Researchers Tschannen-Moran & Gareis (2015), found that the principal’s role has grown more complex to include 192 different tasks. It’s no wonder that principals are stretched thin and feel like they are playing a game of whack-a-mole.
One of the most important of those 192 tasks is developing your team. The best way to do that is through a coaching relationship.
Coaching is an art and science. The good news is that you can learn to be an effective coach. There are skills you can invest in like deep listening, creating psychological safety, and asking powerful questions.
So where can you start?
Below is a list of the best books for school leaders to grow their coaching skills. They represent books that I’ve read (and reread) in order to sharpen my skills.
The Coaching Habit shares “seven questions and the tools to make them an everyday way to work less hard and have more impact.” Michael Bungay Stainer delivers on this promise. Since reading this book years ago, a day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t used these questions.
I read The Prosperous Coach driving a long stretch of road in Bluffton, South Carolina on my way to be coached. The sun beat down through the dashboard, and Rich Litvin’s ideas showed me anything was possible by committing to sharpening my coaching skills. Since putting Rich’s ideas into practice I’ve coached 100s of school leaders from around the world. Yes, this book explores the business side of coaching, but Rich talks a good amount about the type of person you need to be to offer a transformational coaching experience.
Supercoach: 10 Secrets to Transform Anyone’s Life. This book pushed me to question some assumptions I made about performance and reframed them in a way that blew my mind. It challenged me to question what is possible and what holds people back.
Crazy Good: A Book of CHOICES. Our mindset is directed by our beliefs. Those beliefs influence the choices and decisions we make on a daily basis. If school leaders face 192 different tasks, they need to upgrade their mindset. This book has helped me make better choices as a leader and coach. The section on expectations versus agreements is gold (and that is just one of many sections).
Co-Active Coaching. Steven Covey calls this book “The Coaching Bible.” It’s not as reader friendly as everything else on this list and reads like a textbook, but the framework presented is powerful and worth the investment.
Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. This isn’t actually a coaching book, but it has a coaching application. The assertion is that we are either curious or judging in any situation. Coaching is about deep listening, curiosity, and asking great questions. But as a school leader who evaluates, it’s easy to slip into judgment mode. The problem: no one likes being judged. This book is famous for presenting “The Choice Map” where you can switch paths from judgment to curious at any given moment.
The World Business Executive Coaching Summit (WBECS) is my go to online event each year. Like many summits there is an extraordinary amount of information and each year I find at least one session that changes everything for me in a good way. I then take those new insights and immediately apply them to my coaching practice so I can serve my leaders at an even higher level.
The ripple effect guides my work. I look for a singular task that will create incredible value as it ripples throughout the organization. Refining your coaching skills is that one task.
This book list is a great place for school leaders to start to grow their coaching skills. Another great way to become a better coach is to invest in being coached.
If you’d like to go deep over the next twelve months and stretch in ways you never considered possible, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line “Deep Coaching.” In the body tell me how I might serve you during a powerful, one hour deep coaching session. It’s a no strings attached opportunity. At the close of the call, if you’d like to hear more about what a 12-month coaching relationship would look like, I’d be happy to tell you, but that choice will be yours alone to make.