Stakeholder Centered Coaching For Educators

Time is the one of the most important non-renewable resources.  When coaching leaders, ‘I don’t have time’ is the most common response.  BUSY, BUSY, BUSY.  Demands from the position, from those you report to, those who report to you, and those external to the organization consume your time and energy.

Before entering the room for a morning meeting of staff, I put post-it notes all over my shirt, tie, and sports coat. The opening was, from the time I come through the outside door and before getting to my office, this represents the requests for my attention.  The rest of the day, no matter what I had on my calendar, I tried to satisfy those requests so I could remove those post-it notes.

One strategy I tried was to come in earlier and earlier.  Once staff found out I was arriving earlier, more people came in earlier to get my attention.  Exhausted and spending less and less time at home with family, I attended a thinking skills and coaching workshop with Art Costa.  That was 1983. I remain grateful for Art’s coaching and guiding over the years.

I am grateful for Art and the Cognitive Coaching collaborative group where we developed and refined the model over the years.  Remaining open to continual learning (16th Habit of Mind by Costs and Kallick), learning from many authors, consultants, and the groups who had common vision has served me well as a practicing leader.  Every experience extended my learning and implementation skills.

African Proverb: “When an old person dies, a library burns”

Recently, I saw the following when reading my LinkedIn account.








Adapting this to schools, the heart of the district and community is site leadership.  Leaders, building and staff, make critical decisions daily about engaging students, having a wider variety of learning pathways for students and staff, and communicating with parents. Of course, central office can be extremely helpful in supporting the learning and provide resources for the school to build the best culture for learning.

One-way leaders can create a positive culture is making coaching available for leaders.  The best people have coaches to assist in getting better no matter what the work.  Athletes, musicians, dancers, teachers, etc.  The best organizational leaders have coaches.

When reading ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There’ by Marshall Goldsmith, I was shocked, stunned, and energized.  Could there be a way to elevate my leadership?  Could this business model be adapted to schools? Stakeholder Centered Coaching (SCC) by Goldsmith was getting 95% positive results with those who had the Courage, Humility, and Discipline to engage and sustain leadership goals. See the book summary at…nt-get-you-there/ ‎ After reading this book, knowing that Marshall was the number one business coach ten years in a row, I had to find out more.

The goal was to expand my repertoire with additional models.  We differentiate for students, why not for staff?  Why not for leaders?  I signed up for the training.  This is where I met Frank Wagner who was a partner with Marshall Goldsmith.  Frank led the training that expanded my knowledge, skills, and applications. SCC added an additional powerful coaching model to my repertoire.  I remain eternally grateful for Frank’s teaching, my learning, and the enduring growth to apply to school leaders.  BTW, I am getting 95% positive results with school leaders as well.

In the spring of the year leaders run around trying to complete the district evaluations.  Many times, it is a quick surface conversation ending with ‘sign here. With Stakeholder Centered Coaching there is stakeholder suggestions, leader commitment to work on one or two goals, and assessment.  Here is the process:

  • Find a leader who is good and wants to get better. They must have courage, humility, and discipline. Find a SCC coach.
  • Leaders identifies people who report to them whom they trust. It not necessary to be a friend but if they walk into your office and say we have a problem, you believe them.
  • Leader asks them if they agree to be a stakeholder and will give honest feedback.
  • Coach meets, calls, emails stakeholders and ask questions. (Coach tells the leader what the questions are)
    • What are the good qualities the leader already possesses?
    • What are the challenges where the leader could get better?
    • If you had one or two suggestions for improvement, what would they be?
    • Anything else about the organization the coach needs to know?
  • Coach receives this information confidentially, put it into themes, and meets with the leader to decide on one or two goals to work on. (CAVEAT:  many leaders want to work on five or six goals. WRONG. If you can’t do one or two, five or six won’t work) Many times getting better at one or two will solve other issues.
  • Leader tells the stakeholders of the goals the leader is going to address.
  • Coach and leader work together nine to twelve months on agreed upon goals with check-ins and mini-surveys.
  • Coach checks with stakeholder two or three times during the coaching commitment to get stakeholders view of progress.
  • Assessment done by an external person halfway through with a mini-survey and/or at the end of the coaching commitment to assess progress on a -3 to +3 scale.

It is important that the leader believes they are making progress.  More important is if the stakeholders believe the leader is making progress.  Self-reporting typically is not very accurate.  (See Dunning-Kruger Effect)

Educational leaders that have used this process are getting between +2.0 – +2.5 ratings by their stakeholders.  The process involves getting feedback from those who are receiving the leadership which is more authentic assessment of how the leader is performing.  The trust level is increasing and through coaching the repertoire and flexibility to use that repertoire is flourishing.

Another application is teachers have started using this in their classrooms. How cool is that?  My belief is this could change the way schools and systems supervise and accelerate leadership.


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