Integral Coaching for EDUCATION LEADERS

To be an “integral coach”  means that we call on the many viewpoints of coaching, (see below) align, and integrate them into an approach that is quite unique—it engages both the coach and the person who is being coached.

Our definition of coaching is best described as helping people “doing, thinking, and being: doing a set of actions, holding a set of beliefs, and being in a way that results in those actions leading to change. These are the three things that can make coaching transformational.”                (The Art of Coaching, Aguilar, 2013, p. 20)

Our unique coaching model is also based on“co-active conversations”.  In this approach we “foster self discovery, self- awareness and choice.” Using“co-active coaching encourages and empowers people to find their own answers, and ultimately help people live lives of meaning and purpose.” (Co-Active Coaching, House, House, Sandahl, and Whitworth, 2011, p.xvi &xvii.) 

Patrick Howley has been coaching principals for over two decades, notably Guilford County Schools, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Detroit Public Schools. 


Doug Silsbee, (Presence-Based Coaching, 2008, p. 25) defines coaching broadly as that part of a relationship in which one person is primarily dedicated to serving the long-term development of competence, self-generation, and aliveness in the other.

He quotes others who describe presence as:  

  • “being yourself when you coach: your values, passion, creativity, emotion, and discerning judgment—to any given moment with a client.”
  • “. . . a deep listening of being open beyond one’s preconceptions and historical ways of making sense.”
  • “The ability to connect authentically with the thoughts and feelings others, in order to motivate and inspire them toward a desired outcome.”

Finally, he offers his definition of presence as “a state of awareness, in the moment, characterized by the felt experience of timelessness, connectedness, and a larger truth.”

Our approach then, integrates doing, thinking, being, co-active conversations and presence into what we describe as integral coaching. This Integral Coaching Model honors the person who is the coach, all that they are and all that they are becoming, just as it honors the client (principal) and all that they are and becoming. It honors, supports and guides all the outside work that is being done in the schools and all the inner work that the coach and client (principal) do together. 

If schools are going to change in any significant manner, the principal and coach’s work must be a transformational relationship. It must focus on transformational intrapersonal change, interpersonal change, climate and culture change and systemic change. This is what we mean by an integral coaching model. It involves both knowledge of self and awareness of self, knowledge of others, (children and adults) and awareness of others (children and adults). The Integral Coaching process involves all of us: our own coaching team, the people we train as coaches, the principal and all of the people in a school.  We, as coaches are guided by what we see as the truth in the following quotes: 

  1. All things change when we do.” ( Unknown )
  2. “We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.” (Rabbi Shemuel ben Nachmani, as quoted in the Talmudic tractate Berakhot (55b.)
  3. “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor.” (Former CEO of Hanover Insurance, Bill O’Brien)

Our primary focus then, is on six aspects of personal development: 

1) Growing up (knowledge of self), 

2) Waking up, (awareness of self) 

3) Opening up (sharing of self 

4) Clearing up (clarifying of self 

5) Cleaning up,(identifying and confronting hidden parts of self and 

6) Showing up (Being fully present with all the more developed aspects of self). 

We strongly believe that personal development leads naturally to the development of interpersonal skills. Our Integral Coaching Model therefore begins with helping people we coach to see more clearly their own stages of development.  We will use integral coaching to help them become more aware of themselves and others, identify key issues they need to address in their own leadership and take the actions necessary in their school to move the people and their programs forward.

Coaching with a person-centered approach

What is the person-centered approach according to Carl Rogers?

". . . during the course of my career,  . . . the various labels I have given to this theme . . . nondirective counseling, client-centered therapy, group-centered leadership . . .

The central hypothesis of this approach can be briefly stated. Individuals have within themselves vast resourcesfor self-understanding and for altering their self-concepts, basic attitudes, and self-directed behavior; these resources can be tapped if a definable climate of facilitative psychological attitudes can be provided. There are three conditions that must be present in order for a climate to be growth-promoting . . . The conditions apply, in fact, in any situation in which the development of the person is a goal.  . .

The first element could be called genuineness, realness, or congruence. This means that we are openly being the feelings and attitudes that are flowing within at the moment. The term “transparent” catches the flavor of this condition.

The second attitude of importance in creating a climate for change is acceptance or caring, or prizing – what I have called unconditional positive regard. (We) are willing for (people in our meditation group) to be whatever immediate feeling is going on – confusion, resentment, fear, anger, courage, love, or pride. (We) prize others in a total rather than a conditional way.

The third facilitative aspect of the relationship is empathic understanding.  This means that (we in the group try to) accurately sense the feelings and personal meanings that (anyone in the group) is experiencing and we try to communicate this understanding (to anyone who talks in our group). . . This kind of sensitive active listening is exceedingly rare in our lives." -Carl Rogers