For education leaders, academic learning can be stimulating and exciting. Likewise, coaching can provide a space for learning about yourself, how you can operate more skilfully, and as a consequence, more successfully.

In a confidentially contracted space, a professionally qualified and accredited coach can guide a coachee through intelligent exploratory conversations towards actions. This will help the coachees tap into their strengths, and discover how to use them more effectively to achieve professional goals and optimum performance. Heightened self-awareness and experimenting with recalibrating modus operandi can bring about significant positive change for the individual, the people they work with, and the places in which they work.

Executive coaching originated in sport, with the same intention, to help talent to be mentally present, able to make split-second decisions and choices while in rapid motion, and be finely tuned to the outcomes. To stay at the top of your game in sport and professional environments, there is an acute need to invest time in yourself to ensure that you’re agile, resilient, work fit, and capable of adapting to the growing pace of change. The ability to keep up with change and embrace it is what will ultimately ensure that academic institutions remain robust, in tune, and not mired or hindered by past practices, inherited thinking, and ways of doing things.

The global pandemic has put a lens on challenges for all organisations, and forced leadership to act swiftly to manage risk, protect income, streamline business processes, effectively support mental health, student welfare, future planning, digital capabilities, and adhere to new government policies. Social awareness and sensitivity amongst student populations in matters such as inclusivity, diversity, climate change, and access to information forces institutional management to deftly navigate with a strong need to act for the ‘we’ and not ‘self’.

Now more than ever, the pace of that change and the demands that it brings require those leaders to be the ones that students hope for and expect, and the ones the Governing Board and Trustees can rely on. The kind of resourced individuals who can make the institution continue to thrive and flourish.

Coaching is not about finding a way to save poor performers, nor is it a substitute for managing. Exploration of systemic mapping in coaching sessions reveals this to be true, and just one of many tools that professional coaches use to assist in exploration and guiding the coachee to self-discovery of actions. Coaching is not mentoring, that is giving you the answers – your coach will help you discover answers for yourself. It is not therapy, although you may have some ‘aha’ moments about yourself and your neuropsychological programming in terms of behaviours and thinking.

Managers at all levels benefit hugely from coaching and find it very supportive to thinking, especially when going through a transition of role, or changes to organisational structure. Coaching can help you be the authentic and whole version of yourself in your professional life and not the version you assume people want you to be.

There are thousands of books to read on leadership. The author of 60+, Ken Blanchard, said “In the past, a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people, they no longer can lead solely based on positional power”. Leaders who wisely engage wholeheartedly in coaching will experience and recognise what Sir John Whitmore said about it; “Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is more often helping them to learn rather than teaching them”.

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