15 Key Traits of an Effective Coach

by Dr. Michael Henderson, Vice President of Converge National Ministries
Leadership Coaching

The significance of coaching is consistent throughout the Bible. From the beginning of Creation, God designed us to be in relationship and coaching flows out of relationships. Good coaches pull out the best behaviors and characteristics that motivate and inspire their teams. A coach’s role is to equip, encourage and transform.

In Proverbs 27:17 we see another example in Scripture that defines the importance of coaching: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Above all coaches, Jesus stands supreme. His relationships with others, especially with his disciples, draw attention to many attitudes and activities we can assimilate into coaching leaders in our churches. Jesus’ life is an inexhaustible supply of wisdom and insight about how to coach. 

The most-effective coaches:

  1. Get their teams to believe in themselves by inspiring their teams to do more than they think they can. They get them to entertain possibilities that stretch the limits of their beliefs. Good coaches always build self-esteem. 
  2. Are great life teachers. They understand what they are teaching goes far beyond the X’s & O’s of a playbook. This kind of coach does not just teach the skills, technique and strategy within the narrow confines of a sport. He looks for opportunities where the more important life lessons can be taught, such as mastering hardship, handling and rebounding from failures and setbacks, trusting your teammates, sacrificing individual needs for the benefit of the group, emotionally dealing with winning and losing, good sportsmanship, fair play, honesty, integrity, etc. 
  3. Are mentally and spiritually healthy. They do not feel diminished as an individual when their teams fail, nor do they feel that much better about themselves when their squads succeed.
  4. Understand individual differences in their team members. They have a basic understanding that each team member is different in attitude, personality, response-ability, sensitivity and how he or she handles criticism and adversity. They hand-tailor what they say and how they treat each person to achieve maximum coaching effectiveness. 
  5. Coach the whole person, not just the team member, by taking the time to get to know the team member as a person and showing a sincere interest in his or her life. Coaches who take an interest in the team member’s total life are more trusted and respected than those who don’t. As a result, the team members are more motivated and work harder. 
  6. Are flexible in their teaching approach, continuously looking for better ways to reach each team member.
  7. Are great communicators who understand communication is a two-way street and involves a back and forth between coach and team member. If you can’t learn how to listen, then you will never be truly effective in reaching your team members.
  8. Keep the learning environment emotionally safe. They understand that environment they create dramatically affects the emotional and spiritual climate of the team. 
  9. Inspire their team members to believe in themselves. Coaches push their team members outside of their comfort zones, spiritually and emotionally.
  10. Continually challenge themselves by modeling the attitudes and behaviors they want their team members to adopt. This is a coach’s most powerful teaching tool.
  11. Are passionate. They know passion (love) is a high-test fuel that will power a team member over obstacles, beyond setbacks and through frustration until he or she achieves success. The coach’s passion is infectious, motivational and inspiring.
  12. Are empathetic. This goes a long way in building team member loyalty, self-esteem and motivation.
  13. Have integrity. Coaches are honest and demonstrate character and class in everything they do.
  14. Are open to negative feedback and criticism because within this feedback are the seeds to becoming a better, more successful coach.
  15. Use mistakes and failures as valuable teaching opportunities. They instill in their teams the understanding that mistakes and failures are nothing more than feedback about what you did wrong and specifically about what you need to do differently next time.

In order for the church to be healthy, the church must be committed to doing things the way Jesus modeled. Email strengthening@converge.org to find a coach or become one.

    Point - September 2018

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