For the leader called upon to help others experiencing conflict, what leadership approach do you think is more affective in that situation? A “change or else” approach? A “let’s just all love each other” approach? Or a “I’ve got a few questions and some tools that might help you listen to each other, are you interested?”
Let me suggest the third approach is your better option. Here are four reasons why.
First, coach-like leadership increases the long-term success of your work because it doesn’t tell people what to do but rather leads to discovery of what needs to change. Tony Stoltzfus in his book Leadership Coaching defines coaching as "practicing the disciplines of believing in people in order to empower them to change." Coaching is about having the discipline to believe in people and complimentary skills to help them arrive at what God wants them to do.
Second, coach-like leadership develops other leaders not just followers.Coaching isn’t mentoring, counseling, discipling or consulting. These other roles tend to focus on sharing what you have with the learner and can develop a dependence on you for that information or expertise. Coaching is more of a dialogue between two people or a collaborative partnership where those being coached are responsible for solutions and follow through. The coach is there to support that learning and hold those being coached accountable for the results.
Thirdly, coach-like leadership is more likely to foster creativity verses the old status quo. Coaching is "the process of coming alongside a person or team to help them discover God's agenda for their life and ministry, and then cooperating when the Holy Spirit to see that agenda become a reality" (Logan & Reinecke). God has no shortage of creativity and help for those needing radical change and the resolution of conflict. A coach comes in not with pat answers but with a dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit who helps people come up with God’s new solutions to old problems.
Fourthly, coach-like leadership follows in the footsteps of Jesus who often was seen coaching. For example, Jesus often used questions as learning opportunities. One study found that of the 183 questions he was asked, he only answered three of them directly! And he asked 307 questions when interacting with people!
As you find yourself called upon to help others in conflict, may you consider the power and effectiveness of a coach-like leadership approach and enjoy lasting and God honoring change with those you work with and lead.
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