Using Your Coach—Wisely and Well
Granted, this is a bit self-serving, but I’ll say it anyway: One of the best things that Generations offers its schools is 40 hours a year (for three years) of individualized coaching. Like most good things in life, however, getting the most out of your coach requires some assembly and a lot of planning. It also takes commitment.
Here are the two cardinal rules of coaching:
- That we (coaches) meet you where you are; and
- We then guide you to where you want to go.
It’s that second rule that is the unique selling proposition of coaching—and sometimes the sticking point for clients. In order for coaches to be effective, clients must take a seat at the table.
“Taking a seat” simply means that you have clarity about what you expect—and need—from a coach.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching this way:
Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
PEJE, in its Guide to Coaching points out that “coaching is directed toward improving what happens in the future, based on what is happening in the present.” PEJE goes on to point out that coaching is “a co-active relationship” where coaches and clients work together to “co-create a plan to meet the stated goals, co-construct a process, and co-operate as partners to carry out the plan.”
Because each client is unique it is essential that you—the leadership team—have clarity on the needs of your school. And because it is a partnership, there must be commitment to the process. Generations makes things a bit easier—there are universal benchmarks to be met. On the other hand, not all schools are at the same place.
In order to keep to the benchmarks, and, more importantly, to create a sustainable endowment and legacy program, it is vital to use your coaching time wisely and well. For some schools, that will mean regular meetings to brainstorm ideas and get guidance on direction; for others, it will mean training and help putting a structure in place. For others, it will be all of the above.
Whatever your need, it is critical to remember that coaching is a collaborative process. We can help you to break down your goals (and those benchmarks!) into actionable steps. We can provide expertise based on your school’s resources and strengths, and we can help you get to where you have decided to go. But then it is up to you.
You must do the work, but we stand behind you—as supporters, as cheerleaders, and as coaches, helping to get your team to the championship playoffs.
After 20 years as a development professional working primarily at educational institutions, Janet Levine started her consulting company in 2007. A Generations LA coach, she works with day schools and other nonprofits to help staff and lay leaders improve their fundraising skills and increase organizational fundraising capacity.