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

The Why

With good coaching, people can resolve many of their challenges and make transformational change. 

Often, when a person feels unable to solve a problem, the sense of it expands into an unwieldy mass. Sometimes, challenges seem overwhelming, making it difficult for a colleague to see how she has the tools to solve her* own problems. Asking her to define the problem, coupled with what we know her strengths are, make the problem knowable and clear. You can push her thinking, but resist the urge to tell her what to do because if you do, she will be back in your office next week with a similar, but slightly different problem to solve, and expect you to solve it for her.

Discovery is key in coaching and learning. By helping her connect the dots, she will learn how to solve many problems, take leadership and ownership, and you will learn a lot about how your colleague thinks and works. 

Supporting States of Being

The How

 Step 1


Step 2

  • Inhale 4/Exhale 8

  • Inhale appreciation/exhale compassion or love

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

Step 3

  • All talk is big talk: Ask your colleague what success, big or small, she has recently had

  • Ask nonjudgmental questions about previous similar challenges she has resolved

  • Use Coach to Assets framework to glean strengths from her Story

  • Appreciate the colleague’s knowledge and experience that you have observed

  • Help your colleague connect the dots between previous experiences and the current challenge


Step 4 and ongoing

  • Notice your own feelings and silently name them in order to manage them


Close by asking: What's clearer to you now?

This works well with students, too. 


Potential Traps

  • Certainty that you have the answer before listening to your colleague

  • Believing that progress only comes from telling rather than asking

  • Being impatient

  • Focusing only on results

  • Viewing people as obstacles not allies

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

*States of Being, Linda Belans EdD