Whether you are an educational leader or someone who supervises people in a business, this article is for you. Here is the absolute challenge we have in promoting employee growth in our organizations. The challenge is we largely supervise our colleagues in the same way we were supervised prior to becoming the so call boss. I am no different than you. Whether I was the principal of the school, a director or a superintendent, one of the responsibilities that came with those titles was the supervision of employees below you. BELOW you- isn’t that an interesting way to put it, however; the organizational structure of most of our organizations be it a school board, a school or a company; is hierarchical. By way of design the task of supervising employees in inherent to that structure. It’s all in the word SUPERVISE. You see, the word itself implies that I am above the person I am providing feedback too. I also have a positional authority of the person I am supervising, which creates a dynamic on its own. I had this illusion that my direct reports would gather evidence of their accomplishments and I would then listen to their accomplishments and would objectively( is that really possible) determine if they had met the expectation of the organization. This dyadic dialogue really boiled down to one thing if I were honest. Did the employees I was supervising make me “happy”. Though I had accomplished many admirable organizational tasks in my career, I reflect on the evaluation process and it came down to whether or not I made the boss “happy”. What the hell does making your boss happy have anything do with your own professional growth? The answer is simple: NOTHING.
It was not until I became an Integration Coach, that I realized the flaw that exists in many of our organization and the flaw is this: many of our HR processes, though well intended, gather ample evidence that our employees are serving the organization in productive ways. This is necessary, I get it; but does little to promote the growth of the employee. The employee’s response is generally: ” I feel good that I done a good job”. “I feel good that I am contributing to the organization”. However, there is this void the sits in the pit of your stomach that says: “I need more”.
This is where the INTEGRATION COACHING advantage zero’s in on promoting employee professional growth. That void that people are feeling need not be filled with the latest and greatest program on instructional supervision. You have heard me say it before, the higher our inadequacy the more we feel we need more, however the truth of the matter is that we have all we need. What we need is INTEGRATION? Let me share an example with you from one of my clients who is a Principal. I remember our first session where she identified her frustration with not being able to shift one of her teachers. Despite all of her efforts, the teacher would passively agree to the implementation of the program but never really did. The teacher would just do enough to what, I ask: “make her Principal happy”. While the changes the teacher made may be perceived as a minor victory. How do you think both the teacher and Principal felt? Well they both reported that there was something missing.
In about the third session with me, the Principal had “a-ha” moment in her leadership as we were discussing some of her limiting beliefs. You see, like her teacher she was in the last years of her career and when she got real honest with herself, she really did not want to ruffle any feathers and wanted to end her career on a smooth note. Her limiting belief was “ what’s the use of putting all this effort in, I will be done in two years anyhow”? As any coach would do, I changed the question from what would make it worth your effort, to what legacy do you want to leave in the school? It was then she changed her whole outlook on her leadership and consequentially the teacher she was supporting. She shifted her mindset from Leader as SUPERIVISOR, to LEADER as coach.
Simply switching from SUPERVISOR to COACH requires deep inquisitiveness. It’s an inside job that is largely misunderstood because coaching does not mean you are a cheerleader nor does it mean therapy. A skilled coach will recognize the blindspots that prevent you from being the leader you want to be to only make them shine into greatness. A leader who understands his leadership strength will bring that out in their employees. As Aldrich( 2018) states in the study How do you improve schools? Start Coaching Principals, “This( coaching)approach is about support, not compliance.” Here are some important considerations in understanding coaching:
1) To the employee, be it a Principal or teacher, be clear in understanding your coaching role. Regardless of your ability as a coach, if you are coaching someone that is lower in the organizations’ hierarchy; subjectivity and bias will creep in. Consider contracting an external coach to train you.
2) Peer coaching is great and works well. Again, ensure that the coaches you put in place understand what coaching entails. There is a tendency to coach like we have been coached, be it sports or other activities whereby you had a coach.
3) Understand how to bring equal balance to the coaching relationship. This requires vulnerability, passion, and intuitiveness.