Enhancing Your Internal Coaching Capacity

by Linda Miller

Sitting on the plane after the coach training class she’d just attended, Kris was excited about what she had learned and was looking forward to the upcoming coaching sessions.

Sitting on the plane after the coach training class she’d just attended, Kris was excited about what she had learned and was looking forward to the upcoming coaching sessions. She knew that the focus of the follow-up coaching would be to apply what she’d been learning, which was exactly what she wanted to do. As the first and only coach within Christian Leaders International, Kris knew that coaching could help leaders at a variety of levels in North America and elsewhere. She couldn’t wait to get started. On Wednesday morning, she called her coach. After a brief greeting, Nick said, “I assume the training was good and that you’re ready for the coaching?” Kris was pleased to hear Nick get right into the coaching. “The training was just what I needed, and now I’m ready to figure out how to bring coaching into Christian Leaders International. That’s what I want to focus on.”

“Where do you want to start?” he asked. Kris thought for a moment  and then stated, “There are two things on my mind. First, I want to figure out how to get our leaders’ buy-in with coaching. Second, I want to develop other coaches at CLI.” Nick responded, “You’ve just laid out two different areas to talk about. Where to first?”

“Let’s start with developing other coaches. I want to identify three to five people who can coach our leaders. As those leaders learn from their coaching experience, they’ll coach others within their areas and countries. But how do I determine who the best coaches will be?”

“As you think about selecting coaches, what qualities or competencies are most important for the coaching you want them to do?”

Kris thought for a moment. “They need to develop credibility, trust, and rapport quickly with whomever they coach,” she said. “I realized how important this was in the class. I also want them to be able to use a variety of communication skills with ease, according to the needs, the style, and the pace of the other person. One person in class only asked questions during one of the skill practices, and it felt like I was being interrogated, so a variety of skills is important.”

“Kris, you’ve already started your list. What else are you looking for in internal coaches?”

“I think feedback is really important. I want coaches who can give timely and relevant feedback to move people forward. They also need to be able to receive feedback. I experienced the value of good feedback and learning last week. One person kept defending herself when feedback was given. I want coaches who are open to receiving and giving feedback.”

“Before we move forward, Kris, anything else with the coaches?”

Kris thought for a minute and then burst out laughing. “Oh! I can’t believe I didn’t say this first. I want coaches who rely on God’s leading and his direction. We’re a ministry, so coaches need to listen to the Lord, praying and asking him for wisdom and discernment when coaching their leaders. That’s probably most important.”

Nick chuckled with Kris. “Nicely said. Where do we go next, Kris?”

“Let’s talk about getting buy-in. I know that everything we do must be aligned with CLI’s mission and values. I’d like to think through what’s needed for leaders to want to be coached.”

Even though Kris couldn’t see it, Nick nodded. It was obvious to him that Kris had put a lot of thought into what she wanted to do at CLI. “As you think about CLI, what will help leaders buy in and be interested in coaching, Kris?”

“Well, like I said, coaching has to be linked to our mission and values, which includes helping leaders to be more effective. I think coaching can help all of our leaders to do that. I also think we need to be clear that coaching is about development, not about performance. So many of our leaders are afraid that when we talk with them, it means they’re doing something wrong. Coaching is about leadership development versus performance.  Clear messages about that would be good.”

“You’ve just identified two different areas: alignment of coaching with CLI’s values and mission, and that coaching is about development. What else will help your leaders buy in to coaching?”

“I think it would be great to identify leaders who are influential and who would be willing to be coached. If they have a good experience, they could tell others about it, which helps us to get more leaders involved.”

“They could definitely be helpful in spreading the word. Other ideas?”

“Yes, I think we need to find out what success looks like with coaching at CLI,” Kris said. “As a ministry, we aren’t good at measuring success. So, let’s knock their socks off!  Maybe we could define what success is and how we’ll measure it. I’ll start thinking about that and see what we can do. I also want to bring others into this process. I can’t do this one alone.”

Nick found himself nodding again. “Bringing others into this discussion will give you much better information and will create buy-in because they’re contributing. Nice thinking, Kris.  Where to now?”
“Just a minute. I need to take a couple of notes. I want to remember this!”

Nick waited a minute before speaking again. “We have about fifteen minutes left today. Where do you want to go next?”

Kris liked what was happening and knew that she wouldn’t be planning like this on her own. With only a few remaining minutes, Kris knew exactly what to discuss next. “Let’s talk about how to develop the coaches. We’ve already talked about the qualities. Now let’s talk about how to get them up to speed.”
Even though Nick wasn’t expecting Kris to go in this direction, he followed her lead. “What’s your thinking about this?”

“I know training is a must! I enjoyed the trainers from last week. I’d also like to look at other options to ensure that the training and trainers are a good fit with CLI. What I’d really love is to do the training myself. Maybe down the road I can do that. So I’ll look at companies that would let me deliver the training when I’m ready. That will reduce the cost of having to bring outside facilitators into CLI in the future.”

“You have lots of options with the training, Kris, and you’re being thorough in looking around before you settle down. What other ideas are you considering for training the coaches?”

Kris thought about the training she had just been through. One of the reasons she had selected it was because the training included more than the training days. After the training, each participant was assigned a professional coach to anchor the learnings and be sure they were being applied as soon as possible. Kris wanted the other coaches to have the same experience.

An idea began to percolate Kris’ thinking. What if she could do the follow-up coaching after CLI trainings? That would be a great way for her to practice what she was learning and develop the other coaches.  

Nick liked the idea, too. “So the coaches are trained, and then they’re coached by you. This helps them and it helps you, because it gives you a way to practice your own coaching. Then what?”

“Hmmm. What if after the training, the other coaches are assigned leaders to coach. We’ll have to decide the optimum number of leaders for each coach. Another idea would be some kind of continuous learning. After the first group of internal coaches is trained and is starting to coach, I want us all to have a place to share the learning and deepening our understanding of coaching. I’d like to see us set up some coaching forums, possibly once every quarter, where all of us can come together and learn from each other.”

“Wow, Kris! Think about what you’ve just done! In the past fifty minutes, you’ve talked about identifying coaches, training the coaches, forums for ongoing learning, and some of the things that will help leaders to buy into being coached. As you think about all of this, what actions will you take to make this happen at CLI?”

Kris thought for a minute. “First, I want to talk with one of our leaders who knows about coaching and is an advocate for it. I want to share with him some of the things we’ve been talking about.”
Nick responded, “By when do you want to talk with him?”

“I want to pray about this before I talk with him, and I’ll talk with him by the end of the month.”
“Ok. What other actions will you take?”

Kris was writing as she spoke. “I want to formalize some of the things we’ve identified so that I have something to show others. Then, I want to talk with other ministry leaders at CLI to get their ideas and buy in. While I’m talking with others, I’ll be aware of who comes to mind as coaches. When I find someone, I’ll talk with the person about coaching and invite people where there might be a natural fit. That’s enough for now.”

Nick knew it was time to close off the call. “It definitely is, Kris! One thing I might add, with your permission.” Nick heard Kris concur. “Decide a time when you want to have the initial group of internal coaches identified so you can get the training process started. Ok?”

“Absolutely. Thanks, Nick.”

“We only have about five minutes left. This was our first coaching call. Before we end, I’d like to know what would make our coaching time more effective for you.”

“This was great, Nick. I really liked that we moved forward, that you’re helping me to think about some of these things. One thing that might help is that when we’re on a topic, let’s identify actions before we move on rather than leaving that part until the end. I can always change the actions, and I think it will help me to talk them through in small sections.”

Nick grimaced because he had sensed that he should be asking about actions as they went along. “Absolutely, Kris. Thanks so much for your honesty. Anything else before we end our call?”

“Nope. This was great. I’ll talk with you in two weeks.”

As Nick set the phone down, he smiled. While the call seemed productive for Kris, her comment at the end was a great reminder that everyone learns when coaching takes place, the person being coached, and the coach.


Natural Coaching Style
•  Uses a variety of communication skills with ease and confidence
•  Is able to build trust and rapport quickly and easily
•  Maintains confidentiality
•  Keeps the focus on important content and goals
•  Flexes personal style to the style and pace of others
•  Is open to multiple perspectives and viewpoints
•  Encourages people to identify options
•  Recognizes the role of the Holy Spirit when coaching

Best Practices with Internal Coaching
•  Align internal coaching with organization’s mission, values, and competencies
•  Identify key influencers and early adopters who believe in coaching and are willing to share about it
•  Position coaching around development, not performance
•  Be intentional with internal communications
•  Decide how you will measure the success 

Ideas for Coaching Forums and Continued Learning
•   Share “wins” and challenging situations (while maintaining confidentiality)
•   Identify what has worked well with coaching
•   Talk about maintaining momentum
•   Discuss ideas to enrich the coaching experience
•   Link coaching with feedback
•   Talk about how people can extend their coaching or how to end coaching well


The Mission Exchange provides a series of learning initiatives for church and mission leaders. If you have the ability to talk on the phone and access the Internet at the same time, you have all the technology you need to join a webinar! 2010 upcoming webinars include:

January 7: Enhancing Your Internal Coaching Capacity. Linda Miller, global liaison for coaching, The Ken Blanchard Associates; and Gail Davis, director of member development, OMS.

January 21: Helping Churches in Missions: What Do They Need and Want? Bruce Camp, founder and president, DualReach.

January 28: Eight Myths and Mistakes to Avoid in Raising Personal Support: Back to Basics. Ellis Goldstein, director of ministry partner development, Campus Crusade for Christ, International; with Kevin DiFilece and Scott Morton, The Navigators.

February 4: Missions Generosity: Our Generous Past May Provide Clues for Future Development. Scott Preissler, director of the Center for Biblical Stewardship, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

February 25: Evaluating Your Organization’s Website. Sherri Heintz Kerr, president, Cahoots Communications.

March11: The State of the Gospel—2010.  Jason Mandryk, Operation World.

March 18: Leadership Succession Planning: Key to Long-term Success. Dick Wynn, chief of staff, Northland, A Church Distributed, Longwood, Florida.

March 25: Children and Missions: Moving from Education to Action! Jill Harris Jordan, teacher and mobilizer, KidZana.

Register for the webinars at: www.TheMissionExchange.org/learninginitiatives For those unable to participate, webinars are also recorded.

Linda Miller, the global liaison for coaching for The Ken Blanchard Companies, serves as the executive coach and coach training consultant for the Professional Services Network of The Mission Exchange. She is a master certified coach and a pioneer in coaching within organizations and within the Christian community. Linda is the co-author of two books, Coaching for Christian Leaders and Coaching in Organizations: Best Coaching Practices.

Copyright  © 2010 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS. 

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