Becoming a masterful coach

As coaches, we invite our clients to embrace an open mind, a spirit of humility, a willingness to experiment, and to maintain a growth mindset. These same traits are essential for the pursuit of coaching mastery. People with growth mindsets believe that their abilities as coaches can be improved through dedication and hard work (see Carol Dweck's book, Mindset).

Every year, I create a Reinvention Road Map designed to reinvent portions of my life including designs for being a better coach and growing a thriving coaching practice. I've highlighted the areas I'm focusing on this year related to coaching.

This year's development plan addresses identifies 3 areas that I'll invest in.  I will pay attention to and have a plan for:
1 | Managing my mindset
  • I will create more space between coaching sessions so that I can be more fully present with clients and avoid carrying baggage from one coaching conversation into the next. 
  • I will write down and review the gifts, strengths, and resources I see in my clients before every session so that I do not underestimate their wisdom, grit, and creativity.
  • I will spending more time learning about, and viewing the client as a whole person to better coach the WHO as well as the WHAT. 

2 | Embedding and refining my coaching skills
  • I will focus on a specific core coaching practice each month. This includes going deeper with ICF's 8 Core Competencies. I will use the remaining four months of the year to: 1) Improve my process for beginning and ending coaching relationships, 2) Enhancing my facilitation skills for when coaching groups and teams, 3)  Dancing purposefully and be playfully with clients, and 4) Using direct communication strategies more often.
  • Once a month, I will ask a client for permission to record a coaching session so that I can observe what did well and what I could improve in the future.  I will note where I saw transformation occur through the lens of the "4As" (i.e. assumptions, attitudes, approaches, and actions), and assess my efforts through the lens of ICF's Code of Ethics.
  • I will add 600 hours of coaching experience to my ICF Coaching Log.

3 | Growing my coaching business around 3 specific niches
  • I will revisit my "brand promise" to clients to ensure that it's clear and compelling. 
  • I will update promotional plans and coaching resources around Thriving Congregations.
  • I will update promotional plans and coaching resources around Adaptive Leadership.
  • I will update promotional plans and coaching resources around Forming Faith in Daily Life.
  • I will launch a Coaching Podcast that highlights ways to use a coach and coaching principles to form faith, build adaptive leadership, and help congregations thrive.

Using KISS to spark ongoing growth
Other ways I spark new awareness and learnings as a coach include using the KISS exercise where I ask myself questions related to the KISS Acronym.  I use this exercise immediately following a coaching conversation, as well as a once a month where I ask the same questions through the lens of multiple coaching sessions. I ask:
  • What went well?  What should I KEEP doing? 
  • How might I INCREASE or IMPROVE what already seems to working?
  • What should I START doing or "try" to see if it improves my coaching?
  • What should I STOP doing?  What am I doing that's unhelpful or counterproductive?

Leaders are READERS and Coaches are CURATORS
I'm a sponge for learning and I love to read.  I take notes on what I read and curate the content for myself and to possibly share with others. I usually read one book a week and every month I read 1 book about leading well, 1 book about coaching well, and 1 book about building a coaching/consulting business. If you enjoy learning and have similar interests in these these topics, here are three books in each category, I'd enthusiastically recommend:

1 | Leading Well 
2 | Coaching Well
3 | Building a Coaching Business
I'm a firm believer in taking small steps every day that lead to big change by the end of the year. It's energizing to paint a picture of our preferred futures and find ways to live into them.

Consider, and comment on, these 3 questions as you explore your next steps.
  •  What's the transformation you're seeking that will help you be a masterful coach? 
  • What do you wish to celebrate by the end of 2022 related to your coaching business, being a certified coach, or using your coaching skills in your personal and professional settings?
  • What small steps will you take today or this week that are aligned your coaching goals?
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Mary Eide - April 18th, 2022 at 8:32pm

My desire is to move forward confidently embracing my coaching skills to inform how I plan and interact within meetings, class environments and in building stronger leaders within our church. I want to move more comfortably into the coaching mindset as I interact with others and use my deep passion for learning to create weekly time for reading/listening to coaching related material. Documenting my progress and celebrating my wins will be one way I can mark my progress, as well as identify the skills/practices I need to become a masterful coach.

By the end of the year I want to be able to celebrate having accumulated 100 coaching hours. I want to have established a practice of utilizing coaching skills within the church setting: meetings, individual leadership coaching, Confirmation classes and adult classes; continuing to transform my conversations/relationships with my adult children and grandchildren and extended family.

A small step I can take this week to align with my Coaching Goal is catching up on my Coaching Class assignments.

Ladd - April 20th, 2022 at 5:56pm

I love the image of "moving more comfortably into the coaching mindset." I know for me it is one thing when having an intentional coaching relationship to be in a coaching mindset, but when I am just interacting with others how do I start with questions instead of solutions. Great words Mary!

Dan Solomon - April 19th, 2022 at 5:26pm

I'm seeking to increase the effectiveness of my coaching. Most important to accomplishing this transformation will be to increase my logged hours of coaching practice. I will pay special attention to preparing myself for sessions as well as following up after sessions. I will continue to listen to the comments of observers and plan to record an occasional session.

By the end of 2022 I hope to have made significant progress towards establishing my practice (want to formally launch by end of summer). I will continue exploring the role of Synod Coaching Coordinator. Additionally, I plan to complete my mentor coaching and to have made significant progress towards logging 100 Coaching hours (minimum 60 hours).

Small steps that I will be taking in the next week include taking next steps in creating my business plan, Continue to build my potential client list, make initial contacts with 6 "friends" to ask them to consider being clients. Additionally, I will continue my conversations with the Synod Staff as efforts continue to "establish a culture of coaching" in the Synod.

Tom - April 22nd, 2022 at 9:58pm

Dan, I like your idea of approaching synod staff as a Synod coach. As I work with synod staff to bring my current call to a close on May 15th, I'll inquire about how I might support their work of empowering pastors to be healthy and faithful servant leaders.

Dan Solomoni - April 24th, 2022 at 2:15pm

Tom. I'd be happy to chat with you and share what I've learned in this area. Just let me know.

Tom - April 25th, 2022 at 11:43am

That would be great, Dan. Thanks. My email is saltminer14@gmail. Please connect and we can schedule a time to chat.

Ladd - April 20th, 2022 at 5:55pm

What's the transformation you're seeking that will help you be a masterful coach?

For me it is building my confidence that I have what it takes and that I am not an imposter. It is because of this I want to work on taking on 2-3 clients in the coming year that are not church staff. I also want to work on attending the monthly coaching seminars whether it is the book discussion or topic discussion.

What do you wish to celebrate by the end of 2022 related to your coaching business, being a certified coach, or using your coaching skills in your personal and professional settings?

As I shared above I want to start with getting 2-3 clients to work on improving my skills as well as having my own coach if I can financially afford it.

What small steps will you take today or this week that are aligned your coaching goals?

I think finding one student from Luther Seminary that would like to create a coaching relationship.

Amelia H. - April 22nd, 2022 at 1:55pm

The transformation I am seeking to become a more masterful coach is to intentionally identify myself as a 'trained coach' publicly. I want to become confident in this skill and identity in order that I might enter into outside church relationships to build my coaching practice. I also hope to be transformed into the coaching mindset to the degree that it becomes my natural way of being. As in other times in my life, I know that one day I will simply "be in the coaching mindset" not realizing it until I reflect back on a situation, day, or event and noticed that I did it without even thinking about it. In the end this takes a plan and practice.

By the end of 2022 my plan is to have finished my mentor coaching, accumulated 100 hours of coaching, and have 5 clients outside of the church leadership world. I would like to focus on coaching teens and parents of teens. I also plan to have transitioned to a pastor-coaching model with the church leadership. My website will be up and running, I will have my coaching packets prepared and ready to offer.

Small steps. That is the way to keep my blood pressure down. Small steps include finishing my ACC training well; continuing to coach and be coached in my triad; talk with others who can help me with the business side of building a business and brand. One other thing I will do is to READ books/articles/blogs related to coaching, coaching as a healing art (not sure where I will find this but I will go on a hunt!), and building a brand. In Lent I spent a lot of time reading but reading things that help me to escape--books can be great for this. Now it's time to focus and continue to investment I am making in myself to continue in the 'helping industry' without being in parish ministry exclusively.

Nathan Luitjens - May 2nd, 2022 at 3:11pm

I love the idea of so embodying the coaching mindset that it just becomes second nature. If I had to think about how I want to be it would be a person who is naturally curious and asking questions that allow people the space to talk about the things that really interest them. When I look at how Jesus so often acted with his disciples and with anyone who would come to him with questions demanding answers, he would often turn the situation around and ask them powerful questions in an attempt to get them to discover answers for themselves and to evoke awareness and bring clarity.

Tom - April 22nd, 2022 at 9:56pm

Yesterday I experienced a shift in my thinking about coaching that I can only describe as "owning" the idea of becoming a coach. This change in perspective motivated me to take more direct steps to establish my coaching business right now, April 22, as a trained coach. This week I began sharing with people I randomly meet that I am a trained coach inviting them to reach out if I can be of any help to them. Also,

1. The transformation I'm seeking to become an extraordinary coach is to reframe my motivation for being a coach in the first place. It's not about getting clients and developing some profitable business. My motivation is focused on loving and caring for people by partnering with them to achieve their God-given potential more quickly and easily than they could on their own. My thinking is that by focusing on loving my neighbor everything else will fall into place.

2. By the end of 2022, I'd like to be ACC certified and actively coaching three-ten clients as well as using my coaching skills to help family, friends and colleagues move toward their preferred futures.

3. Steps I've taken/am taking: Yesterday, I purchased the domain name,, selected a Wordpress stylesheet and am waiting for it to propagate onto the web. I established an email account for it: Today, I updated my LinkedIn and twitter passwords, explored calendly and youmail (to create a virtual business related phone number separate from my personal number) and worked on a logo as part of establishing my brand. Additionally, I invited a person outside of my congregation/denomination to contact me for a pro bono coaching session and am finishing The Book of Coaching having read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team last week. This coming week, I am going to explore the technical aspects of podcasting. I have this idea of producing 60 second podcasts titled "View from the Ridge" that offer a daily powerful question for listeners to consider and a weekly podcast titled, "Someday Saturday" where I discuss strategies for tackling those things we tell ourselves, "I'll do that someday," while sharing with listeners my personal experience of tackling my own 'Someday" list.

Lastly, I'm going to begin working on my covid 15 (alright, you got me, 20) pounds I gained when my gym shut down by riding our stationary bike for 20 minutes, 3 times this coming week.

Dan Solomon - April 23rd, 2022 at 11:54am

Tom. simply wow! What an exciting, powerful and inspiring shift for you!

Brian Hooper - April 24th, 2022 at 5:44pm

Tom, I appreciate your plan of action. It sounds like a very detailed and measurable plan in many facets. Great ideas for growing and expanding a coaching business!

Jason D. Bland - April 26th, 2022 at 8:09am


Your goals are both deliberate and realistic... especially after seeing all the steps you've in the past several days to establish your business. I'm hoping for all the best.

Brian Hooper - April 24th, 2022 at 5:58pm

I am still curious where this coaching journey will lead me. I admit, I still at times fall prey to the "imposter syndrome" and wonder if I have what it takes to be a coach. I can say that I have learned a lot in this coaching class and this has led me to ask powerful questions in my relationships.

By the end of 2002 I hope to be ACC certified if I can get some more coaching hours under my belt. This week I will get some more experience as a cong. member wants to meet about possibly starting up a "singles group." I also shared with our synod staff that I am working at becoming a coach and he said he had been thinking about me as a coach for the "faithful innovation" coaching for congregations in the synod. I will see where this conversation leads and to some possibly next steps.

As far as a coaching business, I have thought about a niche to include reaching out to athletes and professionals. I am an Ironman triathlete and I am brainstorming how to be a personal well-being and professional coach. I am still fleshing out this idea.

Jason D. Bland - April 25th, 2022 at 5:50pm

As I look out over the remaining eight months of 2022, I have several goals that I hope to accomplish. First, with regards to ICF certification, I want to accomplish all requisite training, coaching hours, and successfully complete my certification exam. Bottom line, I want to at least hold my ACC certification by year’s end. Second, I want to be on my path toward my PCC certification, via training and accumulating coaching hours beyond the 100-hour mark. Lastly, I want to maintain, via paying clients, a financial book that is in the black in relation to revenue and cost.

Sherry Villanueva - April 30th, 2022 at 2:00pm

What's the transformation you're seeking that will help you be a masterful coach?

The transformation I am seeking, as I consider a Coaching future, is to be able to separate the ingrained psychotherapy approach from my many years of private practice and become comfortable in the simple yet powerful use of the specific coaching tools learned in this class. I will be more intentional in moving more from archeological to the architectural approach with clients. There is a therapy approach called Solution Focused Therapy that is very much present and future minded in working with clients. I will reacquainted myself with the modality and see what similarities it has with Coaching. It may help me feel still somewhat attached to my therapy roots with the bonus of enhancing my Coaching practice without deviating from the fidelity of the coaching model.

What do you wish to celebrate by the end of 2022 related to your coaching business, being a certified coach, or using your coaching skills in your personal and professional settings?

I have been working with a coach recently and the focus of our work together is practicing thinking outside the box. I am intentionally pushing myself at this stage of life to think even bigger than I have before, knowing that within the margins of the "bigger" is a very realistic and creative niche I can dive into. My goal is to have a working plan by July 4, 2022.

What small steps will you take today or this week that are aligned your coaching goals?

I have an idea that I'm playing around with in my head. I've decided to test the validity of my idea by contacting individuals and businesses that are similar in nature to what I have in mind and "pick their brain." I have a call list made up and I am setting aside time each day to make at least one call. I will also continue solidifying my plan through the creation of a vision board. I am going to make the vision board part of my dreaming and meditation time each day.

Nathan Luitjens - May 2nd, 2022 at 3:05pm

As I think about becoming a masterful coach there are two things that I really want to be working on. The first is active listening, and curbing the urge to jump in and give advice, instead allowing the other person to really work out for themselves what the best steps forward might be. The other piece for me is working on asking powerful questions. Given my work, I don't nearly as much about the churches and communities where our pastors are working than they do, so they are the experts and how do I ask them the questions that provoke awareness and help them see new possibilities.

I took this class to make me better at my job in working with pastors and churches to help them discover how God might be inviting them to be part of what God is doing. Therefore this is more about my becoming better at what I am already doing rather than getting certified at this time.

The small step for me is to just watch how often I talk and instead to focus on really actively listening to what people are saying to me.