Hello, I hope your summer is going swimmingly. As I write this, outside it looks as though it is cool and misty, because it’s overcast and raining, but in fact I know it’s 95 degrees and appallingly humid. I am dreading having to go out.
I have been working on several coaching letters—one about asking why and the power of asking about intention, one about white privilege, one about trust, etc.—and then it hit me that the next Coaching Institute is coming up soon and I need to think about making the case for you to sign up. But it also occurs to me that I don’t need to make the case for coaches to sign up—nobody disputes that coaches need training. The people whom I want to convince are the people who don’t think they need coaching training—the people who decide to include coaches in the district improvement plans, or who supervise coaches, or have any leadership responsibility, but do not think of themselves as coaches—and how do I make the case for that? There is a tendency to think of coaching as something that coaches do, rather than a set of skills that everyone should have—not just to be a leader, but to be an adult. Just to be clear, I want leaders to sign up for coaching training not to make them better coaches, but to make them better leaders. A very good friend of mine pointed out a while ago that I needed to find another word—that coaching is too loaded. At the time I didn’t get it, but now I think she’s right.
So, while I will think more about how to be more persuasive on this issue, right now I have two other big selling points for educational leaders at any level of the organization to come to our coaching training. First, the coaching training that we offer does not concern itself solely with the coaching relationship; it also involves how coaching fits in with the district’s improvement strategy. Second, for every school or district that sends a team to the training, we will offer a place for a principal or central office leader for free. So, please sign up. Here is the flyer with the registration information.
Perhaps I am never going to be the most persuasive person on the issue of training leaders in the skills of coaching: listening, questioning, and feedback. Because, of course, I have a vested interest in having folks sign up for a training that I co-facilitate. So here are some links to the most popular resources I have linked to in the past regarding the importance of leaders being able to listen, to ask good questions, and to have a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of feedback—and the humility and self-awareness to appreciate that leaders need these skills. In no particular order. Resources that I have not linked to before are in bold. Happy summer reading/listening/watching! Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you, or if you have questions about the Coaching Institute.
Sheila Heen’s TED talk on feedback, and her interview on The Knowledge Project podcast.
Adam Grant in The Atlantic, People Don’t Actually Know Themselves Very Well
From HBR, What Self-Awareness Really Is
Also from HBR, Negative Feedback Rarely Leads to Improvement
Celeste Headlee’s super-popular TED Talk: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation
Another super-popular one, this time from The Atlantic: Power Causes Brain Damage
From HBR, To Change Someone’s Mind, Stop Talking and Listen
HBR again, Meetings Would Go Faster if People Took the Time to Listen
And HBR again, In a Difficult Conversation, Listen More than You Talk
And HBR again, Leaders Who Get Change Right Know How to Listen
Bob Woodward being interviewed by Stephen Colbert—to be honest, this is a bit of a stretch, but it was a really popular link back in September when it aired, and the eminently quotable line Let The Silence Suck Out The Truth is just irresistible to me.
The Red Team Handbook—again, maybe a bit of a stretch, but one of the most popular links ever on The Coaching Letter, and includes a great rationale for listening in a place I didn’t really expect to find it.
The Coach in the Operating Room—a great case for coaching in the New Yorker by the great Atul Gawande.
Super-popular HBR article on feedback—can’t tell whether it’s because I linked to it more than once or because it was shared a bunch—probably both: The Feedback Fallacy
Excerpt from Humble Inquiry, by Ed Schein—this was our first Reading for Leading book selection and was very popular. Read the whole book if you have time.
From HBR, How Humble Leadership Really Works
Also from HBR, and one of my favorites, even though I’ve never linked to it before: If Humility Is So Important, Why Are Leaders So Arrogant?
The Best Way to Help Is Often Just to Listen. This is a very moving TED talk on the power of listening—not directly connected to leadership, but wonderful nonetheless.
What a Question Can Accomplish—my own article about asking questions, and the most clicked link ever, probably because I have promoted the hell out of it.
Isobel Stevenson, PhD PCC
Connecticut Center for School Change
151 New Park Ave
Hartford, CT 06106
Coaching Letter: StevensonCoachingLetter.org