Thursday, May 05, 2011

Becoming a Coaching Leader

Although he is a Christian, Daniel Harkavy’s Becoming a Coaching Leader is written primarily for business people.  Harkavy has built his consulting business around training leaders to coach their team members to become high performing people.  The book is an overview of the system of training he has developed and taught for over a decade.

For the past several months, I have worked through this book with a group of ministers who serve small to medium-sized churches.  We began with the understanding that we would have to adapt this to a church context.  In all honesty, this was a bit difficult.  Participants struggled with how to implement Harkavy’s strategy in the often chaotic life of a local congregation.  Doing so is difficult but not impossible.  I wish I could say that we had been more successful in the attempt!  Every minister would be more effective if he or she could follow the practices and processes that Harkavy presents.

For example, every one of us can benefit from working through the author’s Core Four Success Puzzle® that includes the development of a Life Plan, a Business Vision, a Business Plan, and Priority Management.  A Life Plan involves identifying the “accounts” (God, spouse, family, finances, etc.)  in your life that are important, your desired outcomes in each area, and strategies to pursue those outcomes.  Your Business Vision is what you want your organization to look like in 20 years based on convictions, purpose, and “Mount Everest Goals.”  Your Business Plan is the what, where, how and when of the Business Vision.  Priority Management is how you put all of this together in your work and life. 

The final step is the most difficult for clergy to handle because we are always dealing with the “tyranny of the urgent.”  Most of the things that take up our time are urgent but not really important!  The challenge is to be willing to name those things that are important and make time for them.  This is where a good coach can help a person pursuing life balance.  A coach can help a person develop clarity, set goals, and encourage accountability.

Some of Harkavy’s best insights are in the chapters that deal with the knowledge, skills, disciplines, and systems that a person needs to become a coaching leader.  This is the primary idea of the book—to challenge every leader to become a coach to those with whom he or she works.  In so doing, the coaching leader brings out the best in the team member, providing job satisfaction for the person and a stronger, more effective organization.

The most positive thing that I can say about Harkavy is that he takes stewardship seriously, whether it is using time wisely, recognizing and encouraging potential, or investing oneself in family, associates, and friends.   The book is meant as a standalone product, but additional resources are available at and participation in one of his training programs would certainly help in developing the lifestyle proposed in the book.

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