Self-Management & The Heart of a Coach

There is a hugely beneficial leadership skill that we can bring when managing, and coaching a person which is hardly explored. It is the art of self-management.

The heart of a true coach is to fully believe in the person you are coaching and to feel confident to empower them to find their own solutions. Fully embracing this attitude takes work, as it involves switching off your own agenda, your own advice, your own experience and wisdom, in service of helping someone understand their own heart and find their own way.

Truly adopting the heart of a coach, involves managing your thoughts and distractions that get triggered by the subject matter and pushing through to stay focussed on the coachee and their agenda.

Self-management is mastering the art of being able to acknowledge what comes up for you internally but to quickly ‘park’ it for a later time and re-focus back to exploring the subject at hand.

As leaders, how good are we at doing this? Being able to withhold our strength, our wisdom and our input is something that almost feels countercultural to the way many of us have been taught to lead and yet this what we do when we coach.

A leader’s heart is to help, to serve and to fix problems. Many leaders have become leaders because they are great at fixing problems. The limitation with this emphasis is that as soon as a person is not around you they have no ability to fix their own problems. This management style breeds dependence, which holds back growth. It also holds back growth in an organisation, as everything becomes dependant on the main leader being involved.

The heart of a coach is to help and serve and fix problems too, but a coach does this by standing back and championing someone to discover their own strength, their own way and activating their coachee into actions the coachee has created.

What does this approach look like? And what can it achieve?

This approach looks like serving people using a highly tuned listening ear that will learn to listen, draw out and reflect back vital information to someone about who they are. This listening ear will be able to artfully draw out parts of a person’s life, work and experience to help them understand their strengths, values, and much more. It will be able to reflect back to someone where they thrive, where they come alive and what they value.

This and many other coaching skills, require a high level of self-management as the focus is turned away from being the expert leader towards being the expert facilitator. As facilitator you do not need to search your memory banks and find solutions and ideas to fix. Facilitation of this kind, involves not listening to find and fix problems but instead listening to the person and focussing on drawing out their heart, expanding their perception of their identity and helping them step into their greater potential. It involves focussing more on helping a person link together clues and jigsaw pieces about themselves and God’s agenda, to create a clearer picture of circumstances, the future, who they are, their strengths, their purpose and their vision.

There are two elements to the skill of self-management; self-awareness and the skill of recovery. One of the top leadership skills you can have that will serve you well in life, is self-awareness. Self-awareness is a huge area to cover, but in this context it is about being aware of what is going on for you mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’s about becoming aware when you are jumping to conclusions as you listen. It’s becoming aware when you switch to leading someone to a solution you have in mind instead of developing them to understand their own situation.

Self-management in coaching is about being able to recognise you are all of a sudden no longer fully present. When you recognise it, you stop for a second to clock what was the trigger, then you park it in the interest of fully reconnecting and being present again to your coachee, resuming the exploration of the topic that they have chosen. You resume the task of drawing out from them the gold that is buried deep within them.

To develop this skill you have to re-train yourself when for example, you start to discern inner healing needs, or when you spot a character flaw or a non-Biblical attitude. When you can clearly see an obstacle, or an answer that you think will serve your coachee you stop, draw back from using the skills you are familiar with such as deliverance, sozo or discipleship. These skills will have already been honed, so it takes work at the beginning to switch them off, re-focus and reconnect with the coachee and activate your newly forming coaching skills and attitudes, thinking of your coachee as truly empowered.

Jesus was an amazing leader. He knew how to teach, how to minister emotional and physical healing to people. But he also knew that having answers to questions was not always the best way to teach. Many times he answered a question with a question, not because he did not know the answer but to bring deep revelation to a person of their own heart. He also always asked those he prayed for what they wanted without presuming. He honoured people’s choice, honoured their journey and chose to restrain His own strength in a way by not always giving them His wisdom but asking them powerful questions which to helped them to learn and grow.

We too can learn this type of leadership by starting to self-manage our ‘expert’ and adopting the heart of a coach.

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