Coaching Insights

I’ve now followed Bluepoint Leadership Development for a few years, particularly valuing the fact that they back up the consultancy work they do with some great, high quality free resources. They produce some excellent webinars.

Here, I’ve shared the first webinar in a series of 4 on coaching. Interestingly, these days, most online coaching resources relate to how people earn money as external coaches, working with individuals. Bluepoint focus more on internal coaching within organisations.

The second of the videos in the series is already available and I believe videos 3 and 4 will come available over the next couple of weeks. The videos are available both through Bluepoint’s own website or their Youtube channel.

For those who find real value in the materials, there are more on the company’s own website;

Bluepoint Leadership Development Website

Free Resources – World Business & Executive Coach Summit

Many say that we live in a world where it’s never been more challenging to be a leader, regardless of the field or environment in which one leads. Faster changes, higher expectations of the leader to meet the needs of all stakeholders, always on communication channels, differing needs and expectations of different generations, global and technological changes that rewrite the reality of every industry or field are just a few of these challenges. In such circumstances, leaders need help and access to material that helps them to clarify their thought processes, from wherever it comes.

Last year I was very impressed to access a number of excellent sessions that were part of the WBECS Pre-Summit.  This organisation has a very extensive annual Summit that runs online weekly over a period of months. For that, you pay. However, they also offer a very extensive pre-summit where some of the top leadership experts and coaching experts of the world share summaries of material that will be in their longer summit sessions. These are free, run over a three week period, but are still enormously useful and can often stimulate interest for further reading, research and exploration.

WBECS Pre-Summit Recordings

The first week of sessions this year that can be accessed through the link above already include some valuable gems. Highlights for me included;

a) Daniel Goleman and Michelle Navarez – Mindfulness and EQ
b) Edgar and Peter Schien – Humble Leadership
c) David Peterson – DNA of VUCA
d) David Goldsmith – The Robots Really are Coming

And, there are three more weeks of great material still to be made available – all free!

I stress, this is not just for coaches or those who aspire to be coaches. For one, I would suggest that as leaders seek to achieve more through others in diverse teams, often scattered over many locations, the skills of coaching are pivotal for anyone who wants to lead. In many ways, the skills of coaching are the skills of leading.

There’s also much in these sessions that is food for thought for educators as they give thought to how to prepare young people to go in to the workplace of the future and do so effectively, as well as the most effective ways to lead and empower all stakeholders to do their best for the education of the pupils.

Enjoy, and please let me know what captures your attention.

Bold Leadership

Of all industries, education needs bold leadership.

Of all industries, education has lacked bold leadership in the past. Where will the bold leadership come from if there is inadequate attention to leadership in the profession. Education is no more guilty than many other professions that it takes some of its best practitioners (teachers) and promotes them in to roles that require a completely different set of skills and competencies – with no certainty that they have those skills and competencies, are ready and able to develop them or real, cohesive support to acquire them.

The last point may be the real issue. In the same way that there is all too often a hangover from past views of collegiality that suggest that how a teacher taught was his/ her own business, so the prevalence of idiosyncratic leadership styles and methods is almost part of the folklore in the education profession. If we are really serious about change in education, then we have to pay serious attention to the leadership skills of our leaders at all levels in our schools.

Here is a really interesting webinar recording from Zenger Folkman. They have a history of gathering vast amounts of data and evidence through 360 degree feedback processes and then analysing it for the lessons that can be drawn about all aspects of what makes leadership most effective – and especially what leaders need to do more of/ less of;

Zenger Folkman – Webinar – Bold Leadership

As well as the webinar, the page also has a number of other links to very useful and worthwhile materials.

Until we really address these issues of leadership, we are going to see schools vulnerable too often to issues in the leadership. This is especially important in the light of some research I saw a few years ago that suggested that, by some margin, the impact of good or great leadership in schools was of greater significance than differences in leadership in other types of organisation or company. In other words, when our leaders lack some of the fundamental skills of leadership the negative impact is greater.

And yet, as a profession, do we really pay adequate attention to the development of leadership skills. In my experience, when you look at the professional development made available for educational leaders, too much of it is focused on educational pedagogy and practices than on their leadership skills, reflective awareness and continuous development in this area.

Maybe one good piece of news coming out of the Zenger Folkman research is that women in leadership score higher on key aspects of bold leadership than men, considering the educational field has a higher than normal level of females in leadership. However, this is still leaving way too much to chance.

One of the issues that I see standing out way too often is the ‘one size fits all’ approaches to leadership – Principals and senior school leaders who have a limited range of responses to situations that they wheel out in response to all the situations they deal with. Schools are busy and hectic places and when things are happening rapidly leaders often don’t have much time in the moment to stop and reflect. therefore, they ‘act’ often very intuitively. This is not a problem if, at other times, the habits have been built to have a broader variety of tools in the toolkit. Then, intuition leads to the selection of the right tools to fit the situation more often.

With this in mind, I was reminded, this weekend, by the values of the Ken Blanchard Situational leadership model, as a result of seeing this excellent webinar recording;

Ken Blanchard Companies – Webinar – Creating an Effective Leadership Development Curriculum

Education has an inclination to be summative – to focus on the outcomes that we want (exam results, how students turn out etc.) Along the way, we need to put far more emphasis on the processes by which goals are achieved. This is where leadership development becomes so very critical. We need to be sure that leadership will happen in ways that are most effective to deal with any particular set of circumstances. We need to put considerable stress on developing good coaching and mentoring skills, whilst acknowledging that this is not simply meant to replace one always used leadership style with another. There are times when it’s right and times when it’s wrong to coach.

Better leadership leads to more engaged employees, which leads to better learning experiences for children and better parent relationships. These, ultimately, are the best ways to ensure long term and consistent achievement of strong student learning outcomes, development of strong and enduring school cultures and schools that learn and enable learning.

World Business and Executive Coach Summit (WBECS)

The world of coaching is, some would say quite appropriately, an environment of high innovation that leads the way in many ideas. After all – shouldn’t those who seek to guide, influence and propel forward today’s leaders be in the vanguard of initiative, drive and innovation?

One thing that has been a leading trend with the coaching field for some years now is the inclination to willingly and consciously share free information/ material. I remember some years ago when researching early interest in coaching models and frameworks coming across a website created by the late Thomas J Leonard that had a large section of free downloadable resources; forms, learning materials and other stuff.

So, it wasn’t such a surprise to me recently when the WBECS promotional material included the link to a page of videos that were part of the pre-summit. The pre-summit consisted of a large number of webinars, most featuring speakers who will be part of the ongoing summit. Most of these were live at times that fit with the US time, so it was a bit tough to follow them. So, I was especially pleased to see a page that took five of the most popular webinars and shares the recordings of them.

They’re each about an hour and I took something of value away from each. If you don’t have that much time to spare, my recommendations would be the second on ‘the paradox of leadership’ and the third on ‘mutlipliers’.

WBECS – 2017 – Cinema

I hope these stay available for a while. If the link stops working, give me a shout in the comments and I’ll take this post down. In the meantime, I’m sure WBECS would be delighted if you were inspired to sign up for the summit.

Coach John Wooden

John Wooden was a phenomenally successful basketball coach who, over the years, was responsible for developing some of the greatest talents in American basketball and coached highly successful teams to great success. However, more than all of that, he was renowned in many ways for his wisdom and insightful observations on how to coach and how to lead people in ways that bring out their success.

So, I was really delighted to find these two audios that amount to almost two hours of Tony Robbins interviews with John Wooden. Both the recordings are packed with insights, evidence of John Wooden’s phenomenal integrity and the evidence of how genuinely he cared for and loved those he led. Within the two podcasts there are so many thought-provoking ideas and observations that they justify listening to a few times over.

Tony Robbins – Podcasts – The Great John Wooden

Whilst sharing the podcasts, I also thought it useful to share one of the things for which Coach Wooden has been most renowned over the years – his Pyramid of Success. This may have been developed 60 years ago, but is still highly relevant for leading, working for success in life and being part of high achieving teams;

Coach John Wooden – Pyramid of Success

Earning The Right To Coach

A nice short video, highlighting that when it is said that a person is uncoachable, far more likely is that they're simply not ready to be coached by YOU.

The Leader as Coach

Sadly, last week saw the death of one of football's great exponents who then went on to have an illustrious career as a soccer coach - Johan Cruyff.

This is a nice little video (only about 3 1/2 minutes long) in which he shares his perspectives and thoughts on leadership and particularly coaching. He emphasises working to maximise on the strengths of individuals and teams, whilst not ignoring the weaknesses.

He makes a very valid point about leaders' need to introspect, to know themselves and to lead themselves, before they can lead and coach others.

Coaching the school district coaches | District Administration Magazine

http://www.districtadministration.com/article/coaching-coaches-best-practices-administrators-coaching-administrators

Coaching the coaches in education.

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More on Teacher Coaching

By coincidence, after i wrote the piece yesterday about coaching teachers, here’s a further article just received today – this time an ASCD In-Service piece advocating coaching teachers;

ASCD – Going Beyond the Scorecard

Coaching the Teachers to Coach the Students

Over the last 15 to 20 years there’s been a massive shift towards coaching as a concept for the development of human potential in the workforce. As long ago as around 1994 I attended a one-week training programme at Ashridge Management College in UK entitled ‘The Manager as Coach’. It had a strong impact on my thinking.

Over the last few years i followed with interest the way that the coaching movement was developing around the world, through membership of the US based IAC (International Association of Coaching) and Coachville. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn from and communicate with people who have chosen to work as specialist coaches either to high level corporate executives or alternatively for people who want a coach to focus on personal growth.

The first really important myth to blow out of the water is that coaching exists to ‘solve problems’, as a tool only to be drawn upon when there is a problem. sadly, we still too often see that happening, but in its ideal state it’s so much more than that. Sadly, there are those companies who call in a coach when an ‘expensive resource (i.e. highly paid executive) has a problem in their performance. However, at its best, coaching is a continuous and ongoing activity that has as its major objective enabling a person to fulfil more of their potential than they could on their own.

The Kunskapsskolan model is built on the principle of teachers acting as learning coaches to pupils, gauging their abilities to take ownership for their own learning, to develop their intrinsic motivation and to articulate and pusue their own goals (for learning and life). In such circumstances, it makes perfect sense to me that if coaching is the way for teachers to be with pupils, so it is also the way for leaders in education to be with educators.

Sadly, the agenda in many education systems has been far more driven by a sense of need to measure and assess teachers, rather than to coach them. This flows out of a ‘problem solving’ mindset that sees teachers’ efforts as inadequate and failing and in need of redressal. The reality is that on almost any day, in any conventional school, the management (Principal, V-P, supervisor, Superintendent, Director has only a superficial knowledge of how any individual teacher is doing his/ her job. If you pre-announce that you’re going to a teacher’s classroom, what you see is completely artificial. if you just suddenly turn up, the second you open the door and enter ‘their space’ you change the whole dynamics of what you’re witnessing. And if you put video cameras in to classes so that you can monitor what teachers are doing ……………… then plainly every shred of trust has gone from the system.

One of the things that excites me most about the Kunskapsskolan education model is that the open plan, no enclosed classrooms nature of the architectural design of the schools takes away all those artificial barriers. it means that all spaces are shared spaces and adults being around to witness each other’s work is completely natural. This means that assessment of what teachers are doing becomes completely unnecessary. Instead, we can focus entirely on a coaching approach based on a shared belief that insights, guidance and reflection can enable every one of us to be a continuous learner, that there is no such point of no more learning and that together we all want to do the best job possible to serve the learning of the pupils.

With these thoughts in mind, i was really pleased recently to read this Ed Week article advocating the benefits of coaching for teachers/ educators. It also contains some useful thoughts for the teachers themselves about the vital importance of being coach-able:Ed Week Article – Don’t Evaluate Teachers, Coach Them