When I first joined the leadership team at Church of the King in Mandeville, Louisiana my Senior Pastor asked me a very important question. “Gary, what do we do at Church of the King?” Because I knew this was a very important question and I didn’t want to be the shortest tenured staff person ever on the leadership team, I was nervous as I carefully thought about my answer.  “We build people Pastor Steve”, I responded.  “That’s right Gary! We build people!” exclaimed Pastor Steve. “And I want you to help put in place the professional development processes needed for people to fulfill their potential on our team.”  And with that Big Holy Awesome Goal, I began to work with the members of our team to develop and implement a formal professional development process to support our corporate vision of reaching people and building lives, including the people on our staff.

Leadership Principle #1: Building People Requires Great Coaching Leaders  

Recently, I heard of the Vivian Maier story where a young man discovered that over the course of Vivian’s life, she had taken over 100,000 street pictures which were never developed. As I contemplated this true story, I wondered to myself why would someone take over 100,000 pictures and never share them with anyone.  Could it be that she was afraid of the critique from others?  I’m not sure, but it would not surprise me.  In fact, in the parable of the talents, there was a servant who hid his talents in the ground because he was afraid that his master would be a hard man of critique [Matt 25:24-25].  Or perhaps Vivian Maier suffered the experience of having someone in her life wound her in a way that caused her to never want to risk the vulnerability of sharing her most extraordinary gift and talent – capturing the authentic essence of street life through photography. Either way, it seems sad to me that she would live her whole life and never really share her talent for the benefit of others while she lived.

In an interview, I heard Coach Tony Dungy share a bad experience that he once had with a poor coach when he was a young football player in high school. Being terribly discouraged with his coach, he made the decision to quit the team and never return to football; however, fortunately for him and us, his high school principal took a real interest in him.  So when the principal found out that Tony had quit the team, the principal took the time to speak with Tony and encourage him to never quit on account of someone else, but rather, get back in the game and do what he loved to do – playing football. Just imagine what may have never happened in Coach Tony’s life and ours if his principal didn’t take the time to care about him and be a real genuine life coach to him at a crucial point in his young developing life.  The world may have never seen Coach Tony Dungy become one of the best super bowl world champion football coaches of our time. How thankful we should be for great coaching leaders like Coach Tony Dungy’s principal and Coach Tony Dungy himself!

Leadership Principle #2: Building People Requires A Great Coaching Process

In his book, Becoming A Coaching Leader, Daniel Harkavy states that “Coaching leaders want great people to develop in great ways, and they want to be an integral part of the process.”  To me, that is exactly what it means to be a great coaching leader and is also the reason why it is so important for organizations to have a big holy awesome goal of sincerely developing people through an effective performance review process.  However, to have an effective performance review and people development process, the process must first begin with the establishment of goals and objectives – personal goals that support a person’s life plan and team goals that support their team’s strategic plan.

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice asks Cheshire Cat, “Can you tell me which way I should walk from here?” “Well, that depends a good deal on where you want to get to” said Cheshire Cat.  “I don’t much care where” said Alice.  “Then it doesn’t really matter which way you walk” said Cheshire Cat.  Without having to say much more, this little famous tale rings so true in our own lives when it comes to life planning and strategic planning.  If we don’t care where we are going, then it doesn’t really matter if we develop a plan to get there or not.  However, if we have a destiny and a purpose to fulfill in our lives and in our organizations, then it would be very wise to take the time to write down the vision and establish the necessary goals and objectives that will help us get there just as the Bible commands in Habakkuk 2:2.  Unfortunately though, most people don’t like to do this and therefore they don’t.

To me, it’s kind of like choosing to take the stairs or to take the escalators when going to another level in a department store.  I’m told that less than 10% of people will actually take the stairs when there are escalators available because people prefer to take the easy way to the top. When it comes to our goals, people are the same way because less than 10% of people will actually take the time to write down their goals and objectives that support their personal life plans and organizational strategic plans.  But unlike the case of taking the stairs or the escalators to the next level in a department store, there is no escalator or easy way to the top of the next level with our life purposes and our organizational missions.  Writing down our goals and objectives is actually part of the escalator that will take us to the next level and there isn’t really any other intentional practical way to do it.  In fact, it has been shown that people who write down their goals and objectives are much more likely to achieve their goals than those that do not develop such simple discipline and accountability.

Leadership Principle #3: Building People Requires Great Coaching Feedback

Therefore, in order for a person and a team to achieve their goals and objectives, leaders must be intentional about what they want to accomplish in any given year which is why we include a goal setting process for personal and team goals to be reviewed weekly, monthly, and annually through our reporting and professional development process.  To help us do this, we have created the following simple tools to facilitate an effective process:

1)      Goal Templates for Personal and Team Goals

2)      Annual Performance Review and Professional Development Plan Document

3)      Organizational Core Values and Team Values

As it relates to core values, Ken Blanchard teaches that “values are to be lived; not framed”, therefore, it is very important that an annual performance review and professional development process also include a component of review for behavioral alignment with an organization’s values.  In fact, if we don’t include the practical living out of our values in the coaching and development process, but rather only address the technical aspects of people’s personal growth and development, it would be as if we expected people to fly a plane with one wing.  It’s not until we have the courage as leaders to address people’s behavioral development in relationship to our values as well as their technical development in relationship to their job responsibilities that we actually help them grow and develop in a well-rounded way that empowers and equips them to achieve their fullest potential.

Leadership Principle #4: Building People Requires Great Coaching Love For People

And lastly, because Colossians 3:14 (CEV) states, “Love is more important than anything else and it ties everything else together”, we believe the fundamental purpose of any performance evaluation is to speak the truth in love in order to sincerely help people grow and develop.  It’s certainly not to give a pass or fail grade that values and devalues people through a numerical rating system, but rather, an effective life-giving performance evaluation offers the opportunity for great coaching leaders to provide genuine feedback that will help people learn, grow, and develop their extraordinary God-given potential to make a real difference in life.

Question: How does your organization help coach people in developing their extraordinary God-given potential to make a real difference in life?

Building People – A Big Holy Awesome Goal Copyright 2011, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Building People – A Big Holy Awesome Goal, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.