One of my more challenging tasks as a leadership coach is to figure out a way to break the news to an Executive Pastor or Senior Pastor that they may not be doing as well as they think they are doing. My process of coaching always begins with one of the Birkman© assessment tools. This gives me objective data about a leader’s ability to lead themselves well or information about how others are receiving their leadership. Most leaders work hard at their leadership but often do not have an accurate view of their leadership impact—or the lack thereof.

Here is how the process usually works. I am contacted by a leadership board or ministry leader that they would like to assess their leadership skills or do some skill development. They indicate that they desire to know what I have to offer or what the process looks like. I talk them through the Birkman Report and the Birkman 360 and send them some information about the tool and the coaching process. If they need personal development, we use the Birkman Report. If they would like to know how their leadership effectiveness is being perceived by up to twenty people who work around them, then we use the Birkman 360.

Once the decision is made, I send them a formal proposal outlining the process, time involved, brief overview of the homework, and the cost. Once this is agreed upon, the process begins. The leader takes their assessment and then a 2-3 month series of coaching sessions begin.

The fun part for me, as a leadership coach, is spending 2-3 hours reviewing the information before the client receives their report in the mail. It is a fun and prayerful time working up to the first phone call when I have to say, “John, you are special and God loves you, but we need to do some work. Can you handle a little stretching?”

My goal, of course, is to break the news in an encouraging way, without breaking the leader. The reason that leadership skill development is worth the effort is that leadership in the church is a big part of the success of any faith community. Our churches need healthy, growing, and effective leaders.

Any time I am speaking to Executive Pastors, I always include a comment or two that challenges them to use their position and talent to promote leadership growth among their staff. Advancing the kingdom of God in the lives of God’s people, as well as in their communities, is serious business. We simply cannot afford to be leaders that are ineffective.

I encourage all of us to continue developing ourselves as leaders, submitting ourselves to various processes and tools that are available to us for the sake of our churches. We have been given a wonderful opportunity to lead. Let’s do it with excellence.