effective coaching.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2).

Steve Trader
GTC President / CEO

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