States of Being: The What Why and How of Coaching Urgent School Leaders

The Why

We make big audacious promises to our students and families. There are times we have to be bold with a colleague to rise to these promises. We have to tell them* a hard truth. We have to hold a mirror to them driven by our desire and moral and ethical obligation to make it right for students, staff, families, and communities.


Maybe we have to help a colleague interrupt a pattern, or see that they aren't meeting agreed to expectations. Perhaps they just insulted someone with a micro-aggression, or undermined the team.  Or – arghh -- perhaps we have to let them go.


Being bold helps us hold a mirror to our colleagues, driven by the desire for them to become the highest vision of themselves by shifting behavior toward that end. It becomes less daunting to be bold and make hard decisions when we are utterly clear about who our primary stakeholders are. Our palms are less sweaty and our hearts beat more evenly when we keep this at the center.

Supporting States of Being

See the Higher Self: Coach to assets. Be Compassionate. Walk in their shoes: Honor Story: ListenEveryone Has a Piece of The Truth: Gather perspectives. Be Present: Remain Unattached to Outcome. Quiet the Ego: Check in before checking out. Notice Repetition: Interrupt patterns. Acknowledge Mystery: Trust intuition


The How

Step 1


Step 2

  • Before we engage in a bold conversation, practice it over and over with at least one trusted colleague or coach.


Step 3

  • Inhale 4 counts/exhale 8 counts

  • Inhale Courage. Exhale compassion or love

  • Remember that boldness and kindness can and must co-exist

  • Before you begin, imagine the person at their best: a moment that you saw them succeeding

  • Listen and Quiet the Ego


Step 4

  • Notice your triggers and check your feelings

  • Say with kindness what you see and feel because honesty and high expectations are ethical

  • Connect the dots between your highest vision of your colleague and the assessed area of development

Step 5

  • Allow space for your colleague to absorb your words

  • Ask if this assessment rings true or feels familiar

  • Leverage strengths toward desired shifting behavior

  • Or, pull the firing bandaid off quickly.

Close by asking What's clearer to you now?

Potential Traps

  • Allowing your ego, anger or impatience to drive your conversation and responses

  • Needing to be right or even a score

  • Using the situation to gain power

  • Being conflict averse


This works with students, too.

Potential Traps

  • Getting triggered

  • Getting angry

  • Getting even

*In each State of Being, I will toggle among pronouns She, They, and He.

States of Being, Linda Belans EdD.