This post is part of a series on the 9 competencies of an effective coach, taken originally from Developing Coaching Excellence. To see all entries in this series posted so far, you can search “coach competency” on the main page of my blog. 

Coach competency 5 SupportingSupporting means maintaining the health and development of the coaching relationship as it progresses. Coaches can do that by providing encouragement, challenges, accountability, provision for needs, and focus in a clear direction.

During the middle of a coaching relationship, most coaches focus on strategy and accomplishing goals. But excellent coaches recognize that a whole other side needs to be addressed as well in order to coach with optimal effectiveness. Coaches who support well work to find a balance between the relational and strategic sides of coaching. They are careful not to get so focused on the task that they lose sight of the leader’s personal development— they see the whole person and help develop their lives as well as their ministries. Relational support provides a basis for strategic support— it’s no accident that the relational competencies are listed before the strategic competencies.

As a relational competency, the focus of supporting is on helping people personally rather than with planning issues. Take the situation of coaching a church planter. On the strategic side, a coach might explore the question, “What things need to be done in order for this new church to take off?” On the relational, supporting side, a coach might recognize that a lot of ups and downs go along with planting a church and find ways to help stabilize the planter emotionally through those peaks and valleys. The coach might ask, “How can I pray for you in the midst of the challenges you’re facing?”

Supporting means encouraging people as they take on new challenges. Coaches need to recognize that when people are trying to take action, it’s difficult. They need someone to affirm their efforts and encourage them along the way. Good questions to ask include:

  • How can I be more helpful?
  • What kind of support do you need?
  • Who else could be involved in helping you?

Even questions like, “How’s your work impacting your family?” can be helpful as they take into account the whole person, not just the ministry objectives.

Coaching is a holistic endeavor. Sometimes ministries fail because leaders are not supported in other areas. Coaching needs to start well and end well, but what happens in between is just as important. Book-ended between establishing and concluding, supporting focuses on care of the leader as a whole person. Excellent coaches help people on a personal level by encouraging, challenging, and providing accountability.

How can you go about strengthening the coaching competency of supporting in your life?