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Executive Coaching for Leaders

A package of 6 x 1 hour 1:1 executive coaching sessions to empower leaders and improve work performance.

What is Executive Coaching and How Can It Help You?

An Introduction to Coaching

School leadership is complex at the best of times and requires clarity, creativity and resilience. The pace and intensity of the role can take its toll on leaders.  Just before the COVID-19 pandemic research from Leeds Becket University identified the challenges heads are facing and how coaching was used to positively support them to deal with these. The challenges have increased over the last year, making the call for all leaders to have dedicated coaching time even stronger.

An executive coach is a qualified professional that works with individuals in a 1:1 equal relationship. The coach is not a type of therapist; unlike therapy, coaching is forward looking and does not start with where the client comes from, but where they want to go. Coaches don’t usually give advice or solve their clients' problems for them. Instead, they enable and empower leaders to clarify and solve their own problems in ways that are authentic to the client’s situation and are sustainable.

Coaches blend questions, observations and a load of listening with precise, clear feedback to create a conversation rich in insight and learning. The client experiences a focus and attention on their own circumstances that helps them develop greater awareness and understanding. In addition, they will also gain fresh ways to resolve issues, produce better results and achieve goals more effectively. Common benefits people experience from coaching include:

  • improved sense of direction & focus
  • accelerated learning around a distinct topic, eg managing people, relationships, influence
  • improved performance in an area, eg professionally, health, finances etc
  • increased knowledge of self/self-awareness
  • improved personal effectiveness, eg focused effort on priorities
  • increased motivation or sense of personal engagement
  • increased resourcefulness/resilience, eg ability to handle change.

Coaching starts with the assumption that an individual is responsible for the results they’re creating. Whilst there may be things that are beyond the client’s control, it is more productive to look at which elements we can influence or our own responses. If we acknowledge that we are responsible for something, it follows that we have power and influence over it. For example, if a leader is not getting the results at school that they want, a coach might encourage them to:

  • understand that situation more clearly
  • develop new ideas or approaches for those situations
  • take constructive action that gets the results they want.

What a coach will not do is take responsibility (and power) away from the client by solving the problem themselves. An effective coach aims to empower leaders by supporting them to act, rather than acting on their behalf.

A coaching relationship is like no other because of its combination of objective detachment and commitment to the goals of the client. It is a distinct form of support; where someone creates a focus on the leader’s situations with an attention and commitment that is rarely experienced anywhere else. An effective coach will listen with a genuine curiosity to understand who the client is, what they think and generally how they experience the world. They will also reflect back with an objective assessment and challenge that creates real clarity.

Confidentiality is always a concern for clients and all of our coaches agree to a code of ethics which protects the privacy of the people they coach and so the contents of coaching discussions is confidential. Where a third party, such as governors, is involved in commissioning the coaching, a coach will agree with the leader the best way to keep any interested third parties involved or updated.

Coaching cannot be a one-sided conversation; clients have to want to do it. That means contributing to conversations honestly and openly. The impact coaching has is proportionate to the level of openness and trust in this relationship. In return, a coach will encourage the leader to stay committed to the coaching process. That means showing up and being present during sessions, taking their own notes where appropriate, and keeping any agreements made during sessions.

For anyone considering coaching, it helps to think through their motives before they meet their coach. It"s also a good idea to decide how they might increase the effectiveness of the coaching involvement, by reflecting on factors which may support that. The following questions can help:

  1. What areas or topics might be most useful to work on with a coach? e.g. personal, professional, general learning and development?
  2. What simple goals do you have right now which you"d like to make more progress with, make something happen, or achieve something
  3. What learning and self-development goals do you have? e.g. get better at something or express certain qualities more (or less) often
  4. Of the factors under your own influence, what might stop your involvement with a coach from being successful? e.g. distractions or a tendency to procrastinate
  5. What thoughts are you having now about getting started with a coach?

Whilst the intention of these questions is simply to encourage initial thoughts, leaders may also find that ideas, questions or actions arise from their thinking. That"s great and they should simply make a note of those and take them to their first session with their coach.