You've recruited coaches. You've made sure you've recruited only the right people to be coaches. And you've even provided some basic training and encouragement for the new coaches you've recruited.
Now, the question is, "What is the best way to connect a new leader with a coach?"
Note: This assumes you are already aware of the built-in obstacles in connecting an experienced leader (as opposed to a new leader) to a coach. See also, 5 Obstacles to Building an Effective Coaching Structure.
Here's the best way to connect a new leader with a coach:
The best way to connect a new leader with a coach is with a brief face-to-face meeting at the very beginning.
Let me explain a few details.
First, by "very beginning" I mean as close to the beginning of the new leader's journey as possible.
For example, we launch many of our newest groups with the Small Group Connection strategy. As you know, that strategy is designed to help new groups identify the leader (from amongst the members) they'd be willing to follow for a six-week test-drive. And as a result, when we hold a small group connection there are always lots of newly identified leaders that are very qualified but didn't see leadership coming.
Unlike experienced leaders...newly identified leaders are almost always very receptive, even relieved, to learn that we are providing them with a coach (an experienced leader) who will be walking alongside them as their new group begins.
In this case, "the very beginning" is moments after new leaders are chosen in the small group connection.
Two of our other strategies also use on-campus events to identify new leaders and both strategies connect a coach to these new leaders in the very beginning.
Second, we've discovered that arranging a face-to-face meeting between new leader and coach is a key to a great beginning.
How do we do that? Coaches who have room in their huddles for a new leader attend our small group connections and serve as "monitors" during the event. We point them out at the beginning of the connection and describe them as "coaches here to help new groups get started." They're not sitting with the new groups as they form, but they are nearby and helping to keep conversations on track.
These coaches also step up to help with three key moments during the Small Group Connection:
- Choosing the leader
- Determining the day and time they'll meet and where they'll meet.
- Getting the new leaders promptly to the stand-up leader meeting.
It is this third moment (getting the new leaders promptly to the stand-up leader meeting) that helps set up a brief face-to-face meeting at the very beginning.
At the conclusion of every small group connection we have a short (7 to 10 minutes) stand-up meeting for new leaders. We do three things in the meeting:
- We affirm them and remind them that "all the great stories in the Bible are of leaders who were chosen." See also, Here's How I Lead a Small Group Connection.
- We explain what is in their New Leader Packet.
- We introduce them to their coaches and turn them over to the coaches to conclude the meeting. Very important: By "introduce them to their coaches" I mean we honor the coaches in front of the new leaders, affirming our coaches for their deep experience at leading new groups.
Third, the face-to-face meeting between new leader and coach is very brief.
After we've introduced the coaches they simply take a few steps away from the stand-up meeting and assure the new leader they'll be available to help their new group get off to a great start. They also do the following:
- Ask "When is the best time this week for us to have a cup of coffee or meet for a few minutes?" As they ask this question, they pull out their phone or calendar to compare schedules.
- As they're comparing schedules, the coach asks the new leader for their cell phone number. "Let me call you so you'll have my cell phone number." "My name is Mark Howell, add me to your contacts so you'll see it's me calling you."
- Once they arrange a short meet-up, the brief face-to-face is over. Unless the new leader has questions, we want to get them on their way.
This is the best way we've found to connect a new leader with a coach. A brief face-to-face allows the coach to become a face instead of a name or a voice. And that is very important.
This technique (and many others) are explained in detail in Building an Effective Coaching Structure - 2019 (one of my most popular mini-courses).