From the outset, I have to make it absolutely clear, that I have always held the work of Sir David Brailsford and the ‘marginal gains’ approach to improvement in the highest esteem. To be quite honest, I still do, which is why I am baffled and disappointed at the current state of affairs regarding the way that the ‘package’ and TUE’s situation has been handled from such a strong and easily identifiable leader.
As I began my deeper leadership journey, I followed the progress of Team GB Cycling and Team Sky, pausing the TV during an interview with SDB (Sir David Brailsford) to take a picture of the leadership books on his shelf, ensuring that they went on my own reading list. I was mesmerised, as I am sure we all were, with the attention to detail, meticulous strategy, marginal gain approach and the embodiment of leadership perfection resulting in stunning outcomes.
I am not confused about the TUE. If it was meant to be there, then in all likelihood, understanding the meticulous attention to detail involved with how Team Sky works, SDB would have known about it. A risk was taken and it back fired. What confuses me, is that by anyone’s standard, SDB’s ability to demonstrate the true characteristics of a leader were completely missing at a time when they were needed most.
The handling of the whole situation by SDB is a lesson for us all to heed. When a leader loses credibility, doubt spreads within the team and it is almost impossible to regain. Credibility and integrity are easy words to bandy about as a leader but very easy to lose. The more publicly this happens then greater the reputational damage to the leader. Trust errodes very quickly and team allignment shifts as doubt creeps in.
It was no surprise to read that Chris Froome, despite the employment by Team Sky of a media advisor, was not prepared to openly back SDB during a press conference, casting further doubts on SDB’s credibility as a leader. Why would Froome risk his own credibility and integrity when he clearly has his own doubts around those of SDB.
How differently this could have panned out. ‘Hindsight’ is a wonderful lens to reflect through but as a leader we must be prepared to recognise our own fallibility and be willing to embrace our mistakes and be prepared to put our hands up and say ‘I got it wrong’ or ‘I could have done it better’. Had SDB done this at the start of this incident, we may well have been applauding at the way he had managed it and the smooth way he navigated his way through it.
Let this be a ‘heads up’ to leaders at all levels, be quick to recongise when and where it hasn’t gone well and take responsibility quickly. Embrace and admit the mistake and then look at how to put it right. If we do this, then there is a chance that we can limit the loss of credibility and reputational damage and ensure that our own most valued assets (team members and those we lead) do not lose faith and trust in what we do. Once they have, as we see in Froome, it becomes almost impossible to support as you are left compromising your own values and credibility.
Ashley Meriman wrote in the Washington Post of ‘How leaders are more powerful when they’re humble’ and suggested that humility is: ‘when someone has an accurate assessment of both his strengths and weaknesses, and he sees all this in the context of the larger whole. He’s a part of something far greater than he. He knows he isn’t the center of the universe. And he’s both grounded and liberated by this knowledge. Recognizing his abilities, he asks how he can contribute. Recognizing his flaws, he asks how he can grow.'
Full article can be found here:
A humble leader would have would have recognised the mistake, taken stock, sought advice and fronted it out, putting up his or her hands, taking responsibility for it. They would not have tried to fudge the issue or mislead and would be driven by their own integrity and credibility and relied on it to shine through.
Leaders are only human after all.
Miistakes are an essential part of the leadership learning process.
Credibility is gained by recognising our mistakes and learning from them, not marginally diluting them in an attempt to deceive.
Do not ever underestimate the impact we have on young people’s lives as teachers.
We really are the ‘glue’ that holds it all together and leading up to the summer holidays uncertainty, loss of routine and fear can set in for our most vulnerable students.
As a parent, I know only too well the need of structure in children’s lives and for our most vulnerable students, the summer holidays and loss of the structure and support, that every member of the school community provides can create turbulence.
The fact that colleagues like myself, shout up and down the road about lateness and encourage students to run in, moan about uniform, jewellery, shoes, bags etc. Smile and laugh with, at or near students – before they have even set foot into amazing and learning fuelled classrooms provides and satiates needs that aren’t met in our most vulnerable homes.
This is what I mean about being the ‘glue’. This routine, the fact that I have spent most of the school year, like many colleagues in the profession, picking up the same students, about the same things, tells me that they need me to do it and shows them that I care.
As an early riser, I get to school and have my ‘specials’ sat outside my office reading. The look on their faces every morning when I say ‘Hi’ by name and watch their faces light up (yes he knows our names!) may well be the first positive interaction with an adult of the day.
More ‘glue’ holding it all together.
I am inspired by @jazampaw-farr story, watched her video and read her blog. We have a huge responsibility to ‘smile more, engage before educating, and go the extra mile to humanise students. Reassure them that the community of school will be here when they aren't’. The ‘glue’ in their lives disappears for 6 weeks and instability and fear can set in.
So, I am asking us to remember that we are the ‘glue’ and with that comes and responsibility – say ‘hi’, make jokes, smile a lot, ask about plans over the holiday, be warmer and more engaging, because for six weeks the ‘glue’ isn’t there! As adults, we can change our dysfunctional lives and do something about it (or try to at least!).
Our vulnerable students don’t have the luxury or the agency to do this and are stuck, relying on us and an over stretched care system to satisfy their basic needs, to provide love and care, which goes on holiday for the summer!
So please, make the last few days magic for your students!
Reading @imsporticus’s blog inspired me to write about something that has become increasingly apparent in discussions with colleagues this year and is a potential issue in school leadership and links to the Adidas Standard 9 about being open-minded and look forward toward the future.
Like @imsporticus, I have read and studied a great deal on the topic of leadership, both in school contexts and professional sport. I am an absolute believer in the 'aggregation of marginal gains' approach of David Brailsford and Team Sky and the constant need to reflect and ask 'how can we do it better?' I constantly test the theory and the practice in what I see and am driven by the question of how can we/I do it better for the young people we serve?
I first became consciously aware of the term 'cognitive dissonance' when it was discussed in Matthew Syed's Black Box Thinking. He describes cognitive dissonance as: 'where we spin the evidence to fit our beliefs rather than adapting our beliefs to fit the evidence'. So does this happen in school leadership? Do we, with the best of intentions, damage the very things we are trying to build at the expense of making an evidence base fit our own beliefs? Do we risk un-inspiring and demotivating leaders of the future by being cognitively dissonant, bending evidence to match our beliefs?
@imsporticus describes disillusionment when he recognised the disconnect between the rhetoric and the day to day leadership behaviours of leaders he had observed. Integrity, authenticity, trust, courage, are all admirable qualities of leaders and very easy to recite at interview but are much harder to embody, day in and day out. These differences can become chasms and very obvious when they are missing. They are very damaging for aspirant leaders, especially those that read widely or follow leaders on the twittersphere!
The danger is that when you are leading, everyone is watching.
So unless your behaviours match, there is a disconnect or dissonance. Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that leaders don't make mistakes, far from it. Good leaders, acknowledge, celebrate and reflect on them and move on, secure in the knowledge that their 'why', their values and moral compass will see them through. When there is dissonance, it can be very hard to have a leadership voice, which in the case of @Ieshasmall's introverted leaders becomes even more of a challenge.
So, I am suggesting that there is a need to reflect and test the leadership you observe in others against the theory or the evidence. These become important reflections that will help shape and define the leader you want to be, Much is learnt from observing 'how not to' as well as observing 'how to'. These become key components in building the leader you wish to be and can be tested against the theory that you read. I have lived a career by the phrase, ‘you are only as good as you last conversation’ – especially with your Headteacher but as leaders you are only as good as your last actions. If these uphold the values and are rooted in your ‘why’ then there will be a match and no dissonance or disconnect.
@imsporticus noted, the catastrophic damage done by dissonant, narcissistic, selfish leaders to those in their care. This, sandwiched with a desire to ‘bend facts to beliefs dissonantly’ damages the raw potential and desire to lead that we see in our aspirant leaders. Dialogue and opportunity are lost due to the change in culture; openness and challenge shrivel until we become fearful and just nod in agreement. Aspirant leaders will take their cues from the leadership behaviours of others and we then stagnate.
Leadership rhetoric is very easy but others will find you out if your values and behaviours don't match.
So, all leaders need to be open minded and look forward to the future, ensuring their rhetoric, values and behaviours match. Evidence is evidence and is a powerful tool. Failure is rich in opportunities to learn, which can be harnessed to do some good. Don’t bend it to suit your beliefs as there is a risk that the small bits, the nuances that make up working in a school are lost.
More importantly, the trust and belief of those who aspire to be like you, who are watching your every move, testing you against great leaders in their minds compared to the theory they are reading are lost or damaged.
My message for @imsporticus, keep ensuring that you ‘do the best you can for your colleagues and the children in your care’ - that is the 'why we do it'; keep questioning ‘how can you do it better?’ because at the end of the day, that is all that matters!
I wanted to reflect on @ieshasmall Introverted Leader talk at the Telegraph Festival of Education, after being left speechless by @jazampawfarr story above. I have combined these with my own views on what we do as leaders and what it means to be Relentlessly Optimistic for our young people.
@jazampawfarr asks us to consider which type of teacher we are going to be and I suggest that this can be asked as which type of leader we are going to be? Do you remember ‘why’ you went into teaching and then leadership? Do you care and advocate beyond the job because it is more important than performance tables and accountability measures? We manage the hope and aspirations of some of the most vulnerable members of our society and cannot afford to hinder the life chances of any students and these students in particular.
Now, from the What it means to be Relentlessly Optimistic video, you get a sense of my own feelings on this and the breaking down and running through walls analogy, whilst motivating and inspiring for some, isn’t necessarily how we all manifest our own leadership. Or can it be but in different forms?
The values may well be the same but how we make that happen can be hugely different and equally important.
@ieshasmall spoke about the benefits that the introverted leader can bring to school leadership, especially when complimented with extroverts. @ieshasmall noted five typically introverted traits and can be used as strengths. The link to @ieshasmall’s blog is below but I wanted to dwell on two of the traits identified, as I feel these connect the most with ‘why’ we do it.
‘Observation and the ability to notice what others may miss’ are essential if we are not to miss the current day @jazampawfarr’s of this world. This is something that could be missed if leadership is dominated by gregarious and extroverted leaders. We need leaders to notice all things but especially the small things!
‘Quiet passion’ – that burns and niggles is another of the traits identified in introverted leaders. Again, essential if we are not to miss any young people and ties in with my contention that actually, that fire and passion is the same as our extroverted wall-breakers but expressed and channelled through a different lens.
Ideally, leadership will be a blend of extroverts and introverts. The danger is the quiet voice of the introvert can be drowned out by the extroverts. There is a saying about being wary of the quiet person in the fight, as they sit back and watch trouble unfold and know that when trouble comes, they can take care of it. The same can be applied to leadership contexts, so extroverts need to know themselves and enable our introverts to shine through and have a voice. Extroverts need introverts spotting and noticing the small things, otherwise they will be missed.
@ieshasmall commented that ‘the most important thing for leaders of all types is to be really clear about our purpose and aims’; I feel it goes even deeper than that and that we have to connect with ‘why’ we are leading in schools. We have to lead to make a difference on everyone within the organisation. As @jazampawfarr puts it, we need to be ‘agents of transformation’ . We can do this as extroverts running through walls or as introverts, with a steely, considered determination to do whatever is needed for our young people!
As long as our values and ‘why’ are the same, the walls will come tumbling down!
As coaching has increased in popularity within organisations, there is still variance and confusion when attempting to define the term ‘Coaching’. The merging of two similar terms; Mentoring and Coaching creates misunderstanding when attempting to design programmes that assist personal growth and development. The differing nature of the two models will be discussed later in this report. Whitmore (2009) simple defines coaching as focusing on future possibilities, not past mistakes.
Cox Bachkirova and Clutterbuck (2014) develop this definition suggesting coaching;
‘Is a human development process that involves structured, focused interaction, using appropriate strategies, tools and techniques to promote desirable and sustainable change for the benefit of the coachee and potentially for other stakeholders’ (Cox, Bachkirova and Clutterbuck 2014 p1)
What is evident from both definitions, change is at the heart of the coaching process whether seen in a professional or personal environment.
For coaching to succeed a positive relationship between coach and coachee is vital to enable a coach to ‘Transform someone from one place to another’ or to empower a person to ‘move forward’ and create a preferred change (Starr 2011). Gallaway (1986) believes the essence of coaching can be surmised as unlocking people’s potential which allows them to maximise their own performance. The coach is helping them to learn rather than teaching those ways to recognise internal obstacles and successfully overcome them.
Whitmore (2009) suggests the need for the coach to recognise these internal obstacles being more daunting than external ones. Coaching can be used as a powerful vehicle to deliver change in organisations, focusing on increasing performance, achieving results and optimising personal effectiveness.
Coaching has intellectual roots in a range of disciplines: social psychology; learning theory; theories of human and organisational development are only a small selection that contribute to different coaching models. Cox et al (2014) state this diverse range of theories create exciting opportunities for meaningful interactions but could lead to confusion, particularly for novices who are embarking on their coaching journey. Identifying individuals with the relevant skills to deliver the coaching program will be discussed later.
Mentoring and Coaching – what is the difference?
Most teachers have been mentored in their career – as a PGCE student, Schools direct novice, a newly qualified teacher or after promotion. Not many in School XY have experienced or been ‘coached’. Mentoring and coaching share similar features, Cox et al (2014) connect mentoring and coaching, as an educational/learning tool that predominately occurs as a one-to-one process. However what makes them distinctive is the context in which they happen and the purpose for which the conversation is conducted.
Rosinski (2004) proclaims coaches act as facilitators, whilst mentors give advice and expert recommendations. Using Rosinski (2004), mentoring can be used for teachers and schools to manage career transition; mentors can use personal experience to support mentees who are new to role. Coaching is used whenever an individual feels the need to evaluate or reflect on their professional capabilities, strengths and areas for development. By adopting a coaching model it allows for authentic continuous professional development.
In education mentoring is a supportive process based on a long term relationship, between an experienced mentor and an inexperienced mentee. The mentoring process concentrates on meeting, fulfilling standards linked with performance. The course ends when the mentee is confident or proficient enough to carry on in their role without oversight.
Coaching is a peer to peer discussion with the chosen topic being proposed by the coachee. During this dialogue feedback is provided on areas of strength and development. The coach asks questions that fosters reflection within the professional, allowing them to set their own goals for improvement. These types of conversations held between coach and coachee, differ from mentor and mentee.
The coach does not judge or evaluate, complete ownership of the conversation is with the coachee. Coaching also empowers the recipient to direct their professional development in a more bespoke nature to improve their skill set. For the coachee to feel empowered, the coach must be skilled in many attributes. Empathy and active listening, are two key skills which allow the professional to direct their course of development.
‘The coach must think of his/her people in terms of potential, not their performance’. (Whitmore 2009 p14) Coaches need to be experienced but it doesn’t mean they need to be in a superior position or line manage the individual who is being coached; as this will facilitate an open and confidential discussion. Using staff with the necessary knowledge of coaching theory and experience of using this, will prevent informal chats and direct purposeful conversations. ‘Coaching requires expertise in coaching but not in the subject at hand. That is one of its great strengths’ (Whitmore 2009 p14).
Creating a culture for coaching and CPD
“You’ll get more from a £900,000 rider with a coach than you would from a £1m rider without one.” Sir David Brailsford
The foundations of school’s professional development should be a high starting point from which to build on; the need for world class continuous CPD for all staff should be an expectation not a possibility. Stover, Kissel, Haag and Shoniker (2011) believe teacher reflection can be the catalyst for change and professional growth. By adopting a coaching model this would encourage constant reflection from all members of staff.
In a typical coaching model, Mraz, Algozzine and Kissel (2009) proclaim teachers engage in a cycle of demonstration, observation and reflection. Joyce and Showers (2002) highlights ongoing modelling, practice and reflection over time as key elements for effective professional development. Creating a culture for coaching allows the cultivation of expertise in teaching or in any field. Adopting a coaching model that provides meaningful discussions, using feedback to challenge and overcome internal obstacles, will only strengthen the teaching within your establishment and transform pedagogy.
Not all teachers have the same needs or developmental requirements. Stover et al (2011) suggest a model of differentiated coaching to unlock potential. They view teacher/coachee reflection in different ways, but highlight the strength of considering the learning outcomes of the students. By developing this awareness, it can inspire teachers to continue their engagement in professional development, becoming stakeholders in their own learning with the support from their coach.
Joyce and Showers (2002) believe teachers benefit from a culture promoting practice and feedback as this enhances teacher’s growth and development but also enrich their instruction. With any professional development, a wanting to improve is at the crux of the thought process. For meaningful change to happen, teachers must have a voice in the process of their own learning. It is essential that coaches must heed teachers’ voices, by adopting a differentiated model this will engulf the needs of all not just a few.
Creating a culture for coaching encourages an inquisitive rather than an advocacy environment. Bawany (2015) states a coaching culture is an alignment between individual employee, team and organisational goals. For the culture to realise its potential Baweny (2015) claims a shared vision and a desire for personal mastery are vital for cultivating the desired ethos. Initiating a culture for coaching is a challenging concept but by using personal mastery could foster the personal motivation to continually improve in our practice.
‘Utilizing a deceptively simple framework, the GROW Model provides a powerful tool to highlight, elicit and maximise inner potential through a series of sequential coaching conversations’ (Bawany 2015 p2).
Adopting the GROW model allows the individual to analyse their own aspirations, a greater understanding of their current situation, the possibilities open to them, and the actions they could take to achieve their personal and professional goals. The model allows the coach to be reactive to the coachee needs, and they can move between the different elements at various stages in series of coaching conversations.
The use of effective questioning is a key element for this model to be successful. Implementing GROW alongside a differentiated coaching within the CPD model will allow teachers needs to be targeted with a bespoke programme of coaching. Previously mentioned in this report, using the right personnel as coaches is a vital requirement for success. Identifying teachers for coaching roles based on expertise rather than hierarchal position will establish an open and trusting relationship that will enhance professional development and self-reflection.
Toll (2006) recommends for coaches to build these relationships by creating non-evaluative support systems, making risk taking the norm and embracing continual reflection. Promoting a culture of reflection allows for greater collaboration and removes the feeling of isolation that is now common place in the profession. A culture for coaching encourages teachers and support staff to become stake holders in their own learning and gives them a sense of value within the organisation.
The majority of CPD which staff experience are from out-sourced agencies, who provide training on wide ranging topics. Professionals who attend these courses are expected to disseminate the information they have learnt, to their teams when they return. This normally takes place during departmental meetings. Evidence indicates when people are told something, recall dramatically declines. Whitmore (2009) uses the table below to exemplify this theory:
The Teacher Development Trust has undertaken research that indicates, only 1% of teacher training is deemed transformational and has limited impact on student outcomes. The study conducted supports Whitmore (2009) on how new skills need to be learnt. By evaluating the current CPD model, and questioning the thought process of sending teaching or support staff away on external courses. A teacher coaching model could be an important training model for a culture of continuous professional development.
Implementing any new strategy or initiative there are always positive and negative connotations associated with the process. The main costing concerns that surround coaching are the following:
Time – coaching does not lead to immediate results, in some cases the process can be slow, as relationships between coach and coachee need time to grow. In a school setting the allocation of time is another issue. Timetabling would need to be organised for both coach and coachee to have the same lessons free, if not this would create cover implications leading to financial cost or a lack of flexibility for when sessions can be held.
Coaching is highly skilled profession which requires training to develop and embed specific skills. Members of staff may not be willing to partake in training or expectations maybe placed on senior leaders to undertake the ‘role of the coach’. This may lead to a false coaching culture, due to the positions held by the coaches.
The benefits of using coaching as tool for professional development are vast, I have attempted to surmise the key factors below:
The development of highly skilled practitioners, who continually share good practice, raising the quality of teaching and learning. Lower staff turnover as staff feel more supportive and valued. Increase collaboration between departments, sharing ideas and joint observations. Use of technology can assist with lesson observations, targeting specific goals teachers have identified they wish to improve and generate coaching conversations, using footage videoed.
Education has now followed the business world by implementing coaching models to improve professional development. A federation of primary schools in East London have strategically placed coaching as the driving force for teacher development. The culture within their schools encourages collaboration and joint goal setting with senior members of staff.
‘The federation ensures that the consistency of the high quality of teaching and learning is supported by equally high quality professional development and training which focuses on the important details of refinement of effective assessment strategies’
‘Whole school professional development activities have improved many areas of teaching, including mathematics, the pace and planning of lessons and marking. The coaching of individual teachers building their confidence to stretch and challenge pupils.’
‘The session leaders are outstanding. The support they give to these trainees, who are at an early stage of their careers, through structured programmes and through individual coaching and mentoring is exemplary. The impact can be seen through the confidence and skills these trainees possess.’
(The evidence for the school listed above has been taken from Ofsted Report 2013.)
Cost benefit analysis of coaching:
The analysis below attempts to highlight the benefits of coaching in comparison to external CPD. The proposed claims do not attempt to discredit external courses as developing teachers in all areas of their career is vital.
The big question is, can coaching work in all schools? There is enough evidence to support the notion of yes but in reality there are many constraints. The number of staff that school Y has is well over one hundred. Could all of these staff be put through a coaching programme within an academic year? The answer is probably not but by using CPD time more productively, coaching sessions could take place within small groups on a half termly basis.
With budgets being drastically cut schools are now looking for ways to improve teaching and learning but with limited cost. Using expert practitioners to deliver bespoke sessions that will enhance one specific area of a teachers skill portfolio, will enhance the learning experiences of students.
Teachers who require a more personalised coaching approach, could be given one to one sessions with coaches to empower them even more. By embedding a culture for coaching within the school, coaching conversations would become the norm no matter what position they hold in the school.
The use of technology is a must as this removes some of the time issues that are perceived with coaching. Using Ipads or Star Lesson Monitor will allow observations to take place without the coach being there but will provide instant material for coaching discussions.
I have outlined my plan for the initial phase of the coaching model to be used within school Y to the Principal. The ‘two pronged’ approach of individual and community coaching was received well, and the first wave of coaching will begin in the new academic year. This will give me enough time to recruit the enough experts from within the school and discuss the coaching model with them. By using the prescriptive GROW model it will allow the coaches to gain an understanding of how coaching can work. Once confidence grows, other approaches could be adpoted.
Education is currently in a state of flux, by encouraging teachers to take risks and collaborate with each other will only strengthen the common purpose we share in the profession, which is to inspire the young people we teach to achieve more than just what is deemed acceptable.
By introducing a culture for coaching, professionals will become stakeholders in their own development and will continually seek ways to improve and this will have benefits for all parties.
From GROW to GROUP: A critical review of Brown and Grant; Theoretical issues and a practical model for coaching in organisations
Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 3:1, 30-45.
Coaching has always been acknowledged to be a successful developmental tool in the world of business. These methods used in large organisations have now been transferred into educational environments, spanning from primary, through to secondary and into tertiary. There is limited research in peer reviewed journals on coaching within education. A look at a range of leading journals yielded many articles focusing on executive coaching within the business sector. The theoretical piece of research that I have decided to review is stated above and was located in the; Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice.
The paper discusses the benefits of a group coaching model that is underpinned by Sir John Whitmore’s (1992) GROW model. The GROW model is widely used in a variety of contexts and this is why I have decided to review the article.
Brown and Grant (2010) explore the need to target interventions within organisations at group level, whilst acknowledging that most coaching is dyadic (one-to one) and that few models of group coaching have been developed. The authors have produced a piece of theoretical literature as it presents suggestions for recommend changes to coaching applications in organisations. The main findings of their work show the need to distinguish between group coaching and group facilitation. It identifies group coaching having an important but under used potential within organisations, in creating goal-focused change. The study attempts to merge coaching models with theoretical practices, to provide the coach with a framework to use when delivering interventions at group level. The results do not really highlight how group coaching is perceived or how successful when applied to different contexts. This critical review will attempt to decipher if combining models and theoretical practices create positive environments that sustain change.
This is an academic paper published by researchers at the University of Sydney and can be read in: Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice. The article seeks to evaluate the role of group coaching within organisations and discusses the many positives from using such an approach. It draws upon prominent coaching models and theoretical practices to evaluate the impact group coaching can have within business environments. The study has been conducted in two clear sections. The first solely identifies and discusses theoretical issues surrounding coaching, both at a dyadic level but also as a group. Throughout this part of the paper the authors review emerging literature on group coaching, but due to lack of quality research on group coaching, dyadic coaching is supplemented to support their arguments, on why certain models are needed to promote positive coaching environments. The second section of the paper analyses models and practices of coaching which are used in organisations. The main model discussed is Sir John Whitmore’s GROW, the authors adapt the basic principles of GROW to their model GROUP. The authors then explore and explain the fundamentals of the GROUP coaching model and what affects it could have at different levels within business organisations.
The main findings of the work are developed in the discussion around two key themes. Firstly, merging Whitmore’s GROW model and Scharmer’s (2007) U process for group dialogue allows for constructive coaching sessions that promotes and sustain change. Scharmer (2007) Theory U process proposes that the quality of the results that we create in any kind of social system is a function of the quality of awareness, attention, or consciousness that the participants in the system operate from. Secondly, for group coaching to be successful, the phase “understand others” must be reinforced to all participants, ‘to enable generative solutions at a systemic level rather than the more common reactive response on a symptom level.’ Brown and Grant (2010 p39). Furthermore, they argue the GROUP model is more of a mental model than a stepped, linear framework. Ultimately, they propose integrating the goal focused nature of dyadic coaching with the dynamic energy and systemic perspectives of inherent in group processes, fosters real change at individual, group and organisational level.
The aim of the authors is to review dyadic coaching approaches and compare them with a proposed model for group coaching. Brown and Grant (2010) state coaching within organisational settings continues to be almost conducted in a dyadic format; Hamlin, Ellinger and Beattie (2008) support this, proclaiming internal performance coaches are being used on a daily basis to develop professionals within many organisations. Throughout the first section of the article, it becomes apparent, the authors believe a greater emphasis on group coaching is needed. Wheelan (2003) criticises the dyadic approach as it fails to position systemic factors at the core of the coaching process. Scharamer (2007) supports both authors and Wheelan (2003) stating systemic awareness is needed for both individuals and groups to generate understanding of organisations and their various sub-groups. If this occurs real change can take place.
Throughout the first part of the paper clearly distinguish the difference between team and group coaching. The authors use the definition of Bloisi, Cook and Hunsaker (2003) to describe team coaching as; coaching specifically targeted groups where the individuals are working closely together towards a defined and accountable goal.
Another definition of group coaching is proposed by Hawkins (2011) as; ‘a process, by which a team coach works with the whole team, both when they are together or when they are apart, in order to help them improve their collective performance and how they work together, and also how they develop their collective leadership to more effectively engage with all their key stakeholder groups to jointly transform the wider business (Hawkins 2011 cited in Clutterbuck 2013 p19). Brown and Grant (2010) define group coaching in much broader sense; acknowledging that groups of individuals do not need to be working together towards a specific goals.
All the above definitions identify the importance of the group and using coaching as the driving force for change but it can be assumed that the groups being coached are at the top of the hierarchical structure within organisations. The authors use literature from both team and group coaching perspectives throughout the article.
Brown and Grant (2010) found that group coaching has a positive effect on team productivity as goals are set together and driven by a shared purpose. However, the study is small, and the findings are rather limited, there is a lack of empirical research to support the claims made by the two authors. Brown and Grant (2010) are perhaps too quick to propose that ‘group coaching’ method is better for organisations and businesses.
Brown and Grant (2010) aim to provide theoretically informed commentary to break down the common purpose of coaching; by linking the dyadic and group approaches the authors highlight the main focus which is change and growth. Brown and Grant (2010) propose the primary difference between both models of practice; is the need for group coaches to have a strong understanding of group dynamics in addition to the individual interpersonal and rapport –building skills necessary for dyadic coaching.
What is evident from the merging of models, is the need to understand group dynamics, with rapport being one of the key elements for group coaching to be successful. Brown and Grant (2010) recognise approaches to dyadic coaching vary considerably when discussing how coaching is delivered; this is mirrored in the emerging group coaching literature, which discusses different approaches. The literature outlines a long list of benefits attached to group coaching. Ward (2008) claims improved listening and communication, constructive conflict resolution and leadership development; are a few positive outcomes that can be delivered via group coaching.
These assertions seem very persuasive when supporting group coaching as a model for an organisation, but as Brown and Grant (2010) admit much of the reported benefits are anecdotal. Hackman and Wageman (2005) support the authors as there is little robust evidence that coaching interventions focussed on improving interpersonal relationships reliably improve performance.
Brown and Grant (2010) convincingly argue the importance to acknowledge the dyadic approach which underpins coaching models like GROW, though the authors do not offer an alternative with which it could be contrasted. Being a single case study, there is little indication of whether other coaching approaches could be used in a group context. The literature included within the article supports the reliability of the claims made by the authors around the understanding of group coaching.
The article attempts to distinguish the differences between group coaching and group facilitation.
Both practices are similar as they draw upon a wide range of theories and approaches, which originate from various academic and professional disciplines. The authors accept group coaching and group facilitation are extremely similar, having the same purpose for improving groups do better. Clutterbuck (2007) presents greater clarity between the two practices, when applied within a team coaching context. In his opinion the facilitator manages dialogue for the team and focuses them on decision making. The coach empowers the team to manage the dialogue themselves and focuses on goal achievement. The writers attempt to clarify the differences between the role of coach and facilitator is achieved but a level of overlap and ambiguity still remains, causing a blurring of the boundaries between the two practices.
Brown and Grant (2010) are explicit about the theoretical orientation guiding their research, clearly defining the concepts they use, which makes extensive use of these concepts in reporting findings and they develop a model to explain the variation in coaching practice that the authors found.
The second section of the article examines John Whitmore (2002) GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Way forward) model and how Brown and Grant (2010) use this to form a coaching model to guide the practice of group coaching. Brown and Grant (2010) merge GROW into GROUP, presenting their model as a more goal focused approach and as a possible alternative to other group dynamic approaches. The GROUP model (Goal, Reality, Options, Understanding others, Perform) clearly follows the initial phases of Whitmore’s famous GROW method of coaching.
What distinguishes GROUP from GROW is the understanding of others. Brown and Grant (2010) believe the ability to truly understand others is the key factor in successful group coaching. They further discuss the importance of this phase when shifting individual or group awareness, which enables generative solutions at a systemic level rather than the more common reactive responses on a symptom level. When delivering group coaching, dialogue not discussion is vital. Brown and Grant (2010) proclaim generative dialogue is central to the ‘Understanding Others’ phase.
Isaacs (1999) supports the authors by arguing that in discussion people see themselves as being separate from each other; where dialogue brings people together and generate insights. Scharmer (2007) believes dialogue enables a group to, ‘reach a higher level of consciousness and creativity through the gradual creation of a shared set of meanings and a common thinking process’ (Scharmer 2007 p49). Focusing on dialogue rather than discussion participants within the group will actively listen to each other.
Brown and Grant (2010) extend their model further by applying a review and evaluate stage to their model. This allows the action steps from the previous coaching sessions to be systematically reviewed and evaluated, before new goals are established or adapted. Underpinning the review and evaluate stage is double loop learning. Argyris’s (1991) approach to double loop learning supports the author’s use of this theory within their model. As Brown and Grant (2010) propose for the group coach to encourage participants to examine their underlying assumptions and mental models, and where appropriate the group to identify areas where personal change or transformation has occurred.
No detailed reference has been made to other research that might support Brown and Grant (2010) claims about effective group coaching approaches in business or educational settings, nor is any counter evidence discussed. Their claims would be more convincing if they had related them to others’ work. It is notable that Brown and Grant (2010) question the orthodox view of that 1:1 coaching is always effective. If most of the existing research supported the orthodox they set out to challenge, when the authors wrote their article there may have been little published evidence from elsewhere to support his view.
Clutterbuck (2009) identifies many issues with simplistic models of coaching. He highlights dangers in one model approaches, such as GROW and can be related to GROUP. Clutterbuck (2009) believes coaching becomes mechanistic and in some cases the setting of goals at the start of the relationship can sometimes be a crutch for the coach, rather than for the benefit of the coachee. Clutterbuck (2009) reasons that models such as GROW or GROUP are valid in appropriate circumstances, but can and sometimes demonstrably do lead to rigidity of thinking about their client. He further highlights the model, process or theoretical framework drives the learning conversation, rather than the learning conversation driving the selection of tools and techniques. It is clear from the article the model being proposed is purely goal focused and could be deemed rigid by Clutterbucks (2009) definition.
Brown and Grant (2010) conclusions are that group coaching should be widely used within different organisational contexts. Collective target setting promotes effective teamwork and increases productivity. These conclusions are fairly convincing for the context of business environments but I would question if such an approach can be transferred easily into an educational environment. The authors back their claims with a coherent piece of research that is, however modest in scope.
The writers could in principle have provided stronger support for their claims if they had drawn on a wider range of research literature on group coaching approaches in business and elsewhere, had investigated a wider range of organisational contexts and included outcome measures in assessing the degree of synergy achieved within selected groups that received coaching as a collective. However, given the modest scope of their research, they appropriately state their claims which are tentative. Brown and Grant (2010) avoid gross over generalisation by indicating that they are making claims only for a select sample of businesses.
Brown and Grant (2010) emphasise the importance of their model being client-centred, which allows for greater flexibility and the methodology is to aid the process of group coaching, not an ideology to be strictly adhered to.
The emerging academic literature around group coaching is still limited. Therefore, this article has attempted to integrate the dyadic GROW model with Scharmer’s U Process to produce a methodology that will assist in developing and promoting group coaching within organisations. The article highlights the lack of robust research that supports the proposed benefits of current literature around group coaching but do identify the need for focused interventions at group level.
In conclusion, can a group coaching model be transferred from the business sector into an educational environment? From critically reviewing this article I would argue that it could. The need to tackle under performance is vitally important in any school, by using a group coaching approach within departments, this could foster the necessary change that is required to improve standards. The approach described by Brown and Grant (2010) of harnessing the goal focused nature of dyadic coaching with dynamic energy inherent in group processes could have a dramatic effect on how teaching – teachers are developed.
The underlying issue by transposing this model into an education setting is the experience needed for the coach to tackle complex dialogues between staff and departments. There was a lack of evidence within the research that focused on how to improve group dynamics to ensure dialogue was productive during coaching sessions. External coaches could be an option but due to schools having contrasting budgets this would not be a viable solution.
The authors try to show what good practice looks like when using the GROUP model but I would argue that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that this approach would foster real change at the individual, group or organisational level in an educational context.
This is a response and reflection on @carminegallo post in Forbes : http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2016/05/24/3-daily-habits-of-peak-performers-according-to-michael-phelps-coach/#12338f6c194a
Bob Bowman is one of the greatest coaches of modern sport and guided Micheal Phelps to an unprecedented medal haul in both World and Olympic competition. It would be easy to attribute this success to raw talent, natural ability or a meticulously periodised training programme but when you scratch a little deeper, you will see it comes down to the practice of three daily habits to achieve excellence which can be equally as powerful to us a school leaders.
Habit No1: Vision
Bowman reflects that not one of his athletes had any lack of clarity about ‘why’ they’re in the pool and the focus for that day – micro-periodisation is a feature of elite training but linked with ‘why’ and I am hearing Simon Sinek running through my head adding brevity and significance to what each daily focus is. Bowman’s focus is to enable every swimmer to swim a medal winning time and to encourage athletes to focus on the process not the outcome.
Process not outcome is something that is hard for leaders to comprehend. In high stakes accountability of education it surely makes moral sense. If the processes are right the outcomes will surely follow? In Bowmans case it links to ‘controlling the controllables’ – his athlete’s may well swim medal winning times in training, heats and finals but may not end up with a medal. The medal isn’t the ‘why’, it is being fast enough – if you get that right process, the outcome will take care of itself! The same can be true for the relationship betweem the classroom and results. If the classroom is purposeful, engaging, challenging and with high expectations, surely the results will take care of themselves? In theory anyway!
This links directly to our previous post on ‘Better’ and creating an environment that enables everyone to succeed and feel valued in the organization. As Bowman says, ‘it’s more important to pursue excellence every day' and to remind yourself of the ‘why’ and ultimate vision to ensure sustainable greatness happens.
Habit No2: Mental Rehearsal
Bowman reflects on Michael Phelps’ ability to visualize himself and mentally rehearse every aspect of what he is going to achieve. What makes Phelps so good at this, according to Bowman, is that he is able to perceive every aspect of his performance, even to the point of sitting in the stand, overcoming barriers, running through different race scenarios, watching his race unfold.
Now how many times a day, a week, a half-term, a term, do we as leaders take an opportunity to deeply reflect on where we are and where we want to get to?
Bowman believes that the ‘brain is unable to distinguish between something that’s vividly imagined and something that’s real’ – this is a key concept in achieveing and believing we can achieve what we set out to do each day.
How much time do we focus on where we are rather than picturing and rehearsing the steps that will enable us to get to where we want to be? The reflections on the Relentless Optimism are just that in our desire to have maximum impact on the lives of the young people we serve and stepping-stones to doing it – be it seeking Headship, being the best leaders we can be or making the most impact on our young peoples lives.
Bowman says ‘If you can form a strong mental picture and visualize yourself doing it, your brain will immediately find ways to get you there’. This surely has to be something we adopt as school leaders into our day? - thinking through and ‘feeling‘ the steps that are going to lead us to where we want to get to.
Habit No3: Practice
It isn’t surprising that practice features as a key component to Phelps sporting success and is much talked about in Mathew Syeds’ Bounce and has lead to a greater understanding of Mastery and the golden 10,000hrs to become expert. But does this work in a leadership context?
Bowman reflects that Phelps trained for 365 days a year for 6 years in preparation for the 2004 Olympic games. School improvement would struggle to be allowed such a length of time but even so, clarity around the vision, coupled with mental rehearsal and practicing the right things undoubtably has impact.
The challenge is that excellent performers make it look easy. They are deceptive in how they make it look. Excellent leaders are no different but underneath this lies hours of practice that goes unseen. With authentic leaders the practice is discreet and it is the fundamental desire to get it right drives them. Bowman notes that ‘the wonderful result of practice is that you have literally programmed the brain for peak performance’.
So, what do we know now that we didn’t at the start of this post?
Vision is king – know where it is you are going but more importantly ensure every member of the organisiation lives and breathes the ‘why’ you are doing it.
Mentally rehearse the steps you are going to take to ensure the organization delivers the vision for your young people and colleagues. Mentally walk through the successes and barriers that you will potentially encounter so that they don’t hold you up and you can anticipate them.
Practice, practice, reflect and refine and practice! This is true to all aspects of your role as a leader. Mentally rehearse the difficult conversation, practice presentations so they look smooth and seemless, anticipate the curve ball questions with pre-thought out responses.
And don’t doubt ‘why’ we do it! To be relentlessly optimistic for the young people we serve and to make sure every single member of the organization feels valued in pursuit of doing it ‘better’!
I haven’t always agreed with Sir Michael Wilshaw.
But I have to say a lot of what he had to say here recently resonated with me. His speech at the TES Leadership conference suggests to me that there is at least a recognition that maintaining the status quo in schools will not bring about transformation.
He contends that ‘we are charged with…improving the lives of our youngest citizens, especially the poorest’. Agreed. He also argues that ‘the wise teacher and head adopts a persona that is tethered in some way to his or her personality’.
Agreed. But Wilshaw insists on describing teachers that want to make a difference, who possess a fierce moral conviction that young people deserve the best education as ‘mavericks’.
Mavericks? You mean like Dr Nick, the inept quack physician from the Simpsons? I agree with the Sir Wilshaw’s assessment of the qualities we need within the education system from the classroom through to senior leadership, but I disagree with the designation of this being maverick for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it suggests that there are only a handful of educational professionals who share a moral imperative to provide an education that is befitting our young people. It seems to me like a move back towards the idea of a solo leadership model rather than a model that utilises the capacity of all staff and cultivates leaderful teams.
Instead of a team playing Joga Bonita, you get that single right back that makes darting runs forward, but leaves his teammates exposed. Prizing extraordinary individuals over the synergy of getting ordinary folks working together has been shown to be a flawed strategy. Just ask Enron.
Secondly, I think to call for more mavericks obscures what Sir Wilshaw is actually describing and advocating. It is my view that the description of a maverick, able to be ‘part Rocky, part Henry and part Mrs Doubtfire’, is actually a description of emotional intelligence.
Wilshaw posits that these ‘mavericks’ cannily adapt a ‘persona to suit a particular student or a school need…great teachers and heads weigh up their students and schools very quickly and adapt their teaching and leadership style to suit’. This could very easily be a description of how people with high levels of emotional intelligence are able to respond appropriately to a range of situations, events and people.
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, writes, ‘managing relationships skillfully boils down to handling other people’s emotions. This, in turn, demands that leaders be aware of their own emotions and attuned with empathy to the people they lead’. If what Sir Michael Wilshaw meant to say was that we need more emotionally intelligent teachers and leaders in our schools, professionals driven by a moral imperative, who embrace the charge to improve the lives of young people through education, then I agree.
I agree wholeheartedly.
The question is, how are we currently recruiting, developing and cultivating the current and emerging teachers and school leaders to grow in emotional intelligence? How high is it on the CPD agenda in your local school? Yet, it will play a critical role in effectively bringing about transformation in our schools.
Both the adoption of, and resistance to change use the same blood stream of relationships. School leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence seem best able to negotiate the network of relationships that comprise our local and wider school communities.
If Sir Michael Wilshaw is calling for the ordinary teachers and school leaders of our schools to work together to do extraordinary things, for and with our young people, on that, we are agreed!
 pg 64. The New Leaders, 2002
Adidas is without doubt one of the leading sportswear manufacturers and a huge global success. Easily identifiable and innovative, Adidas has become a huge success.
This success wasn't accidental and did not happen over night. In this series of blogs, we are going to have a delve into the Adi Dassler Standards, the bible which at one time was given to all Adidas employees, which sets out the blue print of what and how this company became a giant of the global sports marketing world on built on simple, shared and embodied core values, something we believe will resonate with school leaders. We hope you enjoy!
Like all visionary leaders Adi Dassler started with a clear vision. Over time, following interviews with his trusted colleagues, these were identified and exemplified and became 'his' standards. He offered a definition of what is was to be part of Adidas and what he expected out of every colleague.
These were the core principles that were built upon to become and embody everything Adidas aspired to do.
Any organisation needs to have a clear idea of where it is going, these 'guidelines and measuring sticks' of success needed to execute and evaluate our performance are essential. Without them, much time and effort is wasted and opportunities are missed.
There is no doubt about the value of such a set of guiding principles and you will see as we explore them each week that these are in no way constraining but enable all members of the organisation to reflect and question 'how can we do it better?'
This constant reflection, coupled with a crystal clear vision, building the organisational trust, diligence & belief enabled Adi Dassler to create an organisation that embodies what schools can create, the only difference is that our 'product' or USP is our young people!
I had an inspiring day @TheKeySupport Performance Management Conference today and came across for the second time in 24hours, a quote that has caused me to reflect deeply on what it is we are trying to secure as Senior Leaders in schools.
@johntomsett shared this quote which I had also received as a text this morning by one of the @ROptimism team. It reads:
Just look after people!
'Too much sport operates under the tyranny of the result...the core principle at Saracens is that we gather talented people together, treat them unbelievably well and in return they try unbelievably hard. That is it. Everything else - winning or losing matches, winning or losing Cups - are just outcomes. They are not the primary aim. We exist to have a positive impact on as many people as possible'.
Edward Griffiths, CEO Saracens RFC
This quote represents a defining moment in shaping and consolidating my vision for Headship and will be a key component of any applications and interviews I am lucky enough to be invited to. My mission statement will be built upon 'better'. Better people - be it students, teachers, support staff, parents must be part of the core aim of any school community. In being better, everyone achieves and unlocks their full potential on the road to being exceptional.
I took some time out of school this morning to reflect on this and propose these slight tweaks to Edward Griffiths original statement. This will become my ultimate driver as senior leader.
Too much in education and school operates under the tyranny of the results and high stakes accountability structures. The core principle at the school I want to lead, is that we strive to gather talented people together, with the same core values and passion for our young people and we treat them unbelievably well. In return, they will try unbelievably hard to be exceptional in everything they do. That is it! Everything else, OFSTED, exam results, governmental change are secondary. They are not our primary aim. We exist to have a positive impact, nurturing and releasing the potential in as many young people and colleagues as possible.
This is a core driver, the leadership DNA that we live by in striving to do the best for the young people we are fortunate to serve, ensuring that colleagues are enabled to do everything in their power to be exceptional. In essence, ensuring everyone is focused on being better!
Better isn't a new concept and one of the @ROptimism key mantra's is 'how can we do it better?'. 'Better people make better All Blacks' we have already reflected on in a previous blog, so in essence, better leaders will enable better climates, better outcomes and therefore, better potential to be released in everyone.