The Coaching Chronicles #9: Increasing integrity
Updated: Jul 26, 2019
You reap what you sow. What goes around comes around. However you phrase the sentiment, the idea is the same. Those who want to live a life of alignment must be willing to put in the sweat equity to make it happen. There are always shortcuts in life, but none of them lead to desirous destinations.
The chase, however, is not devoid of benefit. Rather than a dreary pursuit full of denial and self-flagellation, the journey can be as advantageous as the destination. The more coaches pursue positive character traits and values, the more they align themselves with components that drive true happiness and well-being (Loehr, 2012). Coaching springs forth from a foundation of personal integrity. Without this, coaches are as useful as a race car without an engine.
One of the largest impacts that great coaching has on teachers is the legacy that is left behind. Not only do they assist in the moment, walking alongside educators as they traverse the daily minefields in the classroom, they leave a part of themselves behind. Powerful coaches empower the teachers they work with, affecting them long after the relationship has ended. Thus, coaches should ask themselves - how do they want to be remembered? What legacy do they want to leave behind? How do they want teachers to describe them? When pondering these weighty questions, personal integrity dances among all the answers (Loehr, 2012).
Whether through poor choices, inaction, or simple newness to a situation, some coaches start with little trust. Before making a large leap with teachers, asking them to trust in them without any good reason to do so, coaches would do well to walk before they ran. A simple way to begin to build trust is to make and keep small commitments (Covey & Merrill, 2006).
Start with easy tasks. When coaches communicate with teachers when they'll be in their classrooms next, they build trust by doing what they said they would. If a coach promises to send a resource or search for an article, it should be accomplished within 24 hours. Whatever the commitment is, no matter how small, trust begins to grow when the little details are seen to.
This principle also applies to self-trust. Sometimes coaches have difficulty building trust because, at their core, they don't even believe in themselves. Coaches can begin to build self-trust by creating a schedule and keeping to it. They can set guidelines for communication, such a 24-hour maximum response time for any communication received, and keep to it. If coaches don't see themselves as dependable, the teachers they work with won't either.
Building character muscle is best accomplished when coaches invest their best energy in the character strength they want to expand (Loehr, 2012). Just as bodybuilders have a strict routine, targeting certain muscle groups with various exercises, integrity can be developed by intentional action. Coaches, like other professionals, reap what they sow. If they desire to increase their ethical stature, they can do so by focusing on individual attributes.
For example, coaches would be wise to develop the virtue of patience. Knowing what it looks like is essential for growing character traits. Intentionally modeling patience in trying situations, even though it might seem stiff and forced, is a great starting point. Coaches can seek out their most troublesome teachers and go into the interaction with one goal in mind - to maintain composure and demonstrate patience.
More than simply modeling, however, coaches should also talk about the importance of what they are seeking to grow (Loehr, 2012). Putting character traits into words engages a different part of the brain and further cements the importance of what is being sought. Conversation around patience causes energy to flow in the direction of the targeted skill. More than that, coaches can even write about patience, reflecting on personal examples, or even hypothetical ones, in which the demonstration of patience benefited everyone involved.
Putting it into practice
Integrity, like any skill or knowledge that can grow with study and repetition, is not static. It is not something determined by one's genes, such as height or eye color. Instead, integrity is the result of choices that coaches make on a daily basis. Coaches should begin by making and keeping commitments to themselves. Once they see themselves as reliable, others can begin to do so as well.
Next, coaches should extend their dedication to their commitments with the teachers they work with. Once dependability has been established, coaches have a footing for establishing their values. The ideals they stand for must rest upon integrity. Without a personal commitment to ethical behavior, the pursuit of coaching is feeble.
The final step is remaining open to outside ideas (Covey & Merrill, 2006). Remaining unguarded inspires credibility and trust. When teachers don't have to worry about hidden agendas, their mistrust and suspicion begin to evaporate. Improvement in practice, one of the major goals of any coaching relationship, blossoms only when the bedrock of confidence and morality is assured.
It's the engine that drives the car.
The next post in The Coaching Chronicles examines the flip side of the equation - how coaches lose their integrity.
Covey, S. R., & Merrill, R. R. (2006). The speed of trust: The one thing that changes everything. Simon and Schuster.
Loehr, J. (2012). The only way to win: How building character drives higher achievement and greater fulfillment in business and life. Hachette Books.