Church GrowthCoaching

Coaching as Supervisor

Coaching means helping others reach their goals. But what if you coach staff members or volunteers who are expected to meet the goals you have set for them? Is it possible at all for a supervisor to coach effectively? What we are facing here appears to be a role conflict.

Christoph Schalk, who directs the international consultant network of the Institute for Natural Church Development, addresses this issue.

“External coaches do not face this problem. They can take up the goals of their coachees without restraint and help them reach those goals. Unlike coaches who simultaneously find themselves in the role of being the coachee’s supervisor or leader (for instance, a pastor coaching his small group leaders).’

Is there a way of managing those two different roles? First of all, we need to face the facts: Coaching assumes that coachees are free to make their own decisions and choose their own course of action. Only coachees who enjoy this freedom can be expected to set goals and work towards reaching those goals. In cases where leaders view their staff members and volunteers as “aids” helping to meet the leader’s goals, coaching will not work.

Leaders wanting to coach their team members effectively need to define with them the extent to which they are free in decision-making and action-taking. The defining lines need to be drawn very clearly to eliminate any grey areas. Within those lines leaders then can honestly act as coaches and ask, “What is your goal? And how can I help you reach this goal?”

Outside of the coachee’s scope of operational freedom, the leader will need to be the one who is casting vision, setting goals, and calling for accountability. Here the leader will be supervising rather than coaching. Some leaders are afraid of giving up too much authority if they want to coach their team members or volunteers. They need to realize, however, that direct responsibility will raise the motivation of their co-workers and help them grow in maturity. Coaching therefore is a promising style of leadership. Too much potential is given away if leaders do not believe in the capabilities of their team members. Due to a rather fearful mind-set, they end up controlling their team members too much.

Colin is the Director of ResourceZone International. He has 30 years of ministry experience as a pastor, college lecturer and consultant/coach to consultants, denominational leaders and local church pastors. He can be reached at


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