I consider myself lucky! I had a great career in Education and worked with fantastic people. Others who loved to learn and grow surrounded me and I was constantly inspired by others who ‘coached’ me to be the best I could be. Coaching is one of the best ways, I believe, to support people in learning and growing.
For nine years, I worked in a school division where coaching was foundational to the work we did. All of those who supervised staff were trained in Cognitive Coaching. When we amalgamated with two other school divisions, coaching became central to our supervision and evaluation process.
What did we experience? Leaders who really wanted to grow leaders! It became central to the culture of the organization that we would have those who supervised others inspire staff to find within themselves the strength to be the best they can be – whatever was their role. It wasn’t perfect, but it was positive, promoted growth and life-long learning and staff were engaged in their work! I saw it in the staff with whom I worked most closely. Our Human Resources department was small, but when given the opportunity to create their own meaning in their work, have some input and make decisions on their own, they really worked hard and went way beyond anything that was expected of them.
Coaching works because the message from leaders is that they believe staff are capable and can figure out situations for themselves. Coaching guides people to ‘think’ and resolve issues, or seek opportunities in their work. It literally ‘takes the monkey off the back’ of the leader. When staff came forward with questions, the first response from the leader was often ‘what do you think?’ A conversation that included further coaching questions would follow, and in the end, the staff member would leave feeling empowered to carry on with their work.
There aren’t many things more rewarding than working with people who love their jobs and take ownership for the work they do. Using a ‘coach approach’ is a great way to create this type of culture.