Are you an educational leader looking for ways to build the teaching and learning capacity of your school?

You know there is an opportunity to develop further your own practice, and get more value out of the professional development already on offer for your staff but it can be tough juggling all the competing priorities that confront you in your day to day role.

  • Perhaps you are grappling with how to be that instructional leader who gets everyone pulling in the one direction and using their talents in ways that really make a difference?
  • Maybe you are uncertain about how to give clear, productive feedback?
  • Or are you struggling to find the time to achieve all the admin things you need to do as well as being as influential in teaching and learning as you would like to be?

How we can help

At growth coaching international we work with educational leaders looking to get better outcomes... from themselves, from their staff and ultimately from their students.

As one of the longest established Australian companies involved in coaching in the educational context we work with educational leaders who recognise that the quality of leadership across the school is one of the most important drivers of improved teaching practice and student learning outcomes.

Our acclaimed coaching and leadership skill development approaches, help you and your staff:

  • clarify the challenges
  • set clear direction
  • achieve sustainable improvements
Watch GCI's Dr Kris Needham and Dr Jim Knight (Research Associate, University of Kansas Centre of Research on Learning) discuss the use of video as a data gathering tool for coaching conversations about teaching practice.

Our clients include:

  • Government school leaders in every state and territory across Australia
  • Leading independent schools across Australia including, Hale School Perth, Haileybury Melbourne, St Ignatius (Riverview) Sydney plus many more
  • Catholic Education Schools in the Dioceses of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Toowoomba, Rockhampton and more
The most important factor in moving schools forward? "that the principal is a learner".

Michael Fullan (2010) All systems go: The change imperative for whole system reform. Corwin Press: Thousand Oaks CA

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Upcoming Events

Coaching Accreditation Program - 2014 Dates

SYD 24-25 Jul | MEL 31 Jul-1 Aug | BRI 10-11 Jun
CAN 3-4 Apr | LAU 7-8 Apr | DAR 1-2 May
PER 15-16 May | ADE 29-30 May | NZ 14-15 May

CoCoaching: Conversations about Teaching Practice

MEL 5 Mar | Bri 2 May & 13 Jun

"Excellent! Fabulous professional learning for educators in addition to learning the specifics of the Growth Coaching Model." Louise Barnott-Clement Principal, Ambarvale High School, NSW

8 Mistakes Commonly Made with Performance Reviews

It is widely recognised that the extent of engagement and passion of the individual employee will directly and significantly impact on the level of outcomes and success for an organisation. Given we also know that leadership is a significant contributor to this passion and engagement, then it is astounding that one of the most critical leadership tools available to managers is often under-utilized… the performance conversations.

McKergow and Jackson in their book, The Solutions Focus, have found that the vast majority of people leave a performance review meeting feeling very glad it’s over so they can get on with the “real stuff” and worse still… 80% feel less motivated than before the performance review.

So, what are some of the more common mistakes made with performance reviews and how can we avoid them?

Mistake 1
Trust – the lack of it

As Daniel Pink points out in Drive; The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, if we ignore the motivation that comes from a sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose, we are overlooking the power of intrinsic motivation.

So a high level of trust in the individual is central to any performance review process. This starts with the belief that the person in front of you could be creative, clever, courageous and self directed and if led well, will demonstrate this.

Mistake 2
Goals – Too many and not “real”

Most performance conversations do not result in a manageable number of “real” goals that are inspiring for the person being managed. Many such meetings result in the manager telling the team member of the goals they need to focus on in the coming months or year. Unless there is a feeling of; “I’d want to get up in the morning to have a go at that goal”, there is a low chance that there will be any sustained effort.

What a wasted opportunity!

A solution is to make the performance conversation an integral part of a process, rather than an event. Goal setting is something that is done in a collaborative partnership where trust is high and the “real stuff” can be raised by both the team member and the manager.

Mistake 3
Reality – Focusing on what’s missing

Traditionally as leaders, we want to know what’s missing and what’s not working so that we can fix the “problem”. An alternative is to explore what is working, and to leverage off the strengths that have contributed to that. The most direct route is to find what works and do more of it!

Mistake 4
Options –Those of the manager

Within a coaching approach to managing performance, the person being managed is encouraged to develop a wide range of options themselves. The manager may ask creative questions to open up lateral thinking in the team member, such as; “What would someone else tell you to do here”? The manager would revisit the strengths the team member has had affirmed earlier and ask; “Are there possibilities if you were to use the strengths that have worked for you in the past”?

Mistake 5
Will – Planning “big” steps rather than “small” ones

In our enthusiasm to see goals achieved we can rush to closure and can encourage our team members to choose options that they are not fully committed to. The “will” to turn a selected option into actions is the point here.

Questions such as; “which of these options do you have some energy around” and “what option could you get started on next week”, encourage the team member to focus on the small steps they will commit to and turn into action.

Mistake 6
Tactics – Lack of small steps to ensure we “get started”

It is here that the “how and when” questions are asked. By planning the small steps that have to be taken in the next week or so and recording them, the bigger steps naturally happen as a result of momentum. We find asking questions like; “what would you need to do just prior to that?” brings the coachee to the immediate small steps. This requires trust by the manager that the further actions beyond the small steps written, will in fact be taken.

Mistake 7
Habits – Overlooking what will sustain success

Often our good intentions just don’t transform into results. We spend time forming the goals and possibly even write down some actions only to find that at the next meeting….nothing has happened!

I’d recommend time is spent every 4-5 weeks checking in with the employee. These check ins can be brief, but the key is for the manager to know the team member’s goal(s) and to provide specific, personal and genuine praise and recognition for the effort given and progress made, towards goals. From time to time, new options may be explored, with new actions written for the next period.

Mistake 8
Celebrating Results – Or Not!

Celebrating effort as well as achievement regularly is a critical aspect of managing performance. An MBA is useful…but an MBWA (Management by Walking Around) is critical!

This article was recently published in the The West Australian View here

About the author

Grant O’Sullivan

Grant O’Sullivan is an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management WA and Director of Leadership Development with growth coaching international heading up the work undertaken in WA, SA and the NT. Grant has a career background that has included general manager, board chair, director of schools and school principal and is a highly sought after keynote speaker, facilitator and trainer working across the country. Read More →

9 Questions to Ask About Coaching in Your Organisation

The coaching industry has grown significantly in the past decade with increasing awareness of what coaching is; more organisations using coaching as a people development strategy; more university programs and more PhD’s being undertaken into coaching related research.

All this is good. This growing interest though brings with it greater questions and challenges about the impact of coaching.

A recent research paper published by Jericho Partners in the UK (Gilkes, 2010)* sought to identify current practices in organisational coaching. A qualitative survey and interview process involving senior HR professionals in 17 leading UK firms across different industries concluded that... “The organisations surveyed were generally found to be using coaching in a relatively unsophisticated way. Executive coaching was often tactical rather than strategic and the systems and processes remain quite under‚Äźdeveloped.”

In response Gilkes developed the Coaching Maturity Profile as a framework for thinking through some of the strategic and system issues that can impact coaching effectiveness. He proposed that organisational coaching be evaluated against 9 criteria:

While this brief report was based on a small sample it does raise key questions about the strategic context of coaching in organisations and offers some suggestions about how to move forward on some of the challenges.

Currently we are in the process of undertaking some of our own small research projects evaluating the impact of several coaching interventions in which we have been involved. Watch this space for more the results and trends emerging from these studies.

Those of us committed to coaching will do well to consider these questions and better still integrate responses to them as we set up coaching projects so that we can ensure that coaching retains a place as a legitimate and valued people development approach.

Happy coaching!
John Campbell

*Gilkes, John (2010) The Challenge of Coaching in the Current Climate. Jericho Partners. London: UK

About the author

John Campbell BADipEd, MAppSc (Comm Mgt), MAppSc (Psych Coaching) AFAIM

John Campbell is the Managing Director of growth coaching international where he specialises in leadership and work team coaching.

He is enthusiastic about helping to build ‘thinking capital' and ‘relational capital' two of the crucial areas that he believes can make a significant impact on creating competitive advantage. Read More →

How to Make the Chatter in the Head work for you!

The internal voice or ‘chatter in the head’ has long been identified as a source of influence on the successful completion of goals. More often than not the ‘voice in the head’ is viewed as an obstacle to success since it seems frequently to undermine confidence and challenge our ability to undertake the goals and challenges that we aspire towards. Quite a lot has been written about the power of affirmations and positive statements as a way to rewrite the voice in the head ‘tapes’ so that they are more supportive of what we might be trying to accomplish.

Now it seems that there might be a bit more to it...

Recent research1 at the University of Illinois investigated the impact of positive affirmation self statements, and the findings indicate that self questions may have more influence in building motivation and commitment to goal achievement than self statements!

In experiments conducted by Professor Dolores Albarracin , participants , prior to undertaking a simple word puzzle task were required to either spend 1 minute wondering whether they would complete a task or telling themselves they would. Participants showed more success on tasks when they asked themselves whether they would complete it than when they told themselves they would. Similar results were confirmed in follow up experiments.

"We are turning our attention to the scientific study of how language affects self-regulation," Professor Albarracin said. "Experimental methods are allowing us to investigate people's inner speech, of both the explicit and implicit variety, and how what they say to themselves shapes the course of their behaviors."

"The popular idea is that self-affirmations enhance people's ability to meet their goals," Professor Albarracin said. "It seems, however, that when it comes to performing a specific behavior, asking questions is a more promising way of achieving your objectives."

All this seems to add further to the mystery and the impact of questions, both those posed to us by others and those we ask ourselves. We know that the questions we ask have a powerful role to play in moving those we coach towards new insights and new actions, now it seems that the unspoken, internalised questions people ask of themselves have an impact as well. All the more reason to keep building our repertoire of incisive and thought-shifting questions!

Happy coaching!
John Campbell


  • 1University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2010, June 1). Will we succeed? The science of self- motivation. Science Daily. Retrieved September 7, 2010, from

About the author

John Campbell BADipEd, MAppSc (Comm Mgt), MAppSc (Psych Coaching) AFAIM

John Campbell is the Managing Director of growth coaching international where he specialises in leadership and work team coaching.

He is enthusiastic about helping to build ‘thinking capital' and ‘relational capital' two of the crucial areas that he believes can make a significant impact on creating competitive advantage. Read More →