In a recent conversation with a group of church leaders I pointed out three aspects of small group coaching structures that provide helpful lenses through which to evaluate. There really is very little mystery to building an effective coaching structure. It requires recruiting the right people, to do the right things, with the right people. See also, The Truth about Building an Effective Coaching Structure and The End in Mind for an Effective Coaching Structure.
Here are the three lenses I pointed out:
An appropriate span of care. Span of care is an essential ingredient in any coaching structure. Essentially, span of care is a term that notes the number of individuals in the care of the person in question. It is a term primarily used to describe the number of leaders in the care of a coach.
The concept can be traced to Exodus 18 where Jethro tells Moses that he’s trying to care for too many people and he needs to have “leaders of 1000, leaders of 100, leaders of 50, and leaders of 10.” Carl George pointed out that “everyone needs to be cared for by someone, but nobody can take care of more than (about) 10.”
Questions: When you think about your coaching structure, do you have an appropriate span of care? Or are your coaches trying to care for too many leaders? See also, Span of Care.
The right job description. At its essence, coaching is about “doing to and for the leader whatever you want the leader to do to and for their members.” For example, if you want group members to develop a sense of family in their group, the leader will need to have that experience first. If you want your members to know what it’s like to be prayed for, the leader will need to know what that feels like first. In both cases the coach will have to do certain things to the leader. In both cases the coach will have to do certain things for the leader.
At the same time, coaching ultimately has very little to do with teaching technique. When a brand new leader first begins leading a group, they will probably need to learn how to do certain things (i.e., lead a discussion, help more reserved members engage in the discussion, and help more talkative members not dominate the discussion, etc.). Within three to four months a new leader will learn almost everything they will ever need to know about leading a group. Coaching has little to do with teaching technique. It has everything to do with caring for leaders. Here’s a sample of a job description I use.
Questions: Does the job description you’re using for coaches help them focus on the right activities? Or does the job description encourage the wrong activities? See also, How to Diagnose the Coaches in Your System.
The right level of capacity. Building an effective small group coaching structure requires enlisting high capacity men and women. Jesus used a particular phrase to describe capacity a number of times in the Gospels. He noted that when a farmer sows seed, every seed has its own capacity, “Some 30, some 60, and some 100.” Jesus is not talking about maturity. He’s talking about the relative capacity of a seed. He’s also not talking about something that can be acquired through experience. A seed’s DNA determines its capacity.
Building an effective coaching structure requires recruiting hundred-fold or sixty-fold players. When you recruit thirty-fold players to do the job of a hundred-fold player, you end up with coaches who don’t have the capacity to influence leaders. When they leave a message, it doesn’t get returned. When they speak, the leaders in their huddle aren’t listening.
Questions: How would you evaluate the capacity of the coaches on your team? Which of your coaches do you think meet the capacity test? Which coaches on your team do you think are in the wrong role? See also, Three Keys to a Coaching Tune-Up.
What do you think? Have a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Adam Hinett