What is Coaching Influence?
Back in my college years, my denomination was recoiling from years of the influence of overly controlling, authoritarian denominational leadership. My college professors were at the forefront of that realignment. Because they grew up being told what to believe right down to the petty details, they were determined not to put their views on us—to the point where they wouldn’t tell us anything about their personal faith. They so valued freedom of choice in faith issues (what they didn’t have when they were young) that they hid their own beliefs for fear of influencing us.
Of course, they failed. In the very act of trying not to exert influence, they modeled an anti-authoritarian value system—and modeling is a form of influence! The result was that a whole generation of students swung to the opposite pole and eschewed authority and leadership altogether. The denomination is still recovering.
It is impossible for leaders in influential roles not to exert influence. Your clients have come to you for help—therefore you are in a coaching influence role in their lives. Your values will shape the coaching process no matter how hard you try to be neutral.
Let’s be honest: we do exert coaching influence on our clients. I’m not trying to say that we should cast off restraint and push our clients into whatever we want for them. We are coaches, not mentors or consultants. But to back off completely and operate as if whatever the client desires is appropriate is still functioning within a value system—just not a biblical one. There is no “off” button that magically allows you to be values-neutral with your clients.
Tony Stoltzfus is an author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. Additional information on this topic can be found in Tony’s book, Leadership Coaching.