Do you consider yourself a leader?
I like to say I am an unexpected leader because I never expected to be the CEO of my own company. I never expected to be an entrepreneur, but over the last year or so, I’ve been conducting interviews with successful women leaders in education settings, all around the world. You can find out more about that at our website, the program is called Women Who Lead. To build out that online course program for you I had so many conversations with over 70 amazing women leaders that helped me recognize that the skills I learned as a coach are actually leadership skills.
Today, I’m going to consolidate 10 of those key skills that I know you as coaches are developing and growing every single day in your coaching practice. I believe, especially after having all those conversations, that these skills will serve you in any role you decide to pursue, including a leadership role. Of course, I could have had more than 10 skills included, but I focused on the 10 that really jumped out at me in those conversations.
Before I jump into the list of skills, I’d like to offer you the opportunity to see this as a chance to reflect on your practice, to think about which of these skills are you focused on growing this year. Which of these skills are areas of strength, which of these areas are you working on, and which of these areas are opportunities for you to keep developing.
If that kind of professional growth sounds interesting to you, I know you will love The Coach Micro-credential, our academic year long mentorship program. That includes all of our best coaching courses and a mentor for you to work with for the academic year. The Coach is open for registration right now for a limited time – registration opens only once a year! If you are interested in learning more about the coach, check out the website here so that you can join our next cohort of the coach. You’ll see a testimonial at the end of the 5 Min Fri video too, so you can hear about why you might want to join, from one of our current participants!
Watch the 5Min Fri Episode
10 Leadership Skills You’re Already Building as a Coach
OK, let’s have a look at those 10 skills you’re building as a coach, that will serve you will in any capacity, including leadership:
1 Building Trust
The first connection I had is trust. We all know that the foundation of coaching is relationships, and that is the same thing with leadership as coaches and as leaders, we need to demonstrate, we need to be reliable. We need to empower others and ensure confidence in us and confidentiality in our conversations. That trusting relationship is the foundation of coaching and the foundation of leadership.
2 Have Vision
The second connection I saw was about vision. You need to know where you want learning to go. You need to understand what the potential is for students, teachers, and the entire school, and have a strategy to get there. As a coach, you need to have this vision looking forward of where your coaching is going to take the learners you’re working with. And you need to be inclusive about making that a vision for everyone at the school, which is the exact same thing that leaders do.Emotional Intelligence
3 Emotional Intellegence
Another connection I saw was this concept of emotional intelligence. As coaches, we have to practice being adaptable to what others need. We can’t always coach the same way with every person that we work with. We need to be able to read the room and have an awareness of not only how the group feels, but how individuals feel when we’re working with them. That concept of adaptability and emotional intelligence is what enables us to build those relationships and to help a school move forward even without positional leadership.
Interestingly that’s also something positional leaders have to do to build their leadership. Isn’t just about the title or the word it’s about the actions you take and the way you make people feel. Being able to do that as a coach relies on our emotional intelligence.
4 Systems Thinking
A fourth connection I saw is this concept of having a systems view, being able to see the big picture, being able to understand how you can scale small scale projects up to a whole school, how those pieces fit together and how to manage change as a coach. Oftentimes you’re responsible for leading large scale change. So you have to know how to manage all those different pieces, how to synthesize the data you’re getting and how to help an entire community move forward. Again, that’s exactly what leaders do.
5 Project Management
The fifth connection I saw kind of relates back to all of those above, and that’s that idea of project management. As a coach often we don’t have a specific set schedule of when we have to do certain things or a specific structure to our schedule. We have large and small projects, long and short scale projects that we have to manage on our own time. We have conversations and meetings that we have to fit into our own schedule and we have to figure out how that whole package comes together into creating the role of an instructional coach. That’s part of being able to manage your own time, being able to manage projects and to be able to understand how everything works together to make change happen. Which is, again, exactly what leaders do.
6 Working with ALL Stakeholders
A sixth connection I saw is that as coaches, we are one of the few positions in the school that deals with all stakeholders at every grade level, from K to 12 students, parents, teachers, board members, leaders, all levels of the school. We work with every department and every grade level. We support students in all different areas of the school, including areas that we ourselves have never actually taught. As coaches, being able to understand how to support all of those different stakeholders, to be inclusive to their needs, to be responsive to them is part of being a leader, as a coach.
7 Data Literacy
The seventh connection I saw was the importance of using data to be able to work from and use feedback, to use multiple models of feedback, to be constantly adjusting based on what you hear and to not be afraid of the feedback that you get as coaches. We know how important feedback is so that we can better support the learners that we work with. And that’s also something leaders need to be able to do to be better support their entire school community.
8 Balanced Presentation
An eighth connection that I saw is being able to be balanced in your presentation of content or concepts or ideas. You have to be able (sometimes) to keep your opinions to yourself and balance what you want to say based on the needs of the people in the room. We’re not just a peer in this setting as coaches, sometimes we’re presenting new ideas and new initiatives, and regardless of how we feel about them, we still need to be enthusiastic and passionate and ready to share that with our colleagues. So as coaches, we’re learning how to balance that peer relationship with this influential leadership type relationship. And that is a skill that is essential to all leadership roles.
9 Inspirational & Motivating
My ninth connection that I saw is this ability to be inspiring or motivating. I think great leaders recognize the potential for growth within their staff – and so do great coaches. We have this constant and enthusiasm and energy for learning and for our learners. And we passionately believe that everyone has this potential to grow. When we demonstrate that growth mindset, we are demonstrating for our educators that we work with, that they can be growth minded too. And the best leaders are leaders who grow other leaders. So as coaches, we’re learning that skill right along with our job.
10 Listen First
My 10th connection is that ability to listen first. And I think this kind of sums up almost everything that I’ve shared today as a coach, we have to have that ability to genuinely listen, to understand, to stop that inner monologue in our head, to stop ourselves thinking about what we’re going to say next, and just listen to hear what the other person has to say. Maybe this is a skill you might apply as a leader in having a difficult or accountable conversation. Maybe this is a skill you might apply in a conversation to help a teacher along their professional growth journey. This idea of being able to listen first and put your own thoughts aside serves you in many different ways as a coach and as a leader. Listening first allows us to have these great conversations that provide deep reflection. It gives us the opportunity to ask excellent questions, to seek, to understand and to help the person we’re talking to have that kind of deep reflective conversation that they deserve.
Coaching IS Leadership
All of these skills together really demonstrate what makes a great leader. So if you didn’t know that already, as a coach, you’re already developing your leadership skills! And of course there’s always an opportunity to grow, but I do believe that coaching will serve you well in any role you choose to take. It’s great preparation for formal or positional leadership roles.
Level Up Your Coaching with The Coach Microcredential
I really do have to point out though that these skills that I am identifying as coaching and leadership skills are not just for people with the title of coach. These skills apply to teachers. They apply to librarians. They apply to department heads. They apply to anyone who works to help others grow. If that’s in your job description or that’s in your belief about what your job description should be you’re coach at heart. And I hope that means that you might consider continuing to learn with us.
We have so many programs to support this kind of professional growth. We have The Coach, as I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, we have our COETAIL program, which is the Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Leadership. We have our brand new Women Who lLead program specifically for aspiring leaders. And of course we have opportunities for private mentoring with me to help you take that next step in your professional journey, whatever it might be! If any of those sound interesting to you, please check out our website. I would love to learn with you and support you in your next step of your professional journey. If you have any questions or any ideas or anything you’d like to chat through, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. I’ll leave our social media contact info on here. So you can connect with us in whatever method feels right for you.
If you’re interested in The Coach, Emily Graves, Elementary Classroom Teacher at Yokohama International School shares why she would recommend all educators take The Coach:
“I would highly recommend taking the coach yearlong micro-credential course to anyone who is interested in coaching, who is currently a coach or transitioning into that period. Or even if you are a classroom teacher like myself, who would like to use coaching strategies with students and colleagues, the way the course is designed allows you to choose your level, making it easier to fit with your current role. I really appreciate the LMS system. It’s intuitive. It’s easy to use and it’s self paced. So that way you can get the most out of it. The way that all of the course facilitators respond and are immediately there for you is another reason why I felt this course was so supportive.”
If you are thinking now is the time to invest in a coach for you, please join us for The Coach Microcredential! Registration opens only once a year, and we would love to have you in our next cohort. Of course, all five ways a coach can help you coach better are all included in The Coach, it’s all about you making that choice to join our cohort, to make the next step in your professional learning.
After a very unusual year, now is the time to invest in yourself, to build up your professional learning network of educators around the world and connect with a community that inspires you! Plus, you’ll have a mentor who is an outside sounding board who will help you get outside of the group think or tunnel vision you might be stuck in, in your school context.
Since the program is sustained over an entire academic year, you are growing with your coach over that time, helping deepen your learning throughout the course of the program. The regular meetings with your mentor will help you reflect on the coaching challenges and opportunities that you find yourself presented with.
Of course The Coach is totally customized learning. We have standard content that we share with everyone, but then each time you meet with your mentor, every conversation is tailored exactly to your needs, including regular check-ins that will help provide you with customized resources that you need to help you keep growing in your role.
If you are ready to make a bigger impact in your school context, The Coach is for you! Learn more here!