Coaching Letter #126

Hello, I hope the weather is good wherever you are, and that you are getting some time to rest and recover after what was, for almost all of you, a very tiring week. But I’m also aware that a sizeable number of readers of the Coaching Letter are on the West Coast, and badly affected by the fires that are devastating huge areas—who would have thought it was possible for so many crises to coincide. I am so sorry that so many people are having to cope with so many difficult situations—it just doesn’t seem fair.

I listened to, or had conversations with, many district leaders last week, and I know how much time, thought, and energy went into opening schools. For what it’s worth, thank you for all your hard work–I know it has been supremely challenging. Also last week, I spent a little time working on my latest book project, on how schools and districts can better leverage coaching to support their strategy for meeting district goals. As frequently happens, I ended up following a rabbit trail—in this case, about personality. I was trying to chase down a hunch about the kinds of people who are hired as coaches. This led me to take the HEXACO Personality Inventory online.

I learned some interesting things. I score very low on emotionality overall, but very high on sentimentality (don’t laugh, Gail); that I am high on social self-esteem but not very sociable (no surprise); that I have the perfect average score for agreeableness but apparently in the bottom 10% for forgiveness (I wouldn’t have guessed that); that while I am average for conscientiousness (brought down by my lack of perfectionism—no surprise there either), I score exceptionally high on altruism. Oh, and I also score very high on greed-avoidance, which apparently means that I don’t care much about luxury goods.

Anyway, just the language in the information about the test made me think about educators, especially with the opening of school in the midst of a pandemic—sincere, fair, modest, gentle, flexible, patient, organized, diligent, prudent, inquisitive, creative, altruistic. I found myself in tears.

So now I’m super aware of not wanting to be seen to be too maudlin, so read some HBR articles, why don’t you! This is a good time to remind you that the Harvard Business Review allows any Tom, Dick or Harry to read three articles per month for free, and you get six if you register on the website—and of course, unlimited access to the full archive if you subscribe. Their iPad app is particularly good. Not surprisingly, the article on the front page of the website right now is about adaptive leadership in times of crisis, but these articles seem particularly relevant for leaders and coaches right now:

The Problem with Saying “Don’t Bring Me Problems, Bring Me Solutions” Sabina Nawaz
3 Myths That Stop People from Asking for Help at Work Vanessa Bohns
The Decision to Trust Robert Hurley

But perhaps you shouldn’t be reading anything right now. Maybe you should be petting the cat, or taking a nap, or baking cookies. I very much hope that you are able to take time for yourself this weekend. Dimes to donuts people are depending on you, and your personality inventory results will bear that out. And now you can trust that I am sincere when I say, please, if there is anything I can do to make your life a little easier, let me know. Best, Isobel

Isobel Stevenson, PhD PCC
Connecticut Center for School Change
Center Staff
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