As a closet introvert, I love the opportunity to think and reflect between Christmas and New Year. So few people send emails (or expect replies), and the resulting space and time allows indulgence in delicious contemplation and rumination. Inevitably, part of this looks backwards, in a kind of scorecard of the year: what has gone well, and what has been less fulfilling; inevitably, too, part of this looks forward: what do I want the new year to bring, and how will I help make this happen, for myself and for others? And in the course of my deliberations this year, I realised just how much I have deeply enjoyed the executive coaching I have been doing with a number of international school leaders in various parts of the world – and how much I want to extend this to others.
Executive coaching offers the leader being coached a space – often a challenging and very personal space – in which he or she can evaluate what needs to be done in order to ensure that he/she is the very best leader possible, able to have the greatest and most meaningful impact on, through and with others. The role of an executive coach for school leaders, I believe, is to help the leader they are coaching to identify and then succeed in what they know, (deep inside but may not yet be able to articulate), they need to do in order to align their personal and professional lives in their own very specific educational context. When they can do this, they are able to release their potential, turning them into amazing and super-effective leaders of organisations and people, and able to have the positive impact on the world and its future that they are seeking.
An executive coach is a trusted confidant, providing leaders with the opportunity and freedom to share and explore their leadership and business concerns. An executive coach is akin to a discerning thought partner or an intelligent sounding board, who stands a confidential step away from the leader’s organisation. A good coach will hold a leader to account, and will provide insightful and honest feedback. I have been enormously gratified over this past year especially to have seen the leaders I have coached grow in strength and undergo personal transformations – whether they have been seeking and preparing for new roles, or transitioning into a new job, or working out what it is they want to do in the next phase of their lives. To be able to contribute to personal and professional growth in people who are moulding the next generation of students is a huge privilege, and I now know at first-hand just how much of a difference this can make, and how this will impact positively on the wider communities for whom these leaders have responsibility.
Executive coaching works. It is now de rigeur for executives in private companies to have regular coaching, as their boards recognise that to coach them is to invest in them. Where the education system in general falls down, however – even in the generally enlightened world of international schools – is in the lack of expectation that coaching support will be naturally offered to school leaders. Appointing, sustaining and developing a school leader is one of the biggest investments that a school board can make, and it is obvious – blindingly so, one might argue – that it is absolutely worth nurturing and growing this investment with high quality external support.
I believe passionately that great schools depend on great leadership – and that a great leader is someone who is in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing for the right reasons. I know I have helped numerous school leaders to realise their personal and professional potential, and I want to help more. So … if you are interested, and want to talk more, drop me a line. I very much look forward to connecting and helping.
Dr Helen Wright is a highly experienced and insightful former school leader turned international executive coach and consultant. She can be contacted on email@example.com