The third area of competence I look for is wisdom and discernment. As you gain more leadership responsibility, the number of people for whom you’re responsible—and consequently the number and type of situations you’ll need to handle—increases exponentially. If the average group leader is responsible for 8 people, and the average coach is responsible for 5 groups, then each coach bears responsibility for 40 people. And while a coach primarily talks with those 5 leaders, they also need to be aware of the issues that the 40 group members are facing. Plus, there are occasional times that a coach will need to talk directly with group members. Coaches need the wisdom to know when to let the leader handle the issue and when to get involved directly.
Frankly, I need to like my coaches. Life is too short for me to pick team members that I don’t like. Plus, they need to be compatible with other coaches and leaders on the team. Some might argue that if a coach has the right character and competency, then it shouldn’t matter whether you’re friends.
My lead pastor, Mark Batterson, has said that he doesn’t want to hire someone who doesn’t laugh at his jokes. It’s not out of pride—he’s one of the most humble men I know. Mark simply doesn’t want people who will fake-laugh at his jokes just because he’s the boss. He wants people who can work with him as a peer and genuinely have fun with him.
I might not be besties with everyone on my team, but if I really don’t get along with someone, or the person messes with the overall team dynamic, it’s not a good match. It doesn’t matter how good a person may seem. Without some chemistry, productivity will suffer, and you’ll see turnover on your team.
For a long time I stopped there, but I recently learned a hard lesson about the need for commitment. You can have upstanding, highly-skilled coaches who you really like, but if they’re not committed, you might as well pack it in. Commitment is important for any endeavor, but it’s especially important for small-group coaches.
The biggest difficulty coaches face is getting leaders to participate in training and coaching. If coaches aren’t committed and engaged, if they’re flaky, if they haven’t bought into the value of coaching, there’s no way their leaders will be engaged.
Committed coaches go the extra mile to accomplish the objective when the first attempt doesn’t work out. They pursue leaders consistently and persistently. They take pride in a job well done.
I’ll take a mediocre coach with amazing commitment over an amazing coach with mediocre commitment every time. If you want to kill your coaching program quickly, recruit uncommitted coaches.
One point of caution: it can be hard to discern whether a potential coach is truly committed. Sometimes potential coaches are excited because they like you. Sometimes they seem eager because they see the need and value of coaching, but they’re already overcommitted or simply aren’t that interested in doing it themselves. When you’re talking with potential coaches, ask them whether coaching is something they’re committed to and excited about or if they’re signing up simply to fill a need or because they were asked. Get to the heart of their real reason for stepping into this role.