Leadership coaching that transforms
The article by Elena Aguilar (Educational Leadership, May 2017) explores the extent to which coaching enables school principals to flourish in their leadership role.
Aguilar notes that school leadership can be very isolating and this has an impact on professional confidence and development. She suggests that this isolation is intensified by a belief that there should be a leadership identity, upheld in the presence of staff and students.
The experience of Aguilar suggests that coaching creates ‘a safe space to explore the identity questions that are often at the forefront of internal and external conflicts inherent in their [the principals] roles’ (p.33).
She proposes ‘four’ key considerations that enhance the effectiveness of leadership coaching.
1. The intention and framework for the coaching must be clearly articulated and agreed.
2. The coaching must not be related to performance management.
3. The coach must not slip into the role of mentor
4. The coach must be well trained and confident in the role.
Implied in the research are three subsidiary requirements of effective leadership coaching: that it must be voluntary, self-directed, and occur within fiercely protected time.
The story recounted by Aguilar is a fascinating insight into the struggle of a black American principal with a largely white American staff. It illustrates how coaching can facilitate 3B transformation. That is the areas of behaviours, beliefs and (ways of) being. The most striking aspect of her research was the finding regarding retention. ‘The factor that made the difference between whether these principals stayed at their schools for many years or left after a year or two was whether or not they had support, meaning someone non-judgemental with whom they could talk regularly, often a coach’ (pg. 36)
With retention being a serious issue in our education, this article prompts significant questions about where scarce CPD funding would best be focused.