23rd October 2020

Coaching: can it help clergy?

Nicola Willcocks puts a case for coaching translating from the corporate to the clergy

Behind every successful sports person, behind many successful leaders, are their coaches. We are living in volatile and complex times that demand ever more from leaders, who are increasingly recognising that they can’t do it alone. Working with a coach is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. What’s to stop clergy from working with a coach?

‘Thinking partner’

Coaching is a confidential, thought-provoking and creative conversation that can support, challenge and inspire you if you want to develop yourself personally or professionally. It is focussed on enabling you to work out what you want, why you want it and how to get there.  It provides valuable space for you to be listened to and understood, to think clearly and make choices that work for you and the wider systems you live and work in. You are the expert on your life and the role of your coach is to be your ‘thinking partner’, facilitating progress in a direction that you choose. The agenda is yours and a good coach will offer you a bespoke approach, recognising that you and your circumstances are unique.

‘Coaching is a great means of focusing on what is important, going to the root of things to evaluate, challenge and bring about self-change. With a good coach, it is easy to work through even the most sensitive transitions.’ Vicar

Why choose coaching?

People seek coaching for varied reasons:

  • To explore a specific goal or outcome and make progress in achieving it
  • To ‘unstick’ yourself from a place of uncertainty or not knowing what to do next
  • To make or navigate transitions concerning changes in role or life stage
  • To benefit from a confidential space and an external thinking partner separate from work, co-workers and well-meaning family and friends
  • To focus on increasing your confidence and influence

In addition to the reasons above, how might coaching be helpful for clergy?

  • To get clarity on priorities
  • Thinking through difficult decisions, situations, relationships or strategies
  • Improving wellbeing and reducing the risk of burnout
  • Finding ways to deal with too much work and the ‘overwhelm’ this creates
  • Addressing conflict, having difficult conversations and managing challenging relationships
  • Developing a leadership style that uses your strengths and is rooted in your values and calling
How does it work?

Clients usually engage with a coach over a series of sessions, arranged at intervals that maintain the momentum to enable change, but that allow time for action and reflection to consolidate the sessions. Some people find that one session is enough, depending on what they bring to coaching. To find a good coach, ask around your colleagues and friends for recommendations; check with your diocese to see if there is a list of recommended coaches in your area. Be assertive about ‘interviewing’ possible coaches to find out if they are right for you: what are their qualifications? Are they accredited? Do they have supervision and engage in regular CPD? All good coaches will arrange a free ‘chemistry’ session for you both to decide if it is a relationship that can work in your best interests.

Coaching can make the difference that you can’t always make alone. It can help you to do what you do well even better.

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