A Coaching Case Study
The Headteacher of the school where I was delivering coaching to several of its staff had created a 1 year post to maximize the strengths of one of the teachers (whom I’ll call ‘Jane’). This post was linked to teaching and learning, and with it came a leadership responsibility and a position on the Senior Leadership Team (SLT).
The leadership responsibility was new for Jane and she wanted coaching to help her to maximize this opportunity she’d been given by her Head.
A pre-coaching questionnaire identified that Jane wanted the following from our coaching sessions:
- To focus on areas in which I can be coached to effectively perform at a higher level of leadership
- To identify aspects of my own performance, as a leader within the school, that will help me to develop positive and confident performances from others. The outcome of which would be to enable the school to progress still further, towards its goals of being good to outstanding in all areas.
I coached Jane on 3 occasions over a period of 4 months; the coaching sessions covering a range of relevant topics including the following areas:
- Defining ‘leadership’ and what a higher level of leadership would look, feel and sound like. This process worked to narrow the focus where it mattered for the goal achievement, and to ensure clarity on the issues and development areas.
- Exploring of the benefits (to herself, her colleagues and the school) of achieving Jane’s goals – largely linked to the school moving forward and colleagues becoming more empowered to be more than they had previously been told they were.
- Carrying out an exercise (as an action point between sessions) to provide Jane with feedback on how her colleagues perceived her. The outcomes of this included consideration of this feedback and how it can have a positive impact on Jane’s performance as a leader and practitioner. This in turn led to identifying future goals and targets in Jane’s curriculum manager role and member of the SLT.
- Exploring ‘negative self-talk’ and how these things we say to ourselves can be turned around to increase motivation to achieve.
- How to view delivering presentations to large staff groups in a more productive way, including focusing more on delivery of content than on how to respond to possible resistance that may or may not arise … and if it does – having at least one strategy for dealing with this.
When asked what the coaching programme had given her, Jane responded as follows:
I was initially overwhelmed with the new role and the variety of requirements the job description included (the role had never existed before at our school). I needed someone else to talk to outside of all of that, which you gave me.
We focused on the little things … things that were the actual areas to focus on, rather than the big picture, which I’d initially been focusing on. This helped to narrow down what I needed to think about and do.
It helped me with where to start to get everything done within a specified time scale, which was challenging at the start. Our first session also helped me focus on why I was doing the job in the first place.
Addressing difficulties was useful, particularly the reluctance of some colleagues to embrace new ways of working. There will always be people whom, for whatever reasons, do not come on board with new ideas and opportunities, as readily as others. When people begin to see that what you’re doing is of benefit to them, they are less likely to put up such barriers.
I liked that you weren’t connected to the school. You’ve got no agenda other than to help me. I have very little time normally to sit with people and talk to them, and have this ‘quiet time’. It’s about reflection – on what you’re doing and what you’re doing it for. People need an outlet sometimes.
Coaching has also helped me to help others; for example – when people share their disappointment and concerns with me I think:
- What did Debbie say to me, when I felt this way?
- How can I use what Debbie did for me, with others?
- What can I say and do for colleagues when they need support?
Jane has chosen to have a review session with me in the autumn term, to prepare her for her next role within school when her current one comes to an end.
If you’ve ever been coached, what have been the best outcomes for you?
Thank you for taking time to read this blog.
I’m Debbie Inglis, a performance coach, mentor and trainer, working with Heads, Principals, School leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in you.