Guiding, Supporting and Coaching
The ultimate equipper of his team was Jesus! Equipping is the major thing that jumps off the pages of Jesus’ story from the Bible, and from writers who help us use his example in our lives and work.
Other than, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16), what we often read are stories of equipping others. We hear parables, designed to help Jesus’ team to think for themselves. We hear detailed instructions on how to take the gospel to the world. We hear concise guidance on how to live our lives: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” (Matt. 22:37) and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39) And let’s revisit, when Jesus went off by himself to pray (Luke 5:16, Luke 22:41). Even here, Jesus is equipping his team by showing them a way to build relationship with his Father.
What equipping and strengthening does a team need? Decades of surveys, some focusing on ministry teams and some on others, formal and informal surveys, all say the same thing – “we need a manager/a leader who helps us get our jobs’ done.” Some define “help us get our job done” with actions such as navigating through corporate culture and politics, providing resources, or giving constructive feedback. These actions, and others, are what people managers do. In fact, they are the only reason to have a people manager.
At the risk of shouting at you – A MANAGER’S SOLE JOB IS TO GUIDE, SUPPORT and COACH THEIR STAFF. Why shout? Because I’ve been saying this for all the decades of those surveys, yet what I see over the course of a day is people managers creating reports, going to manager meetings, and doing projects.
A manager’s sole job is to guide, support and coach their staff.
“But I don’t have time to guide, support and coach my team,” you say. Of course not, because we’re too busy doing the work that should/could be done by staff if we only guided, supported and coached them. Yes, we all come back from those meetings and tell our team what happened. Yes, we share those reports – but telling isn’t guiding, supporting and coaching.
Some managers over the years have been convinced that they must change their daily tasks to guiding, supporting and coaching but have a hard time making it happen. The biggest obstacle is time because, I won’t lie to you – it’s hard to start. When you first start putting 75% of your time into guiding, supporting and coaching you will still have to go to those meetings, create those reports and keep working on those projects. Your team isn’t ready to do the work until you’ve guided, supported and coached them. It will be a tiring few months, but the reward is so worth it! The more they can do with confidence and accuracy the more you can guide, support and coach and the more you guide, support and coach the more they can do. We’re not talking “more” meaning volume (though that may be true); we’re talking more accuracy and more confidence.
The second obstacle managers’ report when seeking to move to a guiding, supporting and coaching approach is the words themselves. They need the day-to-day actions that comprise guiding, supporting and coaching so they can learn how to do those actions and see themselves doing them.
Here’s where Jesus comes in. Guide, support and coach like Jesus did! In a couple of Christian Leadership Alliance’s past Outcomes Conference sessions participants were asked how Jesus inspired his team. When the groups finished their lists we had actual actions each of us could take and hold ourselves accountable for doing every day. These actions are guiding, supporting or coaching actions. Here are 10 of the actions from those lists:
Inspire Your Team with Jesus-Like Actions
- He listened.
- He touched.
- He was honest.
- He led by example.
- He taught.
- He met people where they were.
- He communicated.
- He gave time.
- He was a servant.
- He had a strong sense of mission.
We can learn so much from how Jesus inspired his team. So, what does your team need? They need you! They need your time – to guide, support and coach them. And they need you to prepare them for times you aren’t there, just as Jesus did with his team. Equip them with your words and your actions. Write them on paper, in emails, in computer files and on their hearts.
Carolyn B. Thompson is president of TRAINING SYSTEMS INC, a customized training and HR consulting company helping small and medium-sized organizations enhance their ability to recruit, inspire and retain quality employees and improve performance through training. She is currently writing Managing Employees Using the Bible as Your Guide and she’d love to hear your stories - firstname.lastname@example.org.