5 thoughts on using coaching to develop others

May 3, 2018
Patrick Ottley O'Connor

Patrick Ottley O'Connor

In my 31 years in education I have enjoyed working alongside some great leaders. What they all had in common was that they were all well respected by teachers and all exhibited some great coaching behaviours.

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This blog is part of Ambition:Feed's developing others challenge. Find more tips and discussion on the Ambition:Feed homepage.

The current forensic focus on targets and performance tables can create a workload nightmare of toxic accountability. Coaching can be the perfect antidote to this toxicity and can truly liberate teachers to see their own issues, own their own priorities, create their own solutions and empower them to act to improve.

There are many different coaching models; but I’ll focus on a few tips to add to your coaching toolbox to help you become a better coach and a better leader for your most valuable asset: the teachers and support staff in your teams. 

1.       A good coach makes heroes

Great leaders who are effective coaches can inspire and motivate teachers and leaders alike, while laying the foundation for the next generation of school leaders. Often leadership is over-glorified so we must remember that a good leader should not be a hero, instead they should be a hero maker!

2.       A good coach takes responsibility

Coaching isn’t about fixing the teachers in your team, it’s about their growth and development.

Coaching should be blame free. Accepting responsibility for your actions, or the actions of your team makes you trustworthy and builds integrity. If the performance of our teachers and/or team members slips or bad decisions are made, we need to understand that their failure is our failure.

Your team are your mirror: they are a reflection of you. If you don’t like what you see, start with fixing yourself. To that extent, who is coaching the coach? Great leaders model the change they want to see and seek support.  @CollecivEd1 provides a good network of support and learning for coaches.


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3.       A good coach removes barriers

A good coach helps coachees to remove barriers and ensures that there is clear alignment between actions, outcomes and accountability. The school performance management system can be a useful tool to help this alignment.

Without this alignment, coachees can stray from the path of goal achievement or not even start the journey because of seemingly unsurmountable barriers. Agree expectations and revisit goals regularly to ensure continuity and alignment of efforts toward the vision.

4.       A good coach listens

A critical success factor in being a good coach is being a good listener, so practice active listening.

To listen well, you must first ask the right questions. Remember that the goal of your questioning is to create a dialogue that will help the coachee see, own, solve and act upon their issues. You are guiding the conversation not controlling it. Ask questions and ensure what is said is not only heard but understood.

5.       A good coach is not a problem-solver

While being the problem-solver might be effective and efficient in achieving results quickly, in the long run, it creates a weaker team through learned helplessness. Remember that every problem is a learning opportunity. Don’t bypass the learning experience in a rush to reach a solution. 

Allow the coachee to create their own solution. Provide support and insight but the solution must be owned by the coachee. This will result in the greatest buy-in for an idea and sustainability of impact. With practice and time, you will develop a confident, capable and competent team.


Do you use coaching methods to develop others? Get involved in the discussion over at Ambition:Feed - tweet us using #ambitionfeed or join our Facebook group. 

Patrick is an experienced coach and facilitator on our leadership development programmes

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