Many coaches, including myself, often don’t see themselves as leader in their coaching role. However, there are many connections we can find between coaching and leadership. Leadership and leaders, in this context, means the characteristics and actions related to leading others, not as specific administrative role in a school, in a school structure.
As coaches begin to see themselves as leaders, what can they do in their coaching role to provide leadership as their school or organization works to develop and meet goals?
Two Surprising Roles for Coaches
In this post, I’ve referred to the work of Joellen, Killion and Cindy Harrison and their development of a list of 10 possible roles and responsibilities of coaches.
In addition to the obvious roles, such as resource provider, instructional specialists and mentor, Killion & Harrison include two roles that many coaches don’t always associate with their job, or might not feel comfortable or experienced to take on.
One is school leader, which is when, as coaches, we work collaboratively collaboratively with leaders, formally and informally to “plan, implement and assess school change and initiatives to ensure alignment and focus on intended results”.
Another role that many coaches are surprised to see as a potential goal of theirs is catalyst for change. Also referred to as change agent Kilion and Harrison explained that as a coach, you can promote change by making observations, asking questions and introducing alternatives or refinements regarding current practice. This sounds challenging for some coaches, but we can find ways to respectfully advocate for inquiry into and consideration for improvements in our school.
Preparing for These Roles
As I reflect on my own journey, I’m going to share five steps I’ve been working through in regards to my own growth in the leadership aspects of my role as a coach.
1:: Accept that as a coach, you are also a leader
Reflect on how you are already a leader in your school – even if it’s a reluctant leader. I use the quote from John Quincy Adams. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”.
2:: Clarify your role in relation to the school’s mission and vision and goals
Reflect on your job as a coach. How does your job description provide you opportunities to lead others in your one-to-one interactions with teachers, with teams and groups and committees have conversations with administration about how you as a coach play a role in supporting, promoting the school’s mission, vision, and look for opportunities for you to advocate your involvement individual and school-wide initiatives.
3:: Familiarize yourself with change theory and management
This will give you some frameworks and strategies and how change can be effectively implemented. There are a lot of great resources, including the work of Michael Fullan, who has written a variety of articles and books on inspiring and leading change in education, including change leader, six secrets of change and leading in a culture of change. There are also helpful resources from the business world that I found applicable to education, including Simon Sinek, author of start with why and leaders eat last. He has some really inspiring videos as well. I’ve also found lots of useful articles and podcasts via Harvard business review.
4:: Build up your facilitation skills and strategies as a coach
One of your main skill is in how you handle coaching conversations, especially listening, asking questions and giving feedback. In addition, especially when working with groups, you want to consider gaining some skills and experience in facilitating discussions and meetings. A couple of organizations for facilitation, training and resources, including very useful protocols for a variety of situations include the national school reform, faculty, critical friends, school reform initiatives, and adapt to schools.
5:: Build your PLN for support and ideas and resources
Follow leadership experts in organizations on social media, such as Simon Sinek and Michael Fullan, the Harvard business review, and organizations like Learning Forward and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Seek out opportunities to learn more about leadership.
I found myself gravitating towards sessions about leaderships offered at conferences. I tend to learn more and make connections with my work. As a coach, try to find a mentor. This could be someone who is a leader formally or informally in your school or that, you know, from your PLN. At Eduro Learning, we offer private mentoring packages all year, as well as The Coach Certificate program, which opens for registration once a year.
Now some or even all of these steps in preparing to facilitate and lead change as a coach can really push you out of your comfort zone, but at least test the waters and start with something that you already, that you’re ready for – even if that is just starting with accepting your role as a leader in your school and reflecting on what that means.
Once you recognize the opportunities you have to grow as a leader, you can start to build the knowledge and skills that will support you in that role. And in turn provides support and leadership for positive and sustainable change within your school or organization.
Watch the 5 Min Fri
- Coaches’ Multiple Roles Support Teaching And Learning By Joellen Killion and Cindy Harrison (Learning Forward)
- Michael Fullan https://michaelfullan.ca/
- Simon Sinek https://simonsinek.com/
- Harvard Business Review and HBR Podcasts
- National School Reform Faculty (Critical Friends) School Reform Initiative
- Adaptive Schools (Thinking Collaborative)
- Learning Forward
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ASCD
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