Photo by Nick Merrick


Executive coaches have become increasingly prevalent over the last 20 years in the for-profit sector, where, not surprisingly, businesses invest more time and resources to develop leadership capacity compared to not-for-profit organizations. More recently, independent school heads–particularly those newly appointed–often have a leadership coach through the first 1-3 years of their transition, though this is rarely extended to other leaders in a school. The benefits of coaching, even for highly-successful leaders, are coming into focus. 

Coaching is a relationship that helps leaders maximize opportunities and get through the most difficult challenges in their careers.

Donna Orem

Organizations are also embracing an evolved vision of leadership: the leader as coach. For independent schools–already oriented with a growth mindset as learning organizations–folding in the premises and tactical skills of coaching among the leadership team is a natural next step. 

Increasingly, coaching is becoming integral to the fabric of a learning culture—a skill that good managers at all levels need to develop and deploy.

Ibarra and Anne Scoular
Harvard Business Review 2019

How Supportive Leaders Approach Emotional Conversations

Many leaders aren’t aware when they’re using emotionally dismissive and potentially harmful language with their employees. Most of the time, unintentionally dismissive language comes from a place of caring. Leaders want to support the person, to help them move through their issue, to minimize their pain. Sometimes in an attempt to minimize the pain, they minimize the person as well. On the other hand, some leaders believe that emotions don’t belong in the workplace. The past two years of compounding emotional strain have made it increasingly clear that managers need to shift their focus to meeting and supporting employees’ emotional well-being. It’s no longer enough to simply provide the operational tools and resources for your team to function — you also need to create psychological safety for them to thrive. That means getting comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations. The author presents six ways for managers to be supportive when someone shares an emotional situation or challenge.

Elevating Your EQ: The Coaching Quotient

Five years ago, I led a project with Crescent School (Toronto) to define what thriving and being “in flow” look like for employees. The result was the Crescent School Competencies: skills, knowledge, and behaviors that all employees aspire to embody. Among them is emotional intelligence, a competency touted globally as the number one indicator of a leader’s success. I would add that emotional intelligence is the number one driver of all individuals’ success. It speaks to our humanity, which is our ability to understand ourselves and develop strong relationships with others. Crescent defines EQ (emotional quotient) as “the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions and well-being, as well as the emotions and wellness of others.” We further break it into the five dimensions that Daniel Goleman, the leading expert on emotional intelligence, created: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Successful Leaders Are Great Coaches

More and more executives are realizing that the successful leader must be a good coach. But what do good coaches do? The authors cover five areas: Care for your teammates, Organize them into their “sweet spot,” Align them around the organization’s purpose and values, Challenge them to reach their full potential, and Help them reach their goals.

How Company Culture Shapes Employee Motivation

In a recent strategy meeting we attended with the leaders of a Fortune-500 company, the word “culture” came up 27 times in 90 minutes. Business leaders believe a strong organizational culture is critical to success, yet culture tends to feel like some magic force that few know how to control. So most executives manage it according to their intuition. We’ve found that answering three questions can help transform culture from a mystery to a science: 1) How does culture drive performance? 2) What is culture worth? 3) What processes in an organization affect culture? In this article, we address each of these to show how leaders can engineer high-performing organizational cultures — and measure their impact on the bottom line.


Empowering Leaders Through Coaching This past summer, I had the pleasure of attending a MasterMind Group, led by leadership coach and former school head Abigail Wiebenson. It was nourishment for the mind, body, and soul. As participants passed comfort food, cooked by Wiebenson herself, they shared stories of success and challenge, exchanging lessons learned and brainstorming solutions. Wiebenson says these monthly groups, made up of independent school heads, “validate leadership and build confidence, awareness, and a skill base.” Participants come to the group with a challenge they think could be helped by collective input. As the year progresses, her role becomes more of “ninja coach,” she says, “coming out of the shadows when it is time to summarize, remind, validate, and wonder aloud.”

Harvard Business Review 2019

Once upon a time, most people began successful careers by developing expertise in a technical, functional, or professional domain. Doing your job well meant having the right answers. If you could prove yourself that way, you’d rise up the ladder and eventually move into people management—at which point you had to ensure that your subordinates had those same answers. As a manager, you knew what needed to be done, you taught others how to do it, and you evaluated their performance. Command and control was the name of the game, and your goal was to direct and develop employees who understood how the business worked and were able to reproduce its previous successes.

Ted Talks 2019

Want to Transform Schools & Yourself? Think Like a Coach! To transform teaching and learning in schools, and to reinvent our communities and ourselves, adopt the mindset of an instructional coach! Coaches approach their work with vulnerability, curiosity, and caring, and these habits of mind and ways of working…

NPR 2013

Lessons In Leadership It’s Not About You. (It’s About Them) Ronald Heifetz has been a professor of public leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School for three decades, teaching classes that have included aspiring business leaders and budding heads of state. Each year, he says, the students start his course thinking they’ll learn the answer to one question: As leaders, how can they get others to follow them? Heifetz says that whole approach is wrong. “The dominant view of leadership is that the leader has the vision and the rest is a sales problem,” he says. “I think that notion of leadership is bankrupt.” That approach only works for technical problems, he says, where there’s a right answer and an expert knows what it is.

Discovering Your Authentic Leadership

During the past 50 years, leadership scholars have conducted more than 1,000 studies in an attempt to determine the definitive styles, characteristics, or personality traits of great leaders. None of these studies has produced a clear profile of the ideal leader. Thank goodness. If scholars had produced a cookie-cutter leadership style, individuals would be forever trying to imitate it. They would make themselves into personae, not people, and others would see through them immediately