You may remember that back in episode 48, I announced my word of the year is clarity. And as I reach the 1/3 mark of 2023, I am feeling a good bit clearer on who I am as a leader and leadership coach, how I want my work to flow, and on my vision for the better world I wish to see. I also realized that a lot of you probably could use more clarity about what leadership coaching is, and what leadership challenges can best be addressed with leadership coaching. So today I’m going to share my definition of leadership coaching, as well as a few examples of leadership challenges that a coach can help you conquer.
Resources Mentioned in this episode:
And My Word for 2023 is...Clarity! (Challenge #48)
Why Mastering Challenging Conversations is the Key to Kind Leadership (Challenge #22)
Who Will Tell You When You’re Being an Idiot? (Challenge #49)
When's the Last Time You Asked for Help? (Challenge #50)
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This episode was produced byPodcast Boutique.
You may remember that back in episode 48, I announced my word of the year is clarity. And as I reach the 1/3 mark of 2023, I am feeling a good bit clearer on who I am as a leader and coach, how I want my work to flow, and on my vision for the better world I wish to see. I also realized that a lot of you probably could use more clarity about what leadership coaching is, and what leadership challenges can best be addressed with leadership coaching. So today I’m going to share my definition of leadership coaching, as well as a few examples of leadership challenges that a coach can help you conquer.
Welcome to the Kind Leadership Challenge, the podcast that empowers educational leaders to heal their organizations in ten minutes! I’m Dr. Sarah Clark, founder of the Kind Leadership Guild, where I use my PhD in Higher Ed leadership and nearly 2 decades of experience in academic libraries to coach leaders like you who want to build a better world without burning out.
Kind Leaders aren’t perfect, and we don’t need to be. We strive to make tough decisions without becoming jerks. We design systems that enable our teams to make a big impact without overworking. And we know that once we stop controlling and start collaborating, even the most ambitious vision can become effortless. Kind Leadership is pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. So if you’re up for a challenge, stick around as I teach you how your school or library can create a resilient, thriving legacy that will strengthen your community long after you’re gone.
First things first, we need to get clear on the difference between leadership instruction and leadership coaching, at least as I see them. And as an ex-reference librarian, I sort of think of leadership instruction like a library instruction class session, and leadership coaching like a 1 on 1 research appointment. Both are important in creating stronger information seekers and kinder leaders, but they are two different things.
Leadership instruction is a bit like introducing a roomful of college students about the ins and outs of searching for resources, avoiding plagiarism, and critically evaluating sources in a single 50 minute class session—maybe two if you’re lucky. The flow of information is mostly one-way, perhaps with some student activities or a homework assignment at the end. Leadership Instruction is what you get every Monday morning on the kind leadership challenge. Most weeks I fire up my microphone, talk for 10 minutes or so about a topic of interest to leaders who want to build a better world without burning out, and send you on your way with a challenge that will help you take action. And I am of the opinion that basic leadership instruction shouldn’t be paywalled, in terms of either money or time. Most of the people listening to this show are leaders in education, libraries, or some other service-oriented profession. By definition, that means your money and time are limited, and must be invested in the things that provide the biggest bang for your buck. If you are ready and able to take action to heal your organization, I give you the information you need to do so. And if you were to tackle each week’s challenge, I guarantee that in a year from now, your organization will be forever changed for the better—and the kinder.
And that’s great as far as it goes. But I can’t tell you how many times after a library instruction session I would have a perplexed student approach me after class, or more often sending me an email, letting me know that they’re still feeling stuck with their assignment and don’t know where to start. And that’s where a research appointment, or leadership coaching, comes in.
Library instruction provides students with the skills they need to complete their research. A 1 on 1 research appointment shows them they have the ability to complete their research. A student often comes to a research appointment with a topic idea that is vague, broad, or confused. Librarians use open ended questions and the search tools students learned in their instruction session to help them to refine their own topic, hone in on the questions that need answering, and create a plan to find and synthesize the information they need.
And so it is with leadership coaching. As of right now I’ve given you 63 kind leadership challenges, and explained the skills you need to start tackling them. However, even with the what clearly explained, you may be stuck on the how. You may doubt your ability to take on your challenge, you may be confused about the steps you need to take, and you may even be suspicious about a solution that seems too simple to be true.
That’s the moment where you need to reach out to a coach. That coach can be your boss, or mentor or a trusted advisor. Or it can be me. The point of this episode, and the 64th challenge I’ve given you on this podcast, is that if you feel stuck, reach out to someone who can coach you toward the confidence, clarity, and trust you need to get moving and start healing.
Here are some typical challenges that I’ve coached leaders through:
I need to have a difficult conversation, but I don’t want to be a jerk.
I need to better prepare my team and my community to cope with change.
I need to create our next strategic plan, but I’m not sure what we should focus on.
I need to better manage my time.
I struggle to delegate and I don’t know why.
I need to make a change or advancement in my career, but I’m scared and confused.
I need to be a better negotiator, but I don’t want to become a bully.
I need to be a better networker, but I hate schmoozing.
I need to leave my world better than I found it, but I don’t know where to start.
The thing that ties these coaching challenges together is that you already know the answer to your challenge, whether or not you’ve realized it yet. And you already have the power inside you to address any leadership challenge that crosses your path. All you need to build a better world is a kind voice outside you who can show you your own power, cut through your confusion, and trust in your ability to build a better world until you find that trust within yourself.
I’d be honored to be that kind voice for you as you work to build a better world. If you want to get another perspective on your current leadership challenge, just head over to kindleadershipchallenge.com/coaching to learn more and sign up for a free 30 minute coaching session. Whether we only talk the one time, or we jointly decide that it’s the first step of a longer coaching relationship, you will leave with the confidence, clarity, and trust you need to take on your challenge.
Thanks as always for listening to the kind leadership challenge. Before you go, here’s a quick way you can spread the word of kind leadership. I’d like you to take a moment to think of a friend or colleague who might benefit from this week’s episode. Then, open your app or head over to kindleadershipchallenge.com/64 and share this episode with them. Never doubt that day by day, you’re building a better world, even if you can't see it yet. So until next time, stay kind now.
Discover what Kind Leadership is (and isn't) in this four part series!
In the next 45 minutes you'll learn the first steps to healing your organization--and yourself--so you can start building the better world that you desire and your community deserves.