Coach Interview Series: Mike Weaver

by Brandon

Mike Weaver

Leadership and Influence Coach

Our main objective here at the National Coach Academy is to enable aspiring coaches to reach their full professional potential. One of the most effective ways to educate students about the world of coaching is by offering them a window into the world of real, practicing coaches and showing them all the different ways coaches make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We hope today’s interview adds another insightful glimpse into the dynamic world of coaching.

Today we are interviewing Mike Weaver. Mike is a Pastor, Leadership Coach and Influence Coach based in Columbus, Ohio.

NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?

Mike: I am a certified influence coach and a leadership coach and I develop and serve leaders to become more influential in their work. I also work with pastors in that area of influence. I’ve worked with all kinds of folks — entrepreneurs and business owners and I’ve even had an athlete client, as well.

NCA: Can you talk a little bit about some of the most common challenges that your clients come to you trying to overcome or hurdles that they’re trying to jump over?

Mike: Generally speaking, the clients I serve are smart, accomplished, and intelligent. There’s a wisdom about them. The challenge that they face is they get in their own way. Maybe they overthink something or they’re putting something off that they need to think about because they don’t have anybody to think it through with.

There’s a lot of solo pastors out there that don’t have a staff. The way I serve them as a coach is I become a de facto staff for them, in a sense. I create space for them to process a solution that they’re searching for. We might brainstorm an idea like “Here’s an idea that I think has merit. Let’s put some legs underneath it and see where we could go with it.”

I’ve had conversations like, “How do I approach this decision with this group of people? What’s my role in it and how do I present myself in that situation to help that solution to come out organically from the group as opposed to just being the leader?”

NCA: What initially got you interested in becoming a coach and secondary to that, what kind of degree or certifications did you need to complete, if any?

Mike: I got into coaching because I was coached myself. I’ve been a pastor now for 21 years. About 5 to 7 years ago, I was in a place mentally where I felt there’s just something more specific that I need to do with this career than just the general work I’ve been doing over the last 14 years. I kept asking the question and as a Christian, I was praying. “What is the best way I can do the most good?” I wasn’t looking for a good way. I wasn’t looking for “That’d be kind of nice.” No, I was looking for literally the best way I can do the most good in this world.

I asked a friend of mine who’s a pastor and a coach who coached me around that question. We spent 6 months at least looking at facets to that question but also looking underneath it as far as my life and my relationships. We put everything on the table. Literally every possible vocation I could think of that could be the most good based on how I’m designed and who I am as a person and as a leader. And what it boiled down to was coaching.

I entered a coaching certification through Erickson Coaching, based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. They have a lot of online classes. I embarked on a 2-year certification process through Erickson to look at becoming a certified coach. The longer process was great for me as I didn’t just want a 6-week certification to be a coach. I wanted a more in-depth certification that dealt with the neuroscience and psychology behind coaching. They based a lot of it on Milton Erickson’s psychological framework of the 20th century. Also, solutions-focused coaching — looking at a problem, not dwelling in a problem — and saying “Here’s the problem and what’s the solution that you’re searching for and let’s connect the dots between the problem and the solution.” That was my training.

After that, I became an influence coach at the Keller Influence Institute. They offered a different certification that took an in-depth look at what influence is and the psychological basis for influence and what makes up an influential person beyond what they do.

It’s similar probably to becoming a counselor, therapist, or certainly a pastors. There’s a lot of self-reflection and gut checking like, “Is this really what I want to do? Am I really equipped to do this?” Because we’re dealing with people’s lives. This is not some easy fix for people. These people put their trust in the coach. I’d rather be really self-aware and know where I’m coming from and be centered in it so I can serve that person really, really well because it’s their life at stake. They’re not coming to the coaches on a whim. There’s something going on. Self-reflection is really important for that process.

It’s a privilege for me to be a part of that process, to co-create a process with my client, and out of that conversation I have with my client, other people are benefitting. It’s like concentric circles of benefit and it started with the conversation that that pastor and I had.

NCA: Can you talk about the most rewarding part of your career and on the flip side of that, what is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

Mike: I love coaching for a whole bunch of reasons. Primarily, I get to co-create a future with a leader. What’s interesting for me — coming from a pastor’s point of view when I coach pastors — is when I see that pastor really begin to thrive and make some choices that are going to be a positive impact on the people they serve. I catch myself going “Wow.”

It’s a privilege for me to be a part of that process, to co-create a process with my client, and out of that conversation I have with my client, other people are benefitting. It’s like concentric circles of benefit and it started with the conversation that that pastor and I had. That’s really a sobering and humbling and a deep joy for me to be part of that process.

What’s challenging is to be fully present. To be fully there and listening really, really deeply. I’m still in the process of learning how to listen even more effectively than I do. There’s so much more I can do with that. To be fully present with someone. That’s the challenge I face.

I look at coaching as a craft. It’s an artform and the artist’s job is to primarily get excellent in their craft. With my work as a coach, I need to be excellent at that because I’m serving people.

NCA: Can you think of a mentor in your life who was the most vital to your success as a coach and in what ways did this mentor help you thrive in your career?

Mike: I can think of two. What both mentors have done is they didn’t let me off the hook and they weren’t afraid to tell me the hard feedback and give me wise counsel. They weren’t afraid to tell me what I needed to hear from their perspective. Whether I agree with it or not, they’re giving me their honest feedback. That was super valuable for me because I can’t see what they can see and they can see things that I can’t. That’s the most valuable piece those mentors have shared with me.

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is just at the beginning stage of their coaching career?

Mike: I would say be patient with yourself and be willing to be bad at first because it’s the way it’s going to be. What I’ve discovered is that even bad coaching has some value for the client because at least, space has been created for that person to share what they want to share. Because if the coach does way too much talking and the client never talks, that’s not going to work.

Coaches that have a good intention behind them — those that really want to be present and are still working on their craft — there’s going to be some value for that client. That’s where the patience comes in. A coach doesn’t need to beat himself or herself up for like, “Oh, that was just terrible.” There’s something to work on but that client probably got something of value from it.

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