How do School Leaders Benefit from Coaching?

Over the years I have had the pleasure of seeing the wonderful impact that coaching has on both School Leaders and their schools. This experience has led me to believe there will come a time when all Headteachers are provided with this support as a pre-requisite for the fulfilment of their roles.
However, in spite of the fact that the business world and a growing number of schools now embrace coaching as an integral form of leadership support,  there are still many that are only now beginning to recognise the value of coaching in education.
So how do School Leaders and their schools benefit when coaching support is in place?
To answer this question, I decided to ask two Headteachers I’ve coached what lead them to seek to coaching to better support themselves in their role and more importantly, what did they get out of it for themselves and their schools…

Henry, Headteacher of Inner City London Secondary School

“I had began to feel that I was leading on Autopilot…”

1. What were the main challenges you faced which made you consider Coaching?
Before I took up Coaching, I had been at the school for 15 years and I had began to feel that I was leading on autopilot. I felt like I needed to get a fresh insight on how to be a better leader and to refresh my expertise and my approach.
I also felt I was beginning to dry out and beginning to see leadership as something I had to do rather than wanted to do. So I was looking for new ways to lead that would allow me to recapture the passion I once had for the role.
2. How did your Coaching relationship benefit you and your School?
I think what it was really useful for me was to have a clear-thinking space with a guided structure to help shape the conversation and the thinking. A safe space where I could discuss things that I was not able to discuss with my staff because I was their manager.
It was almost like a sanctuary where I could think with a professional and explore the emotion and the rationale behind my decisions and my vision. The safe space allowed me to reflect and work out what I wanted to achieve. It enabled me to do a lot of deep thinking. Something that you often don’t get the opportunity to do in a normal school day because of time constraints.
Coaching also helped me find solutions whenever I was facing difficult decisions and found it hard to manage my own internal responses. For example, at one point, I was facing some very challenging staffing issues and couldn’t see a clear way forward. Within just one coaching session, I was able to quickly work through the problem with Viv. We unpicked my responses to the challenges, so I came to a better understanding of myself and as found solutions for the issues at hand.
The best thing about coaching is that the answers come from within you. You aren’t told the answers, you have to be prepared to dig deep and find them. But in that digging deep, in that reflection you become more of a reflective practitioner, you become a better and deeper thinker – all of which is so important to leadership.
Above all, I would say coaching helped me to regain my drive and my passion for the school. It helped me to reconnect with my own ambitions for the school and  to develop new ways of being in my role.

James, Headteacher of Inner City London Primary School

“The role was having a big impact on my well-being and had put me in a very dark place…”

1. What were the main challenges you faced which made you consider Coaching?
Before I began coaching, it’s fair to say that my school was going through a very difficult time. I was really beginning to feel the enormous weight of responsibility to turn it around and meet all the different expectations from OFSTED, the staff and the community we served.
I increasingly felt out of control and overwhelmed. On top of this, the constant pressure and paperwork meant that often I was so busy just trying to cope that I had no time to properly reflect on how we could turn things around and better meet the needs of children in our care.
The role was having a big impact on my well-being and had put me in a very dark place. I was experiencing very high levels of stress which was affecting my personal life and to an extent, making it even harder for me to make right decisions for the children as well. At the time, I really wasn’t sure if I could continue in my role if things didn’t change.
2. How did your Coaching relationship benefit you and your School?
One of the things I realised early on in my coaching with Viv was that I had lost a lot of confidence in myself as a leader and so one of the major things coaching helped me to do was to help make me believe in my abilities and feel in control again. Viv made me realise the areas of my school where I was having a really positive impact and showed me that many of the great things that were happening in my school weren’t an accident but rather because of decisions that I had made.
By helping me to look at things differently, she was also able to help me  develop a more realistic approach about what could be done. She also helped me see the areas in which we could do what was above and beyond.
Viv helped to create a space where I could explore my own vision and values and really discover what’s important for me in my leadership role. From this greater understanding of what I wanted to achieve, I was more able to confidently decide upon actions which were right for me, actions which I then followed through with more success because I fully believed in them.
Ultimately, by increasing my self-awareness and re-connecting with my values,  I was supported to see how I could put my vision into practice in a realistic way. I was quickly able to regain my confidence in my decisions. From then on, things began to improve considerably and dramatic changes began to take place in my school. Coaching was one of the processes that supported this transformation.

*The Names of these Headteachers have been changed to protect their identity.

One of the hardest things for me as a Head teacher was finding the courage to ask for the help that I needed. What I needed back then was someone impartial who really understood the challenges I was experiencing. I needed someone with whom I could “drop the leadership mask” and talk openly and honestly about the issues, questions, doubts and feelings I was having in my role.
And it is the same today. If our leaders are to sustain consistently high levels of effectiveness amidst the growing complexity of the role, this form of support is not just helpful – it’s vital.
Social workers have supervision to help them process their toughest cases, and corporate executives have space for “lessons learned” and continuous improvement between projects.
Yet School Leaders remain woefully under-supported and as a result, many are left without anyone to turn to when they are in need of support, clarity, guidance or even just some encouragement to keep going.
That’s why I am now offering free “Coaching for The Soul” support calls to ensure that no School Leader finds themselves in the same situation as I was in as a Head.
These calls provide a safe, confidential space for School Leaders to:
– Talk through the challenges they are currently facing
– Get support in locating next steps and solutions to help overcome problems
– Reflect on recent events and the impact they are having
– Gain clarity around how best to move forward

Book Your Call

If you feel like you’d benefit from a call like this or perhaps know someone who would, please follow the link above!



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