This is your guide to learning how to become a coach, growing as a coach, and continually striving to be the best coach you can be. Of course, the process will look a little different for everyone, but most truly great coaches have worked through the steps and stages described below.
The most essential step is an internal one: to become a coach, you need to be fully convinced that coaching is beneficial. That means you know it by experience, not just as a fact. You need to know it and believe it in your bones, in your blood. Until you’re convinced of the intrinsic value of coaching, you’ll never be a great coach. That passion for coaching is contagious; it rubs off on others. Even if someone doesn’t select you as their coach, you still encourage them toward coaching—because they need it and because you want to see them accomplish all God has called them toward.
To be fully convinced that coaching is beneficial, you will need to have experienced its transforming power in your own life. There’s a significant difference between knowing by fact (oida in Greek) and knowing by experience (gnosis in Greek). Unless you have first-hand experience of someone coming alongside you as a coach, you won’t truly grasp its benefits in such a way that you can embody it for others.
- Have you ever been coached?
- What was the experience like?
- If not, who do you know that might be able to coach you?
Learn by observing
In addition to being on the receiving end of coaching to experience its power on a personal level, the next most important step to becoming a great coach is to observe it. Get permission to observe someone coaching (with appropriate confidentiality in place, of course), and pay close attention to the details. What are you seeing? What did the coach do that you didn’t expect? Take notes and then debrief those observations afterwards with the coach. Ask questions. Why did they make the choices they did? What were they thinking? What were they trying to accomplish? There’s nothing quite like seeing coaching done by a master-level coach and then debriefing that experience with them.
- Who do you know that is a great coach?
- What is your primary learning objective as you observe?
- How can you maximize the opportunity to learn while observing?
Commit to being coached long-term
Every leader needs a coach, and every coach needs a coach. If you are truly convinced of the power of coaching, you’ll want a coach of your own to help us through your journey. Even when you have years of experience and know the skills backwards and forwards, you can still benefit greatly by having someone listen to you well, reflect back what they are hearing, and ask good questions that sharpen your thinking. No matter who you are or how much experience you have, you’ll still need a coach to walk alongside you personally in the journey ahead.
- Who are the coaches you might like to be coached by?
- What strengths and weaknesses do they each bring?
- Which name is God bringing to the surface?
Become familiar with coaching
Because the journey toward becoming a great coach isn’t necessarily linear or programmatic, we all engage these steps in different orders. Some personally experience the power of coaching before they begin learning about it. Others read a book about coaching that sparks a desire for personal experience. In whatever sequence of events people become familiar with coaching, an important step in the process is to be a bit of study on the subject. This familiarization is often done through blogs, podcasts, books, or webinars. Below are links to just a few of many, many options. Select an approach that will work well for you.
- Independent study
- Basic reading – Becoming Barnabas
- Podcast by Michael Bungay Stanier
- What are the best coaching resources you have at your disposal?
- Which resource fits your learning style best?
- Identify the resource you want to explore further.
Connect with a coach mentor
An experienced coach mentor can guide you effectively along the path to becoming a great coach. They know what the coach development process can look like and are likely familiar with a vast array of resources. Like a surgeon, they will know how to use the right tools at the right time for the right purpose. Depending on your specific goals, they can guide your coach development process, creating a more customized, more personalized path for you to travel as you maximize your growth.
- Where do you need to grow as a coach?
- What are you looking for in a coach mentor?
- Who do you know that could serve as a good coach mentor?
Entry-level training to become a coach
There’s more than one type of training: Entry-level training and more intensive training. To learn to be a great coach, both are helpful, but it’s best to start with some entry-level training… something that provides a basic orientation or overview. This type of training provides a way to wade gradually into the water, so to speak. It’s a way of learning the basics and beginning to get a feel for coaching. Often entry-level training can be done alongside a coach mentor, who can customize the experience. For instance, Barnabas Ministry Training is a more personalized, paced approach where you can apply skills as you go, taking the material in bite-sized chunks. With this basic structure, you can practice skills like discovery listening and asking good questions, sharpening them as you grow in them. It’s a bit like attending some Bible studies in order to learn and apply the basics of following Jesus before going to seminary. This stage of learning to become a coach often yields rapid growth, as opposed to the more fine-tuning of skills as you go forward.
- Where are you in your coach development?
- What are your options for coach training?
- Which one best fits your needs?
Intensive study or more structured coach training
This stage is where many people begin in their journey toward becoming a coach. But starting here is like deciding to get a lifeguarding certification before learning to swim. However, once you have already experienced and received coaching, gotten some coaching experience, and learned some of the basics of how to coach… then this is your step to the next level. This is where you’ll read the bigger books, the comprehensive skills manuals. This is where you’ll attend the multi-day training events that result in certifications and endorsements. The only caution we’ll add here is to choose carefully. There are many coach training programs out there, and many are good. Just be sure that if you want to focus on Christian coaching—a competent coaching model with a truly integrated spiritual connection—you’ll want to make sure you select a coach training program that is anchored solidly in Christ.
- What formal training have you had in coaching?
- Where are the gaps in your coach development?
- What is the best next step for you in your coach development??
Begin the journey toward excellence
What about after the official training? Next it’s time to see how well that training worked. How effectively have you been able to put the skills you have learned into practice? This is where assessment comes in. Although self-assessment can be a helpful first step, and allowing your coach mentor to observe you and provide feedback can be a helpful second step, there’s no real substitute for a full 360° coach assessment. Combining multiple perspectives on your coaching and covering every coaching competency and behavioral expression, a full inventory will provide the most robust and accurate data on where you currently are as a coach. In fact, we recommend engaging in a cycle of taking an assessment at least once a year, selecting some specific areas to improve, and then retaking the assessment the following year to chart progress and identify new areas for growth. The resulting cycle of ongoing growth can last throughout your coaching career.
Here are the steps involved in your journey of ongoing growth:
ASSESS: Where are you now?
AFFIRM: What can you celebrate?
GROWTH POINT: What needs to change?
ACTION PLAN: How can you practice and reinforce it?
IMPLEMENT: What are you doing differently?
AFTER-ACTION REVIEW: How did that work for you?
FOLLOW-UP: What’s next in your journey?
Christian Coaching Tools Resources for Ongoing Growth
- The 360° Christian Coach Assessment- This online tool is the only assessment for Christian coaches that is backed by thorough qualitative research. It clearly and accurately identifies your coaching strengths and areas for improvement.
- Christian Coaching Excellence- This book introduces you to a pathway to raise your effectiveness as a coach. In addition, there are steps for growth in each of the competencies and behavioral expressions.
- Coaching Excellence GrowthTrack– A cohort for continuing coach education. A unique combination of assessment, one-on-one coach mentoring, and group webinars structured to maximize your growth and effectiveness as a coach.
- How have you received feedback on your coaching?
- What is your readiness to engage in your journey of ongoing growth?
- What formal assessments have you taken to gauge your coaching effectiveness?
Begin to train others
Once you have reached a basic level of coaching competence as measured by an assessment (a score of 50 is average, but true competence is more likely at 55 or above), it’s time to start training others. You never learn something as well as you do when you teach it. By beginning to train others and guide them through the process of ongoing growth as a coach, you can continue to sharpen and improve your own skill set. Serve as a coach mentor, provide feedback on other people’s coaching, guide a new coach through the Becoming Barnabas coach orientation. All of these things help you grow at the same time as you help others grow.
- Who is approaching you to learn how to coach?
- What do you sense the God saying to you about raising up other coaches?
- How confident are you at this stage in your development to train other coaches?
Commit to life-long learning
The thing about becoming a coach is that you’re never really finished. Like being a disciple of Jesus, you never fully arrive but need to keep growing and learning over whole course of your life. That means even after 30 years of coaching experience, you’re still reading about coaching, learning about coaching, and taking coach assessments to evaluate where you are and where you still need to grow. You’re still practicing skills and learning new ways to apply those skills. Once you stop growing, you die. How much better to commit to an ongoing life-long learning process?
- Where are you in your journey of ongoing growth?
- How motivated are you to grow in your coaching?
- What skills do you want to growth in?
Multiply a movement
After committing to life-long learning as a coach, are you done yet? Not quite. You have the opportunity to be part of something even bigger: a multiplying movement of developing coaches. This stage is for those who are already very good or excellent in their coaching skills, and have a desire to not only train others but to raise up and multiply generations of new coaches. At this level, you’ll want to explore a licensed process that you can use over and over again to develop and raise up generations of coaches in a multiplying process that will outlast your own individual coaching career.
Imagine your organization with a whole host of coaches, who then raise up more coaches, who then raise up more coaches… all committed to the furthering of the mission of Jesus. That’s where you see the real legacy of coaching.
- What do you want your legacy to be as a coach?
- In what ways can you multiply your impact?
- What are your next steps?
Last Chance for the Winter 2022 Session of the Coaching Excellence GrowthTrack!
Coaching excellence is built through continual growth. Whether you have been coaching for a year or 20 years, this cohort will help you identify key areas for your development as a coach and establish clear steps to refine your coaching practice. The result will be an increase in effectiveness and greater results. Certified Master Coach Dr. Gary Reinecke and Christian Coaching Pioneer Dr. Bob Logan are partnering to bring you the Coaching Excellence GrowthTrack.
Our goal is to make this the best 10 CCEU’s you can get! Learn more at ChristianCoachingTools.com.
Hurry! This cohort closes on January 31st—Register today!
Looking for a coach mentor to help you identify the best next steps for you in your coaching journey? Want to start a coaching culture or movement within your organization? We would love to hear from you! Contact us.
- Top Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash
- Mid Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash
- Last Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash
- Cover Photo Photo by Grant Ritchie on Unsplash