When are you a supervisor and when are you a coach?

boss mug

In many cases where you are the supervisor, you may want to take a coaching posture as much as possible. However, a coaching posture requires that the person you’re coaching is the one who sets the agenda. The agenda they set may or not be most strategic for accomplishing the goals you want them to accomplish as their supervisor.

Here’s a rule of thumb: if you find yourself trying to steer the conversation during coaching times, that means you probably haven’t completed the supervisor work of making sure they know what they need to achieve and how they will be evaluated. Too often we aren’t clear enough about what results we want people to get. Then when we try to coach them, they meander.

Looking for multiple confirmations

I taught at a Vineyard conference recently and I noticed their practice of looking for multiple confirmations.  They’re not looking for just one person to say, “Hey, I think we should do x, y, or z.” They’re looking for multiple indicators pointing in the same direction. They’re praying, discerning what God may be up to, paying attention to what they’re sensing, and taking note if they’re hearing similar ideas from different quarters. Using all of these elements, they put the pieces together of what God is calling them to do.

Agenda harmony

As you plant a church, you need to help people understand what it means to follow Jesus based on the DNA you disciple into them. Obviously, this is harder with people who have previous church experience than with those who come to faith through your ministry.

Sometimes planters are so desperate for people to join their church that they embrace people who don’t share their values. It’s the same mistake an engaged person might make, “After we get married, I’ll change them.” And then they don’t change. Don’t bring people in knowing that they don’t share your values. You need agenda harmony.

When you see someone off balance

When you are in the role of a pastor/shepherd, and you see someone off-balance in their life, how directive should you be? This is an issue I am continuing to think through. I’ve realized that as I decide when to step in and when to step back, I’m operating intuitively in this area.

Yet as you know, doing something intuitively doesn’t allow you to pass that skill along to others. So I am trying to think through the rhythms and balances of shepherding responsibilities. As people are learning to walk, how much freedom is good? How much direction is good? What’s the minimum amount of structure they need in order to grow? When do you speak into a person’s life and how?

The key to leadership development…

… is knowing what you’re trying to accomplish. If you want to develop leaders—and know that you’re being successful in that endeavor—you need to get more concrete and specific about what you’re aiming for. What does a leader look like? How do you know if you have one? A good map isn’t helpful unless you know your destination.

Take time to reflect on these three questions:

• What are you trying to produce?

• What’s the process for figuring that out?

• How do you make sure it’s linked in with your values?

You just never know…

Years ago when I was teaching a class, one of my students had a friend in town and he asked if his friend and the friend’s wife could sit in on my class that afternoon. I said sure. Just recently I saw that student again and he said, “What you did during that time completely revolutionized their entire ministry. They got a new paradigm for the way they served.”

I of course had no idea what I had taught on that day—or what they had heard—but sometimes God just seems to work that way.  You just never know when you have a conversation that can change the entire trajectory of someone’s life and ministry.

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