Tag Archives: coaching

Quick Review: Ask More

I read Frank Sesno’s Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change. It was published in early 2017 and I’ve been going through several books that deal with question asking in different ways.  I reviewed Conflict Coaching recently which contains large sections related to question asking when coaching people through conflict situations. Leadership Coaching contains great content on asking different types of questions to get at the heart and help someone problem solve in different ways.

But I really enjoyed this book as well for different reasons. It was really easy reading but set up in a way that was very helpful. Each chapter was basically self-contained which allows the book to have multiple resources for different contexts.  The chapters are designed around different contexts or types of questions so you get deeper dives on categories like diagnostic questions, strategic questions, empathy questions, scientific questions, confrontational questions,  hosting questions, mission questions, legacy questions, and others.  The author was a significant reporter and utilizes his connections to draw on some big names to illustrate the different sections. For example, Gen. Colin Powell is interviewed in “strategic questions,” Anderson Cooper contributes to “confrontational questions, ” and several other big names like Sandra Day O’Conner and others contribute a lot of wisdom and insight.

The chapter I found most helpful was the mission questions chapter and it would seem to be a great resource for some of the courses I teach. The empathy and hosting questions were helpful as were the diagnostic questions.  The most interesting or challenging set of questions was the confrontational questions – how to use questions to hold people accountable.

One of the things I liked was the way it sought to help someone prepare and be intentional with the questions they ask in different situations. It gives great criteria and guidance for developing the questions needed.  One area that I think was not really addressed was the role of culture in terms of questions in some of these areas. The author touches briefly on culture in the final main chapter and occasional through a few different anecdotes, one involving Yasser Arafat for example, but it’s a bigger variable than what is sometimes acknowledged.

The book has a helpful appendix section where there are abbreviated “refreshers” of each main chapter that gives a summary and review to help retain the information and as a quick reference section which I’ve found helpful.

It’s a helpful resource. For audio folks, it’s a great listen. But I’ll be picking up a hard copy so I can use sections in classes in the future.  But there’s going to be a lot of value in this book for just about everyone given the wide range of questions involved.


Quick Review: Conflict Coaching

I’ve been working through the textbook Conflict Coaching: Conflict Management Strategies and Skills for the Individual by Tricia S. Jones and Ross Brinkert over the past few weeks.  It was written about 15 years ago when conflict coaching was just starting to become more popular in the dispute resolution world.

Jones and Brinkert introduce their Comprehensive Conflict Coaching Model, which has a lot of narrative dimensions to it as well as a lot of components that are quite helpful to negotiation, conflict coaching, and mediation. The general flow of the process begins with discovering refining the story in a conflict and then proceeds towards deeper reflection about story through the lenses of identity, emotion, and power. That provides the foundation for crafting a better story in a conflict situation and working skillfully through relationship building forms of communication.

The dimension of the model I find most helpful is the intentional process of helping facilitate reflection in identity, emotion, and power. This is what makes or breaks conflict in my opinion and lack of reflection in these areas is often where people get stuck.

Like many narrative or secular dispute resolution models, there is no treatment of themes like forgiveness, confession, or apology. There is only conversation about how to shape a better story with others, which I believe metaphorically is a great way to envision an alternative future. But that future has limits without heart change and the dynamics of reconciliation. I believe combining heart work and Biblical approaches to reconciliation with this type of narrative framework for working through conflict can be very powerful, but there are problems if we just try to move forward without dealing with hearts.

That being said, this is a tremendous resource for people who want to do a deeper dive into conflict coaching and mediation. There’s a lot of great research and scholarship pulled into this that makes for a lot of great research-based insights and learnings.



Quick Review: Leadership Coaching

Over the past couple of months I was going through the book Leadership Ccoaching: The Disciplines, Skills, and Heart of a Christian Coach by Tony Stoltzfus and it’s such a great resource for leaders. Here’s some of why it was so helpful to me.

First – it goes after the heart, both in the coach and as the target of transformation in coming alongside others. The approach to coming alongside others puts a high value on honoring people and what God may be doing in the deeper places as the roots of their behavior. It was a refreshing focus and right on.

Second – he offers a helpful framework and paradigm for coaching that I thought allowed me to get a really good handle on the main components of the theory.

Third – maybe this is the best part of the book, but the book includes so many questions to use and they are grouped and categorized in helpful ways. I had not put much thought into categorizing types of coaches for different purposes, but that’s been really helpful for me to think about different groupings of questions according to what they are really trying to accomplish in conversation or in coaching.

If you are not aware of the industry of “coaching,” this is a growing part of the leadership community and business world that is recognizing the power of non-directive coaching. Instead of “telling” someone solutions or answers, a coach helps the other person “discover” or find the solutions themselves mostly through questions. This includes accountability, listening, question asking as mentioned, and discernment.  It’s a really important skill set for any leader and there’s a lot of books that are trying to pass on those skill sets.  This book blends those skill sets with the Christian commitment to heart change as the center of all transformative work.

This book finds a permanent place in my leadership toolbox and I’ve already gone back to it to review certain types of questions relevant to different conversations I’ve been in.

Highly recommend it! I’m convinced that the core principles of this book involve areas of development for just about every person out there so chances are it will really help you even if you’re not functioning as a professional coach.

Quick Review: The Coaching Habit

As I continue to read various things on coaching, I read Michael Bungay Stanier’s The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever.  The book is a fairly concise toolkit for coaching conversations along with helpful insights as to why coaching is the most effective way to come alongside others.

At the heart of the book are 7 questions that can provide a basic questions roadmap to a lot o coaching conversations. Here they are…

Stanier’s Seven Essential Coaching Questions:

  1. “What’s on your mind?” (The Kickstart Question)
  2. “And what else? (The AWE Question)
  3. “What’s the real challenge here for you?” (The Focus Question)
  4. “What do you want?” (The Foundation Question)
  5. “How can I help?” (The Lazy Question)
  6. “If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?” (The Strategic Question)
  7. “What was most useful to you about this conversation?” (The Learning Question)

The key for all of these questions is the coach exercising self-control and not offering advice to short-circuit the learning by discovery Stanier calls it taming the advice monster.

There was a helpful chapter here talking about the dynamics of “helping” that was helpful. He demonstrates through his “Drama Triangle” how there are 3 typical roles people find themselves in – victim, perpetrator, and rescuer. All of these work against adulthood and flourishing. Questions like the above questions help pull people out of any of those 3 roles they might be in and push them towards responsibility.

This was definitely worth the money as there’s great nuggets throughout and it’s overly heady or verbose. It’s practical wisdom and insight that can really help someone become a better coach, leader, or supervisor. I recommend it if you haven’t done read much on coaching.


Quick Review: Coaching In Ministry

I wanted to pass on a quick and easy resource that was helpful. Keith Webb is one of the big names in Christian coaching and Coaching in Ministry is a short apologetic for coaching’s role in ministry and Christian leadership.

The central notion of this book and overall approach is captured in Webb’s statement that he believes that coaching is the missing ingredient in leadership development. I would probably agree with him and that’s part of why I’m starting to read a lot more and practice a more coaching approach.

The coaching industry has been a growing one that is focused on helping individuals discover next steps for themselves towards results and success instead of “telling” people solutions which don’t translate to ownership and transformation. Research overwhelmingly validates that coaching for discovery is an important and strategic approach to seeing changed lives.

This book is not very long, but he does introduce a few of the questions he has found to be most powerful, including the implementation question, “What could you to help yourself move forward in this area?”  Questions like these allow someone to think, internalize, and own the solution. It’s a higher order approach and it translates to “less work” according to Webb since leaders can use questions to stop solving problems they shouldn’t be solving for others, but to keep the responsibility on the shoulders they belong to.

I’ll post a few more books in the coming weeks related to coaching. This one is typically 99 cents on amazon and only about 80 low stress pages to read. You can probably do it in 2 hours. Webb has another book called The COACH model which I hope to get to soon that is the full treatment of his approach to coaching.


Delegation versus Empowerment in Reproducing Leaders

The Epic Movement Resource Site just released a post today written by my dad Tom Virtue.   He wrote on empowerment and it’s worth checking out his thoughts on what empowerment is and is not, how it differs from delegation, and what leaders who aim to empower have to be willing to let go of.

You can find the post here:

2011-2012 Systems & Power Leadership Community Starting Soon!

Are you looking to increase your leadership capacity and deepen your leadership presence?

The second cohort of the leadership learning group will launch in  October of 2011 and I’m looking for 10-12 leaders who are interested in exploring the themes of identity in leadership formation, leadership in the context of emotional and relational systems, power and servant leadership, and leadership development in  the context of organizational life.

This may be a great opportunity for you to go a little deeper into these themes with a few other quality people.  If you know someone that would be all about this opportunity, please let them know about this as well!

Right now I’m estimating that about 1/3 of the spots are already taken, but there’s room for more.

Testimonials from Past Participants

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Read below for a summary of the vision, intended outcomes, and basic structure of the 7 month time line for those interested in this opportunity.

If you are seriously interested in participating in the 2011-2012 Leadership Learning Community, fill out the short request/application and I’ll follow up with you in the near future to let you know if there’s a spot for you:

For those wanting stated objectives and more info, here’s the breakdown of what we’re going after in this experience.

Purpose: To provided a guided leadership learning journey and experience in community centered around leadership formation in the context of teams and organizations for the purpose of building leadership capacity and wisdom.

Intended Outcomes:

  • Develop a basic foundation and working knowledge of family/congregational systems theory as it relates to teams, congregations, or organizations.
  • Develop a holistic paradigm of leadership formation that integrates spiritual maturity, emotional maturity, and identity.
  • Develop a strong foundation and framework for stewarding power, empowering others, and being a servant-leader in identity and practice.

Structure & Details:

  • Roughly an 7 month time-table.
  • Who?  Available to to Epic Movement, CCC/Cru Staff, and any other leader who is motivated by the intended outcomes.
  • Monthly Commitment of about 14-16 hours or about 4 hrs/week.  Monthly Video Conf. Call (1 1/2 – 2 hrs), Movie (2 hrs), Reading (8 hrs), Discussion Forum & Assignments (2-4 hrs)
  • Cost:  Free apart from cost of several books and several movie rentals and headset perhaps for video conference calls.
  • Monthly conference call/video chat (1 1/2 – 2 hrs) covering reading and other assignments for the month and to discuss key themes covered that month. We’ll probably use Google + for this.
  • Books and readings (6 books; roughly 8 hrs reading per month)
  • Movies and Media (1 movie per month)
  • One Monthly Online Discussion Forum to have ongoing dialogue between conference calls related to readings, learning moments, and media based discussion.

This not an official enterprise of “Epic Movement” or “Campus Crusade for Christ/Cru Global.”  However, I will give priority first to any Epic Movement or EFM staff that would like to explore this, though leaders from all ministry contexts are invited. Everyone needs to be engaged in leadership in some way or on a leadership team on some level.  There will likely be a bias towards the ministry context, but I believe it will be relevant and just as friendly to other leadership contexts.

If you are not sure you want to do this, but want more information – fill out the above form anyway and share some of your questions and thoughts and I’ll get in touch with you to talk more.

This is one of my favorite things to do and hope you consider participating this year or in the future!

Last Coaching Group Update!

Wanted to give a quick update on the leadership coaching group I’m getting going here in the next couple weeks.I’m pretty excited that the coaching group at this point has hit the cap I set for it – 8 participants. Very cool!  I’m really looking forward to getting it off the ground.But if you’re still thinking about it I’m not shutting the door just yet.  If at least 2 more people are ready to commit after contacting me I’ll open up a second group. Some things we’ll be able to do all together, but the monthly video conference sessions would need to be divided up into two groups as their will be enough numbers for two solid groups there as opposed to one very large group.  So if you’re still thinking about it, contact me ASAP (via a comment here, twitter, or by emailing me at bvirtue at gmail dot com).  The link to the last summary of the group is http://brianvirtue.org/2010/09/leadership-coaching-group-update/This started as an idea a few years ago and it’s pretty motivating and exciting that this is coming together right now.For those already in, I’ll be getting some things out over the next couple days to you!

Missional Coaching (Article)

In the future I’ll be converting some resources or articles I’ve written and start to polish up and consolidate them on this site since most haven’t been in any accessible place up to this point.This is an article that I wrote I believe in 2005 for the purpose of helping train coaches of short-term mission teams going into team briefings and debriefings.  I’ve updated it a bit, put it in a rough template, and adapted it a bit for broader application and the coaching of any missional team or community.  I’ll be moving articles or resources like this to an updated resource page on the site soon.If you do a lot of coaching ministry teams, this may be a helpful resource for you.