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The COACH Model

Compiled by Chuck Olson


Title: The COACH Model: Powerful Leadership Skills to Solve Problems, Reach Goals, and Develop Others

Author: Keith E. Webb

Copyright Date: 2012

If you are leader who places a high price tag on the development of other leaders, then create some space to read The COACH Model: Powerful Leadership Skills to Solve Problems, Reach Goals, and Develop Othersby author and leadership consultant Keith Webb. Defining coaching as “an ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling,” Webb provides a very thoughtful, easy-to-follow construct for the coaching process. Personally speaking, this book has added several valuable tools to my coaching toolkit.

Take a look at these Book Notes to get a taste of the highly practical insights that Webb provides.

Signature Chuck

Book Description:

Do you have the leadership skills you need to solve problems, reach goals, and develop others?

The COACH Model® is a radically different approach to leading people. Rather than provide answers, leaders ask questions to draw out what God has already put into others. Learn how to create powerful conversations to assist others to solve their own problems, reach goals, and develop leadership skills in the process.

Whether you are working with employees, teenagers, or a colleague living in another city, you’ll find powerful tools and techniques you need to increase your leadership effectiveness.

The COACH Model for Christian Leaders is packed with stories and illustrations that bring the principles and practice to life. Based on first-hand experience and taught around the world, this book will transform your conversations into powerful learning and results.

Book Quotes:

I have a serious illness. It afflicts many without regard to education, economics or ethnicity. PhDs as well as factory workers suffer from it. It evenly afflicts those of every region—Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and North & South America. People of faith are not immune. In fact, they may have a slightly higher rate of infection, but not by much. Sometimes those with no faith at all can exhibit the strongest symptoms of the illness. There are those who say the illness doesn’t exist—or if it does, it only exists in others. It’s called know-it-all-ism. Know-it-all-ism affects the ability of the mind to take in information and process it without prejudice. The illness causes those afflicted to be blinded to opinions, answers, and solutions other than their own. LOCATION: 106

Coaching involves listening to others, asking questions to deepen thinking, allowing others to find their own solutions, and doing it all in a way that makes people feel empowered and responsible enough to take action. LOCATION: 140

I learned two things about leadership responsibility: 1) It is not my responsibility to change others. The Holy Spirit can and will do it on His own—maybe with me but often without me. 2) It is not my responsibility to correct everything that I think is out of sync with Scripture, company policy, or best practices. The Spirit may choose to use me in this regard, or He may have other means or different timing in mind. LOCATION: 174

Coaching is an ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling. LOCATION: 234

Every conversation is expected to produce Spirit-led discoveries, insights, and action steps. LOCATION: 239

Coaches help people to become what God would have them become (Ephesians 1:4, 5), and to do what God would have them do (Ephesians 2:10). LOCATION: 252

Throughout the coaching process, the coach seeks to help the coachee clarify what God is saying to him or her, and assist them in discerning what it means to live that out. LOCATION: 255

A basic and Biblical assumption is that God is already at work in the life of the person we are coaching. LOCATION: 265

To coach well, it is helpful to distinguish between Process and Content. The Content of a coaching conversation includes the topic of the conversation, facts, information, ideas, and commitments. The Process includes how the coach and coachee go about discussing and working with the Content. LOCATION: 288

The coach does not provide Content: the information, ideas, or recommendations. In coaching, the coach focuses almost entirely on the Process, drawing out nearly all the Content from within the coachee. LOCATION: 293

My schools, university, and seminary have trained me to teach, propose ideas, and find solutions. All Content. So when someone brings a problem to me, my first impulse is to share my ideas on how to solve it. I was trained to provide answers (Content), not to help people find their own solutions (Process). LOCATION: 299

The power of coaching is in the Process. A coach empowers others by helping them to self-discover, gain clarity and awareness, as well as by drawing Content from them. A good coach helps draw out what the Holy Spirit has put in. LOCATION: 327

You don’t have to have answers for other people, you simply assist them in thinking about their situation and allow the Holy Spirit to work through your questions and their answers. LOCATION: 331

The COACH Model follows a pattern that has proven to produce successful, holistic, and empowering conversations. It harnesses the power of the Action-Reflection Cycle and creates a flexible conversation guide that allows the coachee to reach significant milestones that produce insight, learning, and responsible forward movement. LOCATION: 389

The COACH Model is pure Process. The Content, the destination and discoveries along the way are determined completely by the person being coached. Many people find that this model gives them the confidence to coach anyone through whatever it is that they want to work on. It’s important to remember that coaching isn’t about providing answers, it’s about asking thoughtful questions. LOCATION: 402

  1. C is for connect:Connect has two parts. First, connecting with the person you are talking with to build rapport and trust; and second, following-up on action steps from your previous coaching conversation.
  2. O is for outcome:Outcome is the intended result the coachee would like to achieve during the conversation. Knowing the outcome at the beginning helps focus the conversation on that which is important to the coachee.
  3. A is for awareness:Awareness is a reflective dialogue intended to produce discoveries, insights, and increased perspective for the coachee. The more perspective the coachee has, the more holistically, and therefore creatively he or she will view his or her situation. The coachee will see a greater number of options and, in the end, will make better decisions.
  4. C is for course:Course puts feet to insights and discoveries by helping the coachee create action steps. Helping people move into action is an essential part of the coaching experience.
  5. H is for highlights:Highlights focus on reviewing the parts of the conversation that the coachee found most meaningful. As the coachee reviews the conversation, he reinforces his insights and important points thus strengthening his learning. Highlights also reveal to the coach how the coachee benefited from the conversation. LOCATION: 408-417

The first step of the COACH Model is to Connect. The purpose of connecting is to begin the coaching conversation on an informal and personal note that helps to re-establish rapport since the previous conversation. LOCATION: 423

A coaching approach builds trust by:

  • Supporting rather than controlling
  • Encouraging ideas rather than sharing them
  • Yielding responsibility rather than taking it
  • Processing decisions rather than making them
  • Believing in the person rather than trying to fix them
  • Keeping appointments and honoring confidentiality. LOCATION: 449

The purpose of engaging is to reestablish rapport, catch up a bit, and leave space for the person being coached to share whatever is on his or her mind. We don’t want to be mechanical in our conversation, but rather we want to be open, caring, and holistic. When provided with an opportunity to go “off task” and talk about whatever they want, people will share about all sorts of things, often bringing closure to things that have been on their minds, and allowing them to fully focus on the rest of the coaching appointment. LOCATION: 483

After Connect comes Outcome. After this short relational connection and follow-up of action steps, it is time to move into the current conversation and find out what the coachee wants to work on and what result they would like to achieve by the end of the conversation. By beginning with the end in mind, both the coach and the coachee can move forward with confidence and focus. LOCATION: 532

A clear destination, or Outcome, is one of the distinguishing features of coaching and one that makes the conversation intentional. LOCATION: 540

Clarity is often accompanied by hope, which is a powerful motivator. Napoleon Bonaparte defined a leader as “a dealer in hope.” By clarifying the outcome of coaching conversations, a coach helps instill a sense of hope and confidence in the coachee. LOCATION: 554

Example Outcome Questions: What result would you like to take away from our conversation? What would you like to work on? What would make today’s conversation meaningful for you? LOCATION: 608

Asking the coachee for his or her desired outcome and then using exploring, clarifying, and focusing questions to sharpen the topic will ensure that you are working on what is most important and meaningful for the coachee. LOCATION: 727

Discoveries—insights both large and small—are a fundamental part of the coaching experience, and are the ultimate goal of the Awareness step. LOCATION: 735

Coaching takes a different approach. The focus is not on new information or knowledge, but rather on a new perspective. A shift in perspective—seeing what we already “know” with new eyes—can lead to the discovery of new roads. A narrow perspective tends to limit thinking. The more perspective, the more accurately a person will see his or her situation. LOCATION: 766

Coaches use questions as a primary tool in working with others. Questions help stimulate thinking, broaden perspective, and generate new options for actions. LOCATION: 784

Coaches stimulate or even provoke reflection with questions that cause coachees to think more deeply than they could on their own. LOCATION: 798

Powerful questions come from profound listening and engagement with a person. What makes a question powerful is its ability to provoke reflection in the other person. LOCATION: 817

Powerful questions are for the benefit of the other person. Not the asker. Questions are based on the other person’s agenda, not the coach’s. LOCATION: 824

Coachee-focused question: What would excellent resolution of this conflict look like? LOCATION: 834

Powerful questions are forward-moving not backward-looking. LOCATION: 835

Powerful questions stimulate discovery toward action and do not subtly attempt to correct the coachee. LOCATION: 850

Angles are different perspectives from which to discuss a situation.

  1. Relational: What are the relational dynamics?
  2. Background: Step back for a moment, what are the underlying issues?
  3. Spiritual: From a spiritual perspective what do you see?
  4. Culture: How might culture play a part in this situation?
  5. Personality: How might personality (yours or others’) be influencing things?
  6. Financial: If money weren’t an issue, how would that change things?
  7. Emotion: What role are emotions playing in this situation?
  8. Intuition: What is your gut telling you?
  9. Information: What additional information do you need?
  10. People: Who might be able to give you a different perspective?
  11. Organizational: How might your organizational structure be influencing things?
  12. Environment: What things around you are holding you back?
  13. Community: In what ways is your community impacting you?
  14. Values: Which of your values are you trying to honor in this situation?
  15. Calling: What parts of this connects to your calling?
  16. Spouse: What does your spouse think about this?
  17. Family: How is your family being affected in this situation?
  18. Employer: Where does your boss fit in?
  19. Experience: How have you handled this in the past?
  20. Priority: How important is this to you?
  21. Motivation: What would overcoming this situation do for you personally?
  22. Loss: What do you have to give up to move forward?
  23. Time: What difference would it make if you had 3 days/months/years?
  24. Energy: Which parts of this give you energy?
  25. Jesus: What would Jesus do? LOCATION: 954

Coaching action steps is relatively easy if the Awareness stage was done well. Ideas for action naturally flow from new perspectives and awareness. Coaches help people create action steps using the conversational skills of active listening and powerful questions. The coach is responsible for the process of generating action steps, but not for giving action steps or “homework” to the coachee. LOCATION: 1046

Coaches use active listening and powerful questions to help people explore their own hearts and reflect on their situations. LOCATION: 1055

There are three elements that, if included in the action step, will help the coachee be more successful in accomplishing them.

  • Simple enough to complete, yet significant enough to build momentum
  • Moves the coachee toward their goal
  • Doable before the next coaching conversation. LOCATION: 1090

First, an action step should be described as a single, identifiable action that is small and simple enough to complete, yet significant enough to build momentum. LOCATION: 1095

What ideas do you have? How else might you approach this problem? LOCATION: 1137

What will you commit to doing before our next coaching conversation? LOCATION: 1144

Our brain continues to develop into adulthood, and has the capacity to grow and rewire itself throughout our lives. This ability is called “neuroplasticity.” Each time you think, do, or say something, your brain sends a signal along a neural pathway. The more signals that travel along a particular pathway, the stronger that pathway becomes. Literally, we build our brains by repeating things. This is the science behind the saying that to create a new habit you must do something 16 times. The trouble is that new neural pathways are weak, and what’s worse, our brain tends to default to older, stronger pathways that we might not want to use. It takes some mental effort to force our brains to use the new pathway. As a neural pathway is strengthened, it is easier to remember our new learning and live it out. Summarizing learning and then sharing it with others cements the learning, rewiring our brains in the process. LOCATION: 1409

But, coaching is about drawing out, not putting in. It is our job to draw out what the coachee learned and found valuable, not what we think was valuable. LOCATION: 1430

What do you want to remember from today’s conversation? What awareness do you have now that you didn’t before? LOCATION: 1435

I recognize the tremendous amount of effort you put into that. You did it! You accomplished exactly as you set out to do. LOCATION: 1484

What progress did you make on your action steps? This question, like an onion, has many layers to it. On the surface it’s quite positive. Progress is assumed, and that projects a positive belief in the coachee’s ability to act. It says, “I believe in you.” LOCATION: 1511

A simple model for following-up on action steps is: What? So What? Now What? This model allows you to naturally explore to find out what the coachee did, didn’t do, and the result (What?). From there, the model encourages deeper reflection for the purpose of discovering the lessons to be learned from those actions and results (So What?). And finishes by extending that learning into other areas of the coachee’s life (Now What?). Plus, it’s easy to remember, and that counts for a lot when you are in the moment with someone. LOCATION: 1524

Below are some key questions: How can you extend the learning? Where else could you apply what you’ve learned? How do you want to do things differently in the future? LOCATION: 1597

The process of following-up on failed or incomplete action steps is similar to the pattern of What? So What? Now What? The key to following-up on incomplete action steps is not to move too quickly towards correcting what didn’t work, but rather, taking time to review any forward progress. It’s important to find and reinforce all forward movement before diagnosing and fixing what didn’t work. LOCATION: 162

Note: should you wish to find any quote in its original context, the Kindle “location” is provided after each entry.

Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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