Executive Coaching For School Leaders: Three Reasons To Get A Coach

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Executive coaching has the potential to dramatically improve school leadership. Every school leader who wants to be at the top of his or her game needs a coach.

1. Confidential and Ongoing Support

School leaders face enormous challenges. The demands on them are high and getting higher.

Increase test scores. Get and keep superb teachers. Cut costs. Raise money. Keep everyone happy. The list goes on.

Executive coaching provides a safe, confidential space for school leaders to discuss and figure out how to manage competing and complex demands. Sometimes school leaders just need someone to talk to confidentially about thorny problems and sensitive situations to help them sort out the best way to proceed.

2. Self-Awareness

Successful leaders know a lot about themselves. They know their strengths, weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, character traits, and what others think about them.

They also know that continuously learning about one's self is the single most important thing they will do to continue being successful leaders. Schools are intense microcosms with many constantly moving parts, shifting dynamics and changing politics. Many a successful school leader has become undone by failing to keep self-awareness up to date. Successful school leadership requires continuous personal and professional development.

One of the most effective tools for developing self-awareness is the EQ-i (Emotional Quotient Inventory). The EQ-i examines social and emotional strengths and weaknesses. Clients self-report on their life and workplace performance in 15 key areas of emotional skill that have been proven to contribute to proficiency in complex activities such as conflict resolution, leadership and planning. After identifying the areas that need improvement, clients can immediately begin developing in those areas. At the same time, a coach can help clients leverage areas in which they excel to maximize their leadership effectiveness.

Helping clients hone self-awareness is at the top of the agenda of any executive coach worth hiring.

3. Personal and Professional Development

Let's face it. The two are inextricably interwoven, especially in the lives of school leaders. Most school leaders practically live in their schools. One leader I coached recently hadn't had a vacation in six years and rarely had time for his family. Leaders in high pressure worlds like schools need a safe place with someone who can help them keep their personal and professional lives in balance.

A skilled coach helps school leaders make the changes they want for themselves and their schools. The process involves creating new patterns of thinking and behavior. Coaches are trained to "hear" between the lines and ask powerful questions. They listen for fears, self-doubts and limiting beliefs that interfere with clients' success. Coaches are adept at specific skills, such as acknowledging, clarifying, questioning and reframing.

The International Coach Federation puts it this way: "Coaching is an ongoing partnership that helps clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance and enhance the quality of life."
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