In Step With Change

In May 2018 I attended the annual UK International Coaching Federation (ICF) conference, with its theme of ‘Dancing in the Future’. The conference theme centred on how to remain agile, not rigid through change.

As a former school Principal, I am all too aware of the intricacies involved in running a change agenda. Indeed when I coach corporate executives I tell them there is much they can learn from their counterparts in education!  Is there a more change centred and multi-faceted environment than leading a school?

To navigate through these times requires a transformative outlook and one in which Dr Simon Haywood in his keynote address at the conference described as a “paradox”.

The paradox of leading change

There is an essential paradox between being an “enabler” and a “disruptor” when influencing and leading change.


In a sense being an enabler is very much aligned to the idea of transformational leadership- being collegial, creating vision and clarity of direction, empowering and working together. A key element here is learning to be agile, dancing rather than stomping into change.


Being a disruptor can be seen to be at odds with the idea of an enabler. We are talking about being bold and decisive in decision making, questioning the status quo and creating new ways of thinking and operating. This approach is about critically reflecting on best practice.

Within this paradox, the idea of embracing the contrasting roles whilst keeping agile can be key in leading change, with coaching providing essential support throughout the process.

You can learn to be agile through the following ways:

Seeking opportunities to learn:

Working with a coach allows you to identify where how you are currently operating, to establish what your goals are and to craft strategies and opportunities to achieve these goals.

Create space to reflect and learn:

A key component in learning is the ability to reflect on practice. This is a barrier I find when working with leaders. Is it a priority to craft the time to stop, pause and reflect? To effect change you first need to focus on facilitating that change in yourself. Setting time aside for coaching can be an effective tool in igniting this process.

Use feedback to fuel learning:

Alongside an organisation’s performance management data, there are a variety of leadership and strengths assessments that provide clear multi-source feedback from a range of stakeholders on performance. This data can give a clear foundation for subsequent coaching conversations to help fuel learning.

Change is constant and although uncomfortable at times, can also bring opportunity. Understanding the paradox of change and learning to be agile are key components in helping you move forward in a volatile and fast paced environment.


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