Hey School Leaders – this one is for you: 

In his 2020 video about the power of empathy in leadership, Simon Sinek states that, 

 “If you’re good at your job…they’ll promote you and at some point you’ll get promoted to a position where we’re now responsible for the people who do the job we used to do but nobody shows us how to do that and that’s why we get managers and not leaders because the reason our managers are micromanaging us is because they actually do know how to do do the job better than us… that’s what got them promoted” [SIC]  (1:58).

Simon Sinek

Though in this particular case, Sinek is speaking to leaders in the field of business, I see this all the time in the transition from teacher to principal. Yes, school leaders go through a credentialing program, of course, and those law and finance classes are certainly valuable, but what is even more essential is an emphasis on the human skills necessary to lead  an organization made up of real life human beings full of different ages, races, genders, and life experiences. Leading a school might be the most complex job there is, and it is an insanely important role. And yet, we expect these leaders to be super heroes, handling every problem that comes their way, and still finding time to connect with the children. But what if they had an hour a week to meet with a coach to help them reflect on those super hero qualities? How might that transform schools and districts around the globe? 

5 Reasons Why School Leaders Need a Coach

Here are 5 reasons why school leaders need a coach, and they all come from some research I’ve been doing lately, which I’ve synthesized into the HUMAN framework for school leadership. 

1: A coach can help you develop your empathy.

Brené Brown says empathy is a tool of compassion, and this is something we need to practice daily.  Sometimes, this is a difficult undertaking, especially if there are those we don’t agree with. As school leaders, with so much to focus on regarding the goals of your strategic plan and student achievement, working with a coach can help you hone your empathy, allowing you to better support those teachers whose work you value so much.

2: A coach and help you explore and understand who you are as a leader.

Sometimes, the day just doesn’t stop, does it. It starts before you even get to school and continues long after you arrive home. As a school leader, you are constantly reacting and making decisions and rarely is there time to eat lunch, let alone pause for reflection. And everything you are doing is incredibly important. AND, so is taking the time for yourself to pause, to take a breath, to ‘get up on the balcony,’ as Heifeitz and Linsky say.  This pause and perspective shift will also help you see some patterns in your leadership; things that are strengths for you that you might not have realized, as well as some other areas that may need a bit of work. Your coach is there to support you through this process. 

What’s YOUR level of coaching mastery?

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.

This quiz is based on real-life case studies compiled from years of working with coaches inside The Coach Certificate & Mentorship Program!

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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The STRIVE Model of Coaching Mastery quiz will help you identify your level of coaching mastery by matching you with case studies compiled from years of working with coaches inside The Coach Certificate & Mentorship Program so you can easily see where you fit!

When you complete the quiz, you’ll get:

  • Your matching case study,
  • Specific strengths & challenges aligned to your result;
  • Suggested next steps for each stage;

Plus the Case Study Document includes:

  • Case studies leveled by coaching mastery;
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  • Space for you to reflect & prioritize so you can take action immediately!

You’ll go straight to the Quiz, and get the Case Studies by email.

3: A coach can help increase your motivation to live out your mission to help make meaning for those in your care.

In their book Switch, authors Chip and Dan Heath remind us “what looks like resistance is often lack of clarity.”  This is a great reminder for working with the teachers on our teams. But let’s go to those moments where, as leaders, perhaps we are given a directive from the State or Federal Government, or, there are  a million and one hoops to jump through for a certain initiative that either we a) don’t want to do or b) don’t think agree with what is being asked, and yet, we have to share the information with our staff and convince them to get on board. Working with a coach can help you pause, review the information in front of you, and create your own meaning out of something and THEN move into making meaning for your staff.

4: A coach can help you anticipate the unknown and be ready to ‘pivot’ once it arrives. 

My favorite guiding principle is that ‘nothing ever works out the way you planned, but somehow, it always works out.’ As educators, we know we need to be prepared with multiple contingency plans for any situation because this is human work. In today’s divisive political climates, there are also new laws or other decrees that can wreak havoc on our educational systems. A coach will help you pause, sift through all the noise to uncover what the most important information is that you need at that time, and help you create a plan to move forward. 

5: A coach can help you with the most important skill a leader needs to have: nurturing trust and a sense of belonging.  

Creating a sense of belonging starts with the leader. How are you welcoming your staff? How are you cultivating the conditions where people will feel that they are seen and heard, and they say, “I belong here”? Right now, recruitment and retention is a big thing, and your coach can help you fortify an environment that lets people know they are valued for who they are and all they bring. 

With the support of a coach, principals and other school leaders have the potential to multiply their impact in amazing ways. Cultures will shift, teachers will grow, and student learning will soar.  Leaders, what are you waiting for? 

Watch the Video

References mentioned in this episode:

*The H.U.M.A.N. framework is part of Kristen’s dissertation research. Versions of this work have also appeared on Coach Better episode # 219: Adult Cultures Matter:  https://coachbetter.tv/adult-cultures/

Brown, B. (2021). Atlas of the heart.  Random House.Cognitive Leap. (2020, November 18).   Simon Sinek – EMPATHY – One of Simon Sinek’s best 

speeches EVER [Video]. https://youtu.be/oUWMgHyf1bg

Heath, C., and Heath, D. (2010). Switch. How to change things when change is hard. 

Broadway Business. 

Additional references for the HUMAN framework

Wherever you are in your coaching journey, we can support you!

Want to become an advocate for instructional coaching in your school community? There is so much more to coaching than just being an excellent educator. Many of the skills that you need as an instructional coach are leadership skills and there are layers-upon-layers of leadership skills you can learn and apply in the role.

Free Workshops for Instructional Coaches

If you’re ready to keep learning, try one of our FREE workshops where you’ll be able to dig deeper into the concepts in this post, and get a peek at all of our courses for coaches.

We have workshops (and courses) to support coaches at every stage of their career: from new and aspiring coaches making the move from classroom to coach; to current coaches ready to be more intentional and strategic in their practice; to established coaches leveraging their coaching experience to lead. 

You can them all on our coachbetter website at coachbetter.tv/workshops

If you’re curious right now, you have questions, please reach out. You can leave a comment below, join our #coachbetter Facebook group, or find us on social media at Eduro Learning and send me a DM.  I’d love to support you on your coaching journey. See you next time!

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