What do these expert leaders have in common?
The answer to the question is that each of these outstanding leaders in their field of work has a coach, as do many other expert leaders. Nowadays educational leaders are becoming increasingly interested in leadership coaching too. I wonder why? Here are 6 related questions, with my responses.
Why is coaching becoming popular with educational leaders?
A research project I was involved in revealed that, more than anything else, experienced school leaders wanted high quality leadership coaching for their professional growth and learning. They see other prominent leaders benefitting from coaching. Understandably, they now want coaching too.
Which educational leaders want leadership coaching?
It’s no longer only principals who want coaching, including highly experienced principals of very successful schools. For example, I coach principals, deputy principals, system leaders in education, advisers who work with school leaders, system level leadership teams, and senior leadership teams in schools. These people are in all types of schools and educational systems.
Why do highly experienced educational leaders want coaching?
They have a hunger for critical feedback that will be honest and helpful for them to keep on getting better at leading improvement. As well, a coach can help them acquire new leadership skills and hone their existing skills. Leadership is tough work. A coach can be a great sounding board to help design productive responses to burning issues and simultaneously enhance leadership performance.
Why do some school leaders not want or think they won’t benefit from coaching?
Coaching models are as diverse as school leaders. A principal, for example, may not know what these different models are and could make assumptions about what they think coaching is or is not. Coaching can be confronting too. It requires being vulnerable in order to get better. Just like a rugby player does before and after a big game, or a concert pianist pre and post-performance.
How does a coach respond to what a leader wants?
You need to understand each leader’s unique context and priorities. This requires lots of empathetic listening and respectful inquiry. Once you’ve both reached a good understanding of the coaching focus, together you explore and test strategies and plan responses that will be effective and efficient, and eliminate those that won’t be. As well, a coach needs to invite and be responsive to feedback about the quality of their coaching and be prepared to make adjustments.
Does performance improve as a result of leadership coaching?
Educational leaders become more capable and confident at responding effectively to their dilemmas when coaching is performance-based. They start to see things differently, talk differently about their problems, and shift their behaviour to become more productive when they work with their people. Performance leadership coaching helps a leader address their teaching and learning priorities, thereby indirectly contributing to improved student outcomes.