Dan Reiland The Pastor's Coach – Developing Church Leaders

In the last post, I wrote about a 2-Word Coaching Tool that works incredibly well. That post also introduces a brief look at the differences between coaches and mentors.

In today’s post, I’m listing the differences between coaches and mentors in more detail, and then cover six big-picture traits that are true of both.

As leaders, we are shaped, even “imprinted,” by the model of training that impacted us the most.

For example, all five of the men who poured into me were more mentors than coaches. They were all good at coaching for sure, but they were mentors by nature. That has a lot to do with why I lean toward mentoring, even though I do a lot of coaching as well.

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Coaching leaders is one of the things about ministry that I love most. Great coaching is a truly transformational process and contributes significantly toward greater Kingdom impact.

For me, the relationships themselves are personally gratifying. It’s rewarding to have coaching and mentoring relationships also become friendships, and I love seeing my friends succeed.

For context, there is a slight difference between coaching and mentoring, and of course they overlap.

Coaching tends to be more of a week to week or month to month ongoing process, focused on more immediate results, with someone who is a regular part of your life. Investment from a great mentor may only take place once or twice a year, can be from a distance, and usually focuses in on the bigger picture and long term.

Great coaches (and mentors) ask great questions.

The questions are often unique and focused on the individual. But good coaches also have favorite “go to” questions that are helpful every time. I’ve been using one that focuses on two words for at least twenty-five years.

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When you are out in front and taking new territory, missteps are part of the journey. If you aren’t making mistakes, you probably aren’t leading.

All leaders make mistakes, the key is to not make the same one twice. If a leader makes the same mistake twice, it’s an indication they are not learning.

I’ve sure made my fair share of mess-ups and I’m not free from them now. Hopefully, not as frequent these days, and the context is also important. That is, you are doing more things right than wrong. But again, if you are leading in uncharted waters you will make mistakes.

Leaders who try to cover up, justify or minimize their mistakes often struggle with deeper issues. It can be anything from pride, to insecurity, to not wanting the mistake to be revealed.

But other times we just take ourselves too seriously. And it’s highly beneficial to be in an environment that is forgiving of our goof-ups.

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With more than 35 years in leadership now, I’ve learned that it’s truly all about people. That may seem obvious, but not all leaders behave as if they know or agree with that thought.

It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how gifted you are, or how much you know about vision and strategy. If you don’t know how to connect with and get along with people, you won’t make it far as a leader.

We’ve all made our fair share of relational mistakes, and no doubt you are grateful like I am, for the people who have been kind and patient. I appreciate the people who gave me a chance and still give me grace.

When you learn to treat people like you want to be treated, it’s amazing how much better life becomes.

I’ve learned that if I put others first, life has a way of giving back in wonderfully positive ways. That’s not the motivation, but it is the blessing.

If you don’t invest in friendships, you may end up traveling through life alone. The encouraging truth is that great relationships are not that difficult. They require time, love, and the willingness to not always get your way.

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