Do you ever think about the ways that coaches play a significant role in shaping the culture of the school and even a district?

Here’s the thing that I know you all know, and sometimes, these nuggets are worth repeating: the adult cultures of a school matter more than we realize. And here’s how you can help. 

I’ve been doing some research – well, a lot of research – around different types of positive leadership styles. There’s the transformational leaders who create the conditions for positive change and evolution; there’s the authentic leaders, who bring their whole-selves to the table and invite you to do the same; there’s the servant leader, who truly lives to empower others, and – my favorite, the heliotropic leader; the ones who serve as a light shining and life-giving force for others. As I was reading, I kept noticing these similarities and overlapping ideas that were being applied to different contexts. For me though, it all boiled down to this: these are all factors in being more Human-oriented in our leadership. As coaches, we do so many of these things naturally. And here’s a way to help you be more intentional about it, and multiply the positive impact you are having on your community.

From all of my research,  I have synthesized some of the traits that HUMAN leaders embody and live out loud, and the letters of the word ‘HUMAN’ will help you remember them. 

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All coaches go through various stages of coaching mastery. Once you identify where you’re at, you can begin to build the skills needed to move to the next stage.

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When you receive your results, you’ll also get your matching case study from the STRIVE Case Studies to see where you fit in the stages of coaching mastery.

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When you complete the quiz, you’ll get:

  • Your matching case study,
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Plus the Case Study Document includes:

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A More H.U.M.A.N.* Approach to Leadership

H: Hone Empathy

Human leaders ‘hone their empathy.’ Brené Brown says empathy is a tool of compassion, and this is something we need to practice daily. When we hone our empathy, we try to gain a deeper understanding of everyone around us; especially those we might not agree with. As coaches, one of our superpowers is listening to our coaching partners, and this is an incredibly powerful way to refine – or hone – our empathy.

U: Understanding

HUMAN leaders don’t just strive to understand others, but we take intentional steps to understand ourselves and who we are as leaders in our schools or districts, and even the world. We are able to separate ourselves from drama and chaos and look upon these situations with curiosity and wonder. We analyze our decisions and reactions and use those insights to make changes that help us grow. Our growth, in turn, helps us be better coaches, and better coaches lead to better teachers.

M: Motivated by a Mission

HUMAN leaders are motivated by a mission, and we help make meaning for others. As coaches, we often have a unique seat ‘on the metaphorical balcony’ where we can see across the school system at how different decisions impact different groups. We’re not locked into one hallway or one section, and that perspective helps us understand what is happening at a deeper level. We then help those we work with see these same things in order to alleviate anxieties or answer lingering questions. And we do this because of our personal missions. No matter what motivates us to do the work we do, we are all driven by something that inspires us to show up each day and do what we can do to make the world a better place. When you can identify what your personal mission is and use that to help others make sense out of what often seems chaotic and convoluted, you bring to life another element of HUMAN leadership.

A: Acknowledging & Anticipating the Unknown

Acknowledging and anticipating the unknown. As HUMAN leaders, we know that not everything is going to go the way we plan, and we’re ok with that. Education in general, and schools in particular, are complex, multilayered systems, and we have to anticipate and acknowledge the unknown. When we are able to do this, we add to our stores of resilience, giving us the strength we need to venture forth into uncertainty. And as we go, we can shine a light for others to follow. 

N: Nurturing

HUMAN* leaders are constantly nurturing trust to create a sense of belonging for everyone in our spheres of influence. Building relationships is our number one priority, and we all know that trust is essential in this endeavor. And when people dare to trust the connections they have with others, they feel that sense of belonging. And when we feel connected and supported by others, well, we can do just about anything. 

So, coaches, as you head out into your worlds today, remember your HUMAN skills:

Hone your empathy, find time to understand yourself as a leader, tap into your personal mission and use that to make meaning for others; always be anticipating and acknowledging the unknown, and every day, nurture trust and a sense of belonging.  Embracing these five elements will increase your impact throughout the entire adult culture of your school. And the ripple effects of adults who feel safe and supported will show up tenfold in our students. And isn’t that what matters the most? 

You got this, coaches. Humanity is rooting for you. 


*The H.U.M.A.N. framework is part of Kristen’s dissertation research.

Find all the resources mentioned in this Coach Better episode here

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New Coaches:

If you’re just getting started as a coach, and you want to learn how to make these mindset and skillset shifts, watch our New to Coaching Workshop, which will also tell you all about our brand new course, Getting Started as a Coach.

Experienced Coaches:

If you’re already a coach & you want to think about being more intentional & strategic in your practice, watch our workshop on the Thrive Model for Coaching Success which will help you evaluate your program to see where you may have room to grow – and help you decide if our year-long mentorship and certification program, The Coach, is right for you, right now

Just like all our learning experiences, the content in both of these courses is self paced so you get access to everything immediately – but you get so much more: when you join the course, you get access to our #coachbetter global community with optional group coaching calls at various time zones to meet & connect with other coaches PLUS private office hours with me to get all your questions answered & work through anything coaching related in your unique school context. 

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