7 Questions to Consider Before You Start Coaching

I’ve been coaching leaders for years. I got started as a coach after experiencing the impact that coaching had in my life. Steve Ogne coached me as I planted a church in Southern California back in 1990. Now I love coaching church planters and helping them to navigate the challenges of getting started.

I like starting. And I like to help others get started. I’m often asked how to get started in coaching so I thought I’d share some of the important things to pay attention to before you start coaching.

7 Questions to Consider Before You Start Coaching

1. What qualifies you to be a coach?

Some people think that the best players will make great coaches. This isn’t necessarily true in sports – and it’s not true in life coaching, business coaching, leadership coaching, or coaching church planters. In fact, I’ve seen that in my niche of church planting, the church planters who have been “most successful” tend to be great mentors but horrible coaches. Why? They tend to tell others what they did and how to do it the way they did, rather than helping a church planter to discover what God is leading them to do in their specific context.

So what qualifies you to coach? It’s who you are on the inside that really matters. It’s the depth of your character. It’s your approach to others. It’s your ability to set aside your ego and your need to be perceived as an expert. It’s the lessons that you’ve learned in life that keep you from thinking you are right about everything. It’s your dedication to serving others.

I would also suggest that being curious, being a learner, being a good listener, being able to ask questions and wait for a response, being able to help others to listen to the Holy Spirit – these are all important qualities that must be evident in good coaches. Competencies can be learned over time, but the character of a coach is critical.Why not make a list of at least 10 things that you think qualify you to coach others; then ask a few leaders if any of those things really matter to them in selecting a coach.

2. What’s your definition of coaching?

This is important for you to know and even memorize. People are going to ask you, “So what is this coaching thing all about?” How will you answer them? And why should anyone spend time in a coaching relationship with you if you can’t clearly articulate the essence of coaching, as well as it’s benefits? I’ve come to appreciate CRM‘s definition: Coaching is an ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.

Not only is it important to have a clear understanding of what coaching is – it’s also necessary to understand what coaching is not. It’s not therapy, counseling, or mentoring. These are all helpful ways to work with people, but they are not coaching. Before you start coaching, be able to articulate the distinctives of different helping roles. (read more: The Power of Coaching – includes several definitions and biblical view of coaching).

3. What’s your coaching approach?

Some people approach coaching as the expert and their job is to tell the coachee what they need to do. Others have a set curriculum that they follow, guiding the coachee to complete pre-determined assignments. I embrace a non-directive approach to coaching. I don’t see myself as the expert on the coachee’s life – they are. My approach is client-focused, non-direcive, transformational, Spirit-sensitive, raising awareness, results oriented, and passionate (read more: The DeVries Coaching Approach). It’s important to identify your approach before you start coaching.

4. What training will you need?

Just calling yourself a coach doesn’t mean you are one. In fact, the ICF 2012 Global Coaching Study revealed that “more than two in five (43%) respondents viewed untrained individuals who called themselves coaches as the main obstacle for coaching.” Don’t think because you attend a one-day or two-day “training event” that you are a trained coach. Most one or two day “training events” provide a solid orientation to coaching, but are unable to help participants to develop core coaching competencies.

The ICF requires all members to complete 60-hours of coach specific training. I’d recommend that you attend the Core Coaching Skills Certificate Program presented by Creative Results Management. After I graduated from this program in 2009, I was more confident and effective in my coaching relationships. Find a coaching training program that will focus on both your skill development and also help you to embrace a biblical coaching mindset.

5. What model will you adopt?

There are many different coaching models to consider. I first was introduced to the G.R.O.W. model and I found it very helpful as I started coaching to follow this model in my coaching appointments. I was also trained in using the 5 Rs and the C.O.A.C.H. model. For the past three years, I have almost exclusively followed the C.O.A.C.H model, yet I choose to be flexible and not rigid in my coaching appointments.

G.R.O.W. Model – (Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore)

  • Goal setting for the session as well as short and long term.
  • Reality checking to explore the current situation.
  • Options and alternative strategies or courses of action.
  • What is to be done, When, by Whom, and the Will to do it.

5 Rs Model – (Coaching 101 by Bob Logan and Sherilyn Carlton)

  • Relate– Establish coaching relationship and agenda
  • Reflect – Discover and explore key issues
  • Refocus – Determine priorities and action steps
  • Resource – Provide support and encouragement
  • Review– Evaluate, celebrate, and revise plans

C.O.A.C.H Model – (The C.O.A.C.H Model by Keith Webb)

  • Connect– Build rapport and trust. Review previous action steps.
  • Outcome – Set the coachee’s agenda for the conversation.
  • Awareness – Encourage discovery, insights, and shifts in perspective.
  • Course – Capture insights and put them into 2-3 actionable steps.
  • Highlights– Ask the coachee to review the conversation.

How will you discover the model that’s right for you?

6. What will you charge, if anything?

You don’t have to charge anyone for your coaching. You can offer it as a ministry to those you coach. Or, you can consider charging whatever they can afford, or a cup of coffee. I have found that coachees that don’t contribute anything to the cost of the coaching tend to be less invested in the relationship. They lack the same level of commitment that paying clients demonstrate.

[For those who desire to be credentialed by the International Coach Federation, be aware that only 25 hours of the 100 hours required to become an Associate Certified Coach can be pro bono coaching hours. (However, the ICF considers any fee exchanged or bartered to qualify as paid hours.)]

7. Who would be best coached by you?

One of the core coaching competencies is establishing trust and intimacy with your clients. While you may have the ability to coach anyone on any topic, that doesn’t mean they should be coached by you. Evaluate the type of people whom you best connect with. Identify your particular niche in coaching. Don’t just say yes to everyone who wants to be coached. Seek to start relationships with coachees who are eager to grow, have clear goals and objectives, and are self-motivated. The better you know yourself, the better you will know who is best coached by you. Don’t hesitate to be selective; this will allow you to serve your clients well.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
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