Executive coaching company Essential Impact and the Guildford Church of the Nazarene were recent recipients of the Coaching for Charity Award, a non-profit U.S. entity dedicated to promoting pro-bono executive coaching.
In April 2010 Pastor Robert Gray started a significant cultural, financial, and organizational change initiative in the Guildford Church. The highly successfully outcome was facilitated through a partnership with Essential Impact’s Executive Coach Dave Busse, who provided individual and team coaching to the finance and strategic planning committees, the Church Board, and congregational members. The church’s higher purpose, vision, and mission were also redefined.
Although the “coach approach” of supporting people and holding them accountable was a collective learning curve, Gray said it was relatively quick because there was buy-in from all parties. Decisions were not made by a select few, “a lot of people had a say.”
Busse skillfully applied the coach approach by asking poignant questions, clarifying the rationale for the change initiative, and discussion of issues in small groups. Individuals felt heard, and understood the facts. A coach approach was taken to making difficult decisions such as laying off paid staff. There were no negative repercussions from this cultural overhaul, and all members stayed with the church.
One year after the change initiative, strategic goals were achieved: the church was “out of the red” and financially stable, trained volunteers were placed, and the church’s new identity and rebranding, which include being a coaching culture, were integrated. The congregation is undergoing a dramatic shift from European-centric to multicultural, which is representative of the local community. A new way of structuring the existing food bank was introduced and a community garden has been established, and coaching continues.
In his own words, Gray acknowledged “I was a horrible listener. Coaching has changed how I work with people. I used to be intimidated, ‘how do I fix this problem?’ Now I help people clear the clutter so they figure out what they need to do. And as a pastor and leader of a congregation, I couldn’t talk to anybody about what I was dealing with. Being coached by Dave was a place for me to get clarity.”
The Guildford Church continues to facilitate Essential Impact’s Social Enterprise Model. Three times a year, youth and adult leaders from the non-profit and corporate sectors register for an experiential 24-hour introduction to coaching workshop. Corporate participants pay the full fee, allowing people from non-profit organizations to attend at minimal or no cost. The Guildford church donates the meeting space and food services. To date, 136 people have enhanced their leadership abilities by learning foundational coaching skills in this highly regarded program.