Leadership Coaching: Dedicated to Building Leadership Capacity

Recently I heard eleven of the most affirming words a professor can hear from a student, “I wish I had learned this when I began my ministry.”

In March of 2013 twelve students from diverse leadership contexts met for two days of orientation to Coaching Fundamentals. The class included missionaries, pastors, business consultants, managers, and church planting supervisors: an enriching mix of both church and marketplace leaders. Watching these leaders experience the power of coaching was truly enriching. One student, the Research and Development Manager of a large pre-print publishing firm said, “Coaching is an amalgamation of many things that I've learned over the years: the pieces and parts finally fit together in a cohesive skill-set.”

Through the use of discovery listening, powerful questions, and actionable, strategic, next steps, coaches help leaders recognize strengths, clarify issues, and focus on vital activities to accomplish self-identified outcomes. In short, a coach helps someone get from where they are to where they want to be. Master Coach and CoachNet Global Director of Training Jonathan Reitz says, "Leadership coaching focuses the person being coached on the short list of areas where they can make the most progress in the shortest period of time." Interestingly, Gary Collins points out that this use of “coach” recovers a pre-sports era meaning. “Coach” was coined in the 1500s to designate a horse-drawn carriage designed to expedite one’s travel from where they were to where they wanted to go.1

In the last 20 years leadership coaching has exploded as a profession. In 2012 the International Coaching Federation identified 47,500 coaches who generated approximately $2 billion in revenue worldwide.2 This growing popularity correlates to an increasing awareness that coaching works. Dr. David B. Peterson writes for the Harvard Business Review, “Today, coaching is a popular and potent solution for ensuring top performance from an organization’s most critical talent.”3 Fortunately, the church is arriving at the same conclusion and leveraging this capacity building paradigm for Kingdom goals.

Ashland Seminary’s new Graduate Diploma and Certificate programs train individuals in leadership coaching according to International Coaching Federation guidelines. We have partnered with the oldest Christian coaching organization, CoachNet Global, to provide the highest quality of Christian coach training available. Out of 112,133 coaches surveyed from 117 countries, forty-three percent viewed untrained individuals as the coaching world’s biggest obstacle.4 While there are a number of organizations that offer coach-specific training, only a small number of programs offer the advantages of a university base.5 Out of those only a few embrace an explicit Christian world view. Our Christ-centered program is uniquely positioned to meet the demands of both established leaders who want to be retooled and emerging leaders who want both classic and cutting edge training. In the words of Jesus, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old" (Mt. 13:52, ESV).

In our Graduate Diploma program, students who qualify can receive masters’ level credit as they pursue certification in leadership coaching. Those who do not meet the entrance requirements for Master’s work can still pursue coaching certification on the certificate level.

1Gary Collins, Christian Coaching (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2001), 45.
2International Coaching Federation, 2012 ICF Global Coaching Study Executive Summary, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, (accessed on May 2, 2013 at
icf.files.cms-plus.com/includes/media/docs/2012ICFGlobalCoachingStudy-ExecutiveSummary.pdf), 1.
3David B. Peterson, “Does Your Coach Give You Value for Your Money?” Harvard Business Review (January 2009): 4.
4ICF, 3.
5ICF, 4.

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