August 2009

As I mentioned in my earlier article, I am relatively new to this side of coaching.  Although I have spent a couple of years as a PBC, the experiences of being the one to help guide the discussion are still new and sometimes perplexing to me.  One common and inevitable occurrence that I don’t feel fully prepared for is the ending of a coaching relationship.  Happily, none of my associations to date have ended on a negative note–although I’m sure that time will come.  But just the normal fulfillment of a contract has been surprisingly full of unexpected thoughts and emotions for me.

To begin with, I have formed a connection with the PBC.  Although I may have never laid eyes on the person’s face, I have been privy to some of their deepest thoughts.  We have talked for hours and hours, and I feel invested in their accomplishments.  We may have cried together.  We definitely have laughed.  We have pushed through times of indecision and discouragement.  And we have celebrated both small and gigantic successes.  A bond has formed, and I am sad to let it go.  What will happen to their plans?  Will they follow through on these last steps?  Will they call me again if they get stuck?  I feel like a mother hen sending out her chicks … and worrying about the foxes.

Even harder is the PBC who simply fades away.  He cancels appointments or just doesn’t show.  He may have made some great progress but then suddenly appears to lose interest.  Or it may be that the challenges seem too great or that he doesn’t want to do the work.  But, because he just disappears, I can never really know what happened.  Was it my fault or was he not ready to move?  The lack of closure frustrates and leaves me hanging.

And, finally, how do I evaluate the time I’ve spent?  Did I do all I could to be the best coach for this individual?  I’ve considered various ways to approach this topic:  email an evaluation form, ask during the last few minutes of our final conversation, or just let the experience speak for itself.  Mostly, I have used the second method counting on the PBC to be honest and guiding them to give me the good, bad and ugly truths from their perspectives. But I wonder if writing their responses would allow them more freedom to be open with me.

So … will you give me a hand?  How do you handle the resolution of your coaching relationships?  Do you experience some of the same emotions I’ve mentioned?  How do you deal with the PBC who just fades away?  Or the one who responds negatively to your approach as a coach?  And how do you get the appropriate amount of feedback to insure that you are doing your best work and growing as a coach?  My inquiring and inexperienced mind really wants to know.  And thanks in advance for sharing your experiences with me.


"DOGGONE!" (winning caption)

And the winner is. . . . (and this is totally subjective and “partial”)


Enjoy the glory all day Chuck!


This last Thursday evening was week 4 of a 9 week Women’s Leadership Coaching group that I am leading. Also this last week, the local mega-church held their annual Leadership Summit, complete with all the big names (even Bono for crying out loud – so big he only needs his first name!).

It got me to thinking about the difference between a “coaching” program for leaders and a typical leadership conference. As a leader, I find tons of value in both (and any other type of learning, training venue for leaders). My personal observation and experience is that while a coach approach may offer less “content”, it offers a focus on, well…. focus! A training/teaching venue can flood our mind and imagination with fantastic new and more current ideas and methodology (ever taken a drink of water from a fire hose?) – and all that exciting input puts new fuel in our tank to approach and embrace our leadership roles in more effective and influential ways. With a coach approach, the end goal is to narrow ideas, thoughts, and information in order to promote a few, or a single powerful action.

A coach approach venue is about focus.
A coach approach venue doesn’t deliver content, it delivers a question.
A coach approach venue results in new personal actions.

Another distinction between a leadership conference and a coach approach leadership event is. the former provides resources to the participant — and the latter discovers the resources that already exist within the participant.

What else do you see that a coach approach produces in participants? I’d love to hear even more ideas.

It was one of those ‘aha’ moments you hope for in every coaching conversation. You know… when a truth hits home so hard and you can almost smell the smoke from the new fire that’s been lit? Only this time, the ‘aha’ was mine. Oh, I think my PBC caught a glimpse of it too, but the real learner in that conversation was me.

The conversation was one I’ve had many times. I coach a number of pastors – many of whom have a good bit of experience under their belts. And one theme that emerges with some regularity is the idea of significance. Many are beginning to focus on how they can best spend the remaining 5, 10, or 15 years in ministry to have maximum kingdom impact. They’re looking to end well….to have some significance in the world.

This particular conversation shared that theme and what seemed like a simple, but probing, question yielded a treasure trove of meaning and significant meat on which I’ve been feasting ever since.

In response to a statement by my PBC, I asked him “So what is the difference between being rewarded for what you do, and what you do being rewarding?” At first I wondered if the question had been heard and understood for it was followed by some extended period of silence. Then slowly, as if in one of those war movies where time almost stops…. the truth of the question hit me like a ton of bricks.

Am I more focused on being rewarded or doing something rewarding?

If I were honest, I’d have to say that at least as much attention is given to the first part as the second. Is that good enough? Does that reflect my values? Is it realistic to shift more of my focus to the second one?

I suspect that my PBC has spent some time wrestling with this since our conversation. I know that I have. How about you?

What would have to change in order for you to focus more on doing things that are rewarding… personally, spiritually rewarding? How will that shift make a difference to those with whom you share life?

Here’s to many more ‘ahas’!