Leaders, coaches, and mentors – like parents – make errors. More importantly, they garner the greatest level of respect when they acknowledge – rather than justify, explain away or ignore – their missteps. As humbling as it occasionally is, accepting and acknowledging our own imperfect behavior tends to be a more powerful and positive signal than always getting it right. Minimizing our flaws when they occur undercuts our credibility, and can be characterized by those we lead, our protègès, and our colleagues, as crooked coaching and crooked leadership. In examining ethics and integrity in Coaching, there are of course, those mistakes that might be made and can be learned from on the part of the Coach. There are other mistakes that must never be made – commission of some mistakes can lead to professional, ethical, and even legally imprudent damages.
Some of us worry about the current state of Instructional Leadership and to some extent Instructional Coaching in the United States. Here – and in multiple other nations – educators are not paid an amount even close to the value of their work, or anywhere near the long-term societal and economic development value of their labor. Underpaying teachers has led to the view, by many, that teaching is only a “stepping stone” job and not professional career. It has led to the flight of many of our best and brightest teachers, into fields as diverse as bioscience and web design.
We know that many who moved up the career-pay ladder in PreK-12 education were not always the best or the brightest among their teacher colleagues. Yet now they are often in positions that require them to judge the quality of teaching that they observe.
Most who serve as successful supervisors, mentors and coaches have certain traits in common.
- They often seek out and maintain their own mentors and coaches
- They appear comfortable in their own skin, especially when others are teaching them a new skill or paradigm
- They admit their own errors
- Admit when they don’t know something
- They commit to life-long learning of their profession
- They model-teach and solicit feedback
- They solicit feedback on their own coaching technique
- They listen and learn, every day
- They facilitate the learning of others – and sometimes that requires fewer words, not more.