Equipping Leaders: Observations From Three Coaching Relationships

By Shelley Cochrane

Shelley CochraneI have had the distinct privilege of coaching three ministry leaders in recent months: two men and one woman, all forty-something, all in new leadership roles in their organizations. Two of the organizations are large and structured; one is a new start-up. The two men are seasoned leaders who are changing fields; the woman has not previously served in a leadership role.

At the onset of the relationship we identified the content to be covered in our conversations along with timeframes and deliverables to measure the results. What I did not account for, however, is how enriched I would be from sharing their experience along the way.

Observation #1
Two of the ministries share their new leaders with another organization. These leaders divide their time between two job descriptions and supervisors and two organizational structures and cultures. Costs are shared. Everyone is satisfied with the arrangements.

Observation #2
All three ministries see the benefit of providing a coach for the person they deem the right fit.  The person did not have the applicable expertise when he or she started but the coaching content was customized to fit each situation. Get the right person and then ramp ‘em up.

Observation #3
All three organizations value innovation and take appropriate risks in order to accomplish their mission. They would rather face some ups and downs while their new leaders ramp up than miss out on lost opportunity from holding back.

Observation #4
All three leaders display flexibility, creativity, and initiative at accomplishing their goals in fluid, ambiguous contexts. They are not the profile of a traditional worker who needs everything neatly structured and wants the perks of an outfitted office and lunchroom where the coffee is always on. These leaders are productive wherever they land on a day.


Take-aways
Productive leaders propel organizations forward.  Organizational health boils down to who your leaders are and how well they lead. If you are concerned for the future of your organization, tend to your leaders and provide what they need to succeed.

If you have the right people, commit to ramp them up. Flex the organizational structures to accommodate their productivity.

Examine your assumptions on who has potential-don’t overlook someone who would lead well after she acquires the expertise and coaching to master her role.

Consider the risk tolerance of your organization-you may be forfeiting more opportunity than you realize out of fear of incurring setbacks along the way.

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