What’s it take to be a great coach? Great coaching requires knowing how to coach and having skills such as active listening and powerful questioning. In other words, it takes knowing and doing. But great coaching is more than head knowledge and skill development. In addition to knowing and doing, great coaching requires being.
I love the core competency “Coaching Presence” because it shines a spotlight on the importance of being. What our coaching clients need most is another person to be with them. Of course, we don’t want to dispense with knowing and doing, but we also don’t want to miss the importance of being.
In my own coaching, I find there are five key aspects to coaching presence.
- Be fully present. In our distracted, multi-tasking, out-of-focus world, it seems that having someone’s undivided attention is a luxury – something that only British royalty or billionaires can experience. We honor God’s image in our clients when we tune in – not just to what they are saying, but also when we tune in to them as a person. Being fully present is, well, a present. It’s a gift we give our clients.
- Be present as a coach. The fact that we show up in the coaching conversation is important, and it’s also important how we show up. When we show up with a distinct coaching presence, we partner with our client in a way that is distinct from how a friend, parent, teacher, counselor, mentor, or pastor shows up. Our commitment to serve our clients necessitates that we stay in coach mode.
- Be fluid. Being present with another human being means we never really know what’s going to happen next. This is why we must maintain a ready stance, remain light on our feet, and be ready to flex, adapt, and respond in the moment to what our client brings into the conversation. Being rigid and unresponsive dims the power of the coaching moment.
- Be confident. Your clients need you to show up at your best, and so do you. A Christian coach is confident in her ability and in the coaching process. Even more, she is confident in the goodness and grace of God to support and sustain the coaching conversation. Ultimately, the coaching conversation will prove beneficial because God chooses to bless both coach and client – in this we can be assured.
- Be safe. To have a coaching presence is to create a safe environment for the client to open up, explore, rewind, mess up, try again, and stumble forward. But it’s more than just the space that’s safe – it’s you that must be safe. You must have the client’s best interest in mind and in heart. You must guard the client and the client’s story with airtight confidentiality. You must be able to hear whatever the client shares without judgment, blame, shame, or pity.
In the same way that we work to strengthen our knowing and doing as coaches, we can also strengthen our being. Coaching presence is something we can (and should) improve. If you’d like to explore Coaching Presence in greater depth, join me for the monthly CCNI core competency webinar on Tuesday, April 9th at 1 PM Eastern Time. See you then!
Chad Hall, D.Min., MCC
About the Author:
Chad serves on faculty and as Director of Coaching at Western Seminary. He is also President of Coach Approach Ministries, a ministry that provides coaching and coach training to Christian leaders around the world.
Chad is a graduate of Duke University and Princeton Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister who has served as a pastor, church planter and as a team leader for a major denomination.
Chad’s experience also includes time as an internal coach at the business intelligence leader, SAS. He is the co-author of Coaching for Christian Leaders: A Practical Guide and Faith Coaching: A Conversational Approach to Helping Others Move Forward in Faith as well as numerous articles in Leadership Journal. Chad is known for his warmth, humor, and easy-going approach to coaching as well as his tenacious commitment to coaching well.
Chad lives in Hickory, NC with his wife Holly and their three children.