Pastors, Is Your Past Success Derailing Your Future Success?

Trigena Halley, a Coaching4Clergy faculty member, is a coach who also works with corporations on developing high impact leaders. When I asked how her work could apply to church leaders, here is what she said:

From the perspective of developing high potential corporate leaders, coaching is primarily used to either accelerate/enhance the development of those leaders, and/or to help them overcome “derailing behaviors.” These are generally behaviors that have supported their success in a previous position but now do not serve them well in their current position.


For example, as an executive pastor, someone would be leading the operations of a church – this role is very detailed and operational in nature. When promoted to senior pastor the same person is required to be more visionary – if he or she were to hold tightly to the detail/operational skills that made them successful as an executive pastor, they will likely not be as successful as the senior pastor, so those behaviors now become “derailers.”


One of Marshall Goldsmith’s books, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, is based on this principle. Goldsmith lists four beliefs of successful people that need to be examined and addressed in order for those people to make changes:


1. “I choose to succeed.” Successful people believe they are doing what they choose to do because they choose to do it. It can be difficult for them to let go of ways that have worked in the past and choose to change.


2. “I can succeed.” Successful people believe they have the internal capacity to make desirable things happen. They don’t rely on luck. They often don’t realize they are successful in spite of some of their behaviors, and they could be even more successful if they would make changes.


3. “I will succeed.” Successful people are often relentlessly optimistic, and that can lead to over-commitment.


4. “I have succeeded.” Successful people tend to positively interpret past performance, which can lead to overestimating their impact

Thanks, Trigena, for these fascinating insights from the corporate world!

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J. Val Hastings

J. Val Hastings, MCC, is the Founder and President of Coaching4Clergy, which provides specialized training for pastors, church leaders and coaches. Val is the author of the book The Next Great Awakening: How to Empower God’s People with a Coach Approach to Ministry and the e-book The E3-Church: Empowered, Effective and Entrepreneurial Leadership That Will Keep Your Church Alive. Val currently holds the designation of Master Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, the highest coaching designation.

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