Leadership Coaching: Facilitating and Supporting Change

By Goalfinder.com, License CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

By Goalfinder.com, License CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Coaches can help their clients in self-discovery to make sure that energy drains are overcome for a healthy and successful life. Coaches help each client consider their whole life, both personal and professional as one affects the other. Coaches are open-minded and embark on a journey full of possibility with clients. They help clients clarify goals and identify actions to achieve the goals, and to reflect on progress to refine enactment. They encourage leaders to have a positive attitude about their life and responsibilities and help develop the leader as a whole person. Every leader has multiple roles in a workplace including that of individual as well as member of the organization. A leadership coach considers all the roles of a person in coaching him.

Reiss identifies 8 factors necessary for successful change, many of which parallel factors in coaching. They include passionate commitment, attention and focus, vision, action, support, letting go of deterrence, being aware of beliefs that hold you back, and challenging assumptions (Knight, 2008, p. 186). Brain research shows that people can train their brain to create change, and that new thoughts coupled with action leads to new behavior. Brain research shows four areas of brain function that explain the effectiveness of coaching: attention, reflection, insight and action.

Brain connection develops through use and practice. By giving attention to actions related to a solution rather than a problem, a person builds new helpful connections in the brain.

Reflection provides access to the right side of the brain which is more emotional/sensing.

Conversations between the coach and client provide insight that provide energy for action.

A person will have the most success if she uses the energy produced by insight to push her goal forward through action. Insight reveals thoughts and allows a person to choose new thoughts which can channel action.

Hiring a new leader can be an expensive endeavor for schools. It may be prudent for schools to look into coaching existing leaders, which also increases job satisfaction and retention. In the event where a school/district needs to hire a new leader, leadership coaching smooths the transition and established a course of success for the new leader in the job.

In education, we talk about educating the whole child. We understand that children are not robots who can turn off and on for learning, and that the experiences and circumstances of a child outside of school affect their school life. It stands to reason that the same is true of adults. The roots of a professional problem may be linked to a personal problem; the best results will be achieved by addressing the problems and their interactions together. It seems to me that the factors in leadership coaching also apply to other types of coaching as well.

Some years ago, at a previous job, one of my professional development goals was to work with a mentor. What is a mentor but coach as expert? I see the value of coaching as a means of professional development. In my role of technology coordinator, which comprises different roles at different times, knowing about and being able to apply the components of coaching would be beneficial to me, to those that I work with, and to my organization.

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 8: Leadership Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

Leadership Coaching: Role and Actions

Image by Adrian Trendall: License. CC BY-SA 3.0

Image by Adrian Trendall. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Many people who have not experienced coaching have little understanding of the process and believe that coaching is only useful for fixing people. However coaching is useful for refining skills and gaining new skills that can be professional, personal or interpersonal. Coaching requires training and professional coaches have a minimum of 125 hours of training and practice in being an effective coach.

A coach listens to what is being said for the underlying thoughts and beliefs to help the client to identify priorities and implement them. In addition to dialogue and discourse, the coach advises the coachee in self-observation and reflection to guide or modify practice. The aim of the coach is not to fix the coachee, but rather to ignite the coachee’s potential to attain her goals. The recipe for effective coaching in the form of memorable results includes mixing “skills, attitudes, and process with a trusting relationship” (p. 178, Knight, 2008).

Leadership coaching is based on a trusting, confidential relationship. This makes it hard for supervisors who have an evaluative role to be a coach to those that they evaluate. A school leader cannot effectively coach person when there is no trust, confidentiality, honesty or openness in their relationship. There may be a conflict of interest if the coach is also the evaluating supervisor. However, all leaders can apply leadership coaching skills to modify the way that they communicate and act with staff to encourage them to use a growth mindset for desired change and improvement. Reiss lists seven behaviours of leaders applying a coaching style to help employees identify a goal for improvement and an appropriate intervention.  The key to a coaching style of leadership is for the leader to be able to have open, non-judgmental conversations with employees focused on the attainment of a specific goal.

School leaders can become more effective by working with a coach, and can also build their leadership coaching skills to guide employees, students or anyone in the process of change. One of the biggest areas of support for school leaders is on developing their interpersonal skills, and their capacity for dealing with change. Coaches can make a difference in attaining outcomes through their inspiration, curiosity, compassion, courage, thinking, problem-solving and support; this summarizes Reiss’ list of 10 attributes. Coaches help their clients find a way to make their goal a reality.

Coaches are becoming more commons in schools and school districts. Research is beginning to show the value of coaching as part of professional development for teachers. Ideally, a person interested in coaching would have a choice of coaches who do not supervise him and would select one that fits his needs.

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 8: Leadership Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

Leadership Coaching

In Chapter 8: Leadership Coaching, Karla Reiss discusses the value of coaching as embodying the best components of professional development. She presents the view that coaching is personalised to the needs of the leader to realise the goals of an organisation. She explains that coaching is necessary for transformational change, and should be viewed as “a process, leadership style, and continuous improvement strategy” (Knight, 2008, p. 168). She recognises the need for studies on the effect of coaching on leadership in schools, and presents research from industry which shows that coaching has a positive impact on the leader and the organisation in a broad range of areas including job satisfaction, beliefs about coaching, organisational structure, relevant skills, and tenure.

Reiss states that every leader can get better with coaching.  Coaching is individualised and contextualised with a focus on flexibility and growth mindset to help leaders deal with changes and achieve their mission and vision. Leaders can also apply a coaching approach to their leadership through weekly meetings to discuss goals, progress made, perceived obstacles, and paths for continued progress. The most important skills of a coach are listening and questioning to learn about the person being coached, the situation, and the context to support the coach in coming up with individualised solutions that will lead to success.

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 8: Leadership Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.