The End in Mind for an Effective Coaching Structure

Ever gotten part way into a story and realized that in order to really tell the it properly…you needed to go back and fill in a few details?  Maybe you thought you could give an overview or sketch the big picture, and then as you were telling the story it got crystal clear that without the details, the nitty gritty details, it just wouldn’t be an accurate telling.

Ever had that happen?  It happened to me yesterday.

I started out yesterday giving you three keys to a coaching tune-up.  I wrote it and then published it.  And then several hours later I got an insightful comment that said:

“Loved 1 & 2 but #3 really?!? Help me understand the ‘ask If you can count on them in the future.’ you’re basically firing them and I was hoping for some tips on doing that more delicately… Any other suggestions?” (If you missed yesterday, you might want to go back and read it to catch up)

And when I read the comment…I realized that I had assumed you all were already thinking about coaching the way I think about it.  And I realized that I had assumed that you all were already setting up your coaching structures the way I work to set them up.  And if you want to know the truth, I said, “Dohhhhhhh!  Missed it on that one!”

So today I want to begin to talk about how I want things to look and feel when coaching is developed properly (at least, according to me).  Here’s my take on the end in mind for an effective coaching structure.

The End in Mind

The first thread I need to add in this tapestry is that the end in mind for an effective coaching structure has every small group leader being cared for in a way that gives them the experience they need in order to care for their members.  I believe that whatever I want to happen at the member level in a small group has to happen first to the leader.  This is a really, really, important concept.

Whatever you want to happen at the member level has to happen first to the leader.

With me so far?

Let me add another important thread to my end in mind.  I also believe that most small group leaders figure out everything they need to know about leading a group in about the first 90 days.  Granted, they may run across something later on that they’ve never seen before and need a little technique or some wisdom on how to deal with this new wrinkle.  But for the most part, they already know what they need to know to survive…or their group would already be dead.

What they continue to need beyond 90 days is care, not coaching.  I think Carl George was right when he pointed out that “everyone needs to be cared for by someone but no one can care for more than (about) 10.”  Leaders still need to be cared for by someone.  And one person can only care for about 10.  So you need to add a coaching layer.

The last thread I’ll mention today is that every leader is different and not all leaders need the same level of care.  When Steve Gladen talks about their current coaching strategy at Saddleback he mentions the fact that they provide high touch personal care for some.  In other words, some of their leaders actually get together with their coach for a cup of coffee and talk through their health plan.

Other leaders only interact with a periodic phone call. If you call them…they will return your call and you can develop a level of care that way.  And then some leaders are unresponsive and all you can do is keep them informed about what’s going on via website, email or letter.

Every leader is different.  Your end in mind might be that they’re all being cared for by someone who will do for them what you want them to do for their members…but in the end, they may not respond all the time.


I know this is a lot to take in.  And obviously, this doesn’t even begin to answer the questions that were asked in the comment from yesterday’s postHere’s the next part of the story.  If you want to make sure you don’t miss future updates, you can sign up right here.

What do you think? Do you have a question about these three threads in building the end in mind? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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4 Replies to “The End in Mind for an Effective Coaching Structure”

  1. Thanks for this, Mark. In a few paragraphs you’ve given us some essential understandings for a healthy coaching system. You da’ man!

  2. Mark thanks for this- We would love to share any or all of our coaching documents and resources with others for free. I was a bit skeptical when we launched our coaching system, but it has been really cool to see how it has developed our staff, our volunteer coaches, and our volunteer leaders. So feel free to pass on my email at

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