Eagle Ridge Coaching
What is Educational Leadership Coaching?

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Debbie Magnusson Educational Leadership Coach

Eagle Ridge Coaching: the Right Choice
for Educational Leaders!

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Educational Leadership Coaching

Executive coaching in the 'corporate world' has become widespread since the 1990's although, historically, business leaders have been supported through an array of training, organizational development, mentorships, facilitated meetings and the hiring of consultants.

Educational Leaders have not had the same service or luxury provided by one-on-one coaching. As an educator in a variety of roles and capacities for over thirty years, I already had a good idea of the multi-faceted work school and school district administrators face. However, my appreciation grew once I began my coaching with the Superintendent of a BC School District http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/menu-gulf-islands%E2%80%99-leadership-%E2%80%9Cspecial%E2%80%9D

When you work with me, you will speak with an individual who understands how "business-style" Executive Coaching can adapt to an educational system. Good results are important, and healthy relationships are fundamental to good results. When I provide one:one coaching for Educational Leaders, the far-reaching goal is to continually improve services for students.

I integrate humour and curiosity with deep listening and provocative questioning. How will I help you "be the leader you'd want to follow"?

  • I will help you identify a single "outcome" that will be the focus of your coaching. Organizational results, team actions, and your own leadership initiatives for growth will be achievable because YOU have created the goals.
  • I can be a sounding board for the many issues, hopes and frustrations facing administrators.
  • I am able to help you create district or school goals and plans where every part of your organization is mirroring the parts and the whole. Organic unity (S. Coleridge) is a poetic term for "systems thinking". I am practiced in this concept.
  • Together we will write a contract that will outline your coaching sessions so it meets your busy schedule.
    • Number of sessions: ideally a minimum of six sessions is best for the first contract. Ten to twelve meetings, plus a final 'reflective evaluation' has proven to be most beneficial for goal attainment.
    • Length of each session: typically, one hour - however, ½ hr. phone conversations can often be succinct and help when time is short
    • Format of sessions: conversations can take place either face-to-face, over the phone, or by video conferencing
    • Frequency of sessions: the first three coaching sessions should take place within a two-week time span.
    • Following sessions should be within a three week spacing of each other to maximize continuity and accountability. Two sessions per month is ideal and should take place over six months of a school year.
    • Remember - YOU are the person to determine what would work best!
  • I am flexible. Crisis Coaching can be arranged. Live Coaching offers the opportunity to have me with you when you are in a meeting, with a supervisor, or need to have a 'difficult conversation' with a parent or a staff member. Your transparency in working on leadership goals will set you apart. You will be seen as modeling growth and learning. A plus for an Educational Leader!
  • As you begin sharing your coaching experiences, more leaders within your district will want to be coached. Soon, a 'coaching culture' develops. With Peer CoachingTraining, your organization will become more dynamic and effective.
Executive coaches, as a general rule,

  • do not share their own experience (as do mentors),
  • do not give advice (as do consultants),
  • do not impart specific knowledge (as trainers do) and
  • avoid personal issues (the role of a counselor or therapist or life coach)

In my practice I follow the rules, although at times I may ask your permission to move into one of the above roles.

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Brain Activity

This is how much brains love the coaching experience!

Brain Activity image showing artists rendition based on PET brain scans indicating brain activity stimulated by coaching
Artists rendition, from PET Brain scans, Citywide Media Vancouver © Susan Close Learning 2009

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You may be interested in reading some of the foundational concepts from where my coaching originated. The following references are all reflected in my "coach approach"!

"The choice to lead may be a personal one, but that choice has far-reaching public consequences."
- Mary Beth O'Neill, Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart, Josey-Bass, 2000

Fortune International Interview: Eric Schmidt (CEO Google)
"The best advice I received was from a Board member. He told me," You need a coach." "Why do I need a coach? I'm an established CEO? Is something wrong?" He said, "Everyone needs a coach." So Mr. X became my coach and it served me very well. Every famous athlete, every famous performer has someone who watches and says, "Is that what you really meant? Did you really want to do that thing?" It gives you perspective. One thing people are never good at is seeing yourself as others see you. A coach really will."

"As individuals advance to the executive level, development feedback becomes increasingly important, more infrequent, and more unreliable," notes Anna Maravelas, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based executive coach and founder of TheraRising. As a result, she says, "Many executives plateau in critical interpersonal and leadership skills."
(Methodology: Do You Need an Executive Coach?" Harvard Management Update, Vol. 9, No. 12, December 2004).

Coaching is effective for executives who can say, "I want to get over there, but I'm not sure how to do it. Coaching works best when you know what you want to get done," says James Hunt, an associate professor of management at Babson College and coauthor of The Coaching Manager (Sage Publications, 2002). "Perhaps, in spite of your outstanding track record, you haven't yet gained the full interpersonal dexterity required of senior managers-for example, you're not yet a black belt in the art of influence. You have to be open to feedback and willing to create positive change. If not, coaching may not be the answer."

Coaching can be particularly effective in times of change for an executive. That includes promotions, stretch assignments, and other new challenges. While you may be confident in your abilities to take on new tasks, you may feel that an independent sounding board would be beneficial in helping you achieve a new level of performance, especially if close confidants are now reporting to you. More so, you may recognize that succeeding in a new role requires skills that you have not needed to rely on in the past; a coach may help sharpen those skills.

Coaching is not just for tackling new assignments. It can also play an invigorating role. Coaches can help executives "develop new ways to attack old problems," says Vicky Gordon, CEO of the Gordon Group coaching practice in Chicago. "When efforts to change yourself, your team, or your company have failed-you are frustrated or burned out-a coach can be the outside expert to help you get to the root cause and make fundamental changes."

One increasingly common use of coaching for senior executives focuses on the challenges of managing younger workers, and on helping executives better understand and lead a new generation of employees whose work ethics and values are different, says Stephen Fairley, president of Chicago-based Today's Leadership Coaching and coauthor of Getting Started in Personal and Executive Coaching (Wiley, 2003).

Coaching engagements should be part of a larger initiative "Coaching works when it's systematic," says Babson's Hunt, and many organizations use coaching as an integrated part of a larger leadership development program.

"One of the big benefits of a coach is that they aren't tied to the organization, your friends, or anyone else," says Washington, D.C.-based executive coach Linda Finkle. "They are tied to you only, so they support what you want and where you want to go.

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How Will EAGLE RIDGE Coaching Help YOU?

Client quotes from School Administrators in the Gulf Islands, B.C. - School District # 64:

My coaching experience was very rewarding and taught me many things. First, I learned that there is time in the day and week to work on my professional development as an ongoing part of my work. Somehow I managed to fit in work on the goals that I set and get everything else done that I needed to do. I also learned through my inquiry into attendance that issues with student achievement reach all aspects of our system; my findings were relevant to the elementary school principals as well as the team here at the high school. It was my experience that the coaching initiative can be very helpful in creating focused, systematic change in the district which will ultimately result in greater student success. I hope that it will continue to be a part of our system for a long time as I know it helped me to become a better leader.

There are many enduring and positive changes that have come about for me because of my coaching experience. During the coaching, the many significant roles that make up my life were integrated and explored - that of administrator, teacher, student - and the person at the core of all of these roles. My coach questioned, prodded, challenged and illuminated through her questioning, those issues that we had delineated at the beginning of our sessions. Although the experience wasn't totally 'comfortable', I know that the most significant learning comes about through experiencing cognitive dissonance. It was important that my coach was able to guide me through these experiences in a professional and respectful way.

The greatest gift that coaching gave me was increased confidence. Through this experience I was able to improve my skills as a leader and to recognize the many strengths I already have. I am now better able to support and coach my staff. Staff morale has never been higher-- thanks to the skills I developed through coaching.

I appreciated the opportunity to practice scenarios with my coach in advance of when I had to deal with difficult situations. This allowed me to reflect on my choice of words & the impact the delivery of my message would have on others...I gained confidence doing this & was able to predict to a greater degree how others would react.

Initially I was concerned about the time commitment involved with the coaching process. However, this turned out to be a hidden benefit. I was forced to concentrate on ME...an area of my life I had been neglecting.

Coaching opened up communication for the larger group. I was not the only one involved with the process and I found we became more honest and direct with each other and I hope we don't lose this momentum. I dislike uncomfortable silences!

My coach was flexible and allowed me to digress...emergent issues came up that were not related to my initial goals. These turned out to be very valuable sessions that helped me grow & enhance my skills.

Read Evaluations of School District #64's Coaching Initative on the Evaluations Page

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More Information

Read the Eagle Ridge Coaching Letter PDF

Contact Debbie Magnusson by email: magnussonallies@shaw.ca
Ask for my references!

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