Strategies I Use in Coaching

Sherry Grossman, Director of Coaching and Consultation

How Does Coaching Work?

My work as a coach began as a supervisor, director and mentor to bring out the best in each individual. After years of nurturing leaders in schools I sought out training to take my coaching to a new level with the Coach Training Institute (CTI) in the Co-Active Coaching model developed by Laura Whitworth, with Karen Kimsey-House, Henry Kimsey-House and Phillip Sandahl outlined in Co-Active Coaching: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life. For more information see CTI’s website www.thecoaches.com  and took my skills to Gateways.

How does Coaching work? Coaching begins with YOU, your values and your vision. Co-active coaching can help you sharpen your focus and create the life you want to live as a professional. Coaching clients look at their life and their work and are willing to discover their choices rather than simply solve problems. 


Coaching differs from therapy. Coaching focuses on the present and future while therapy includes more work on the past. The content and process remain confidential and may use some similar techniques. In truth, several therapists trained with me. Coaching can be done over the phone or in-person, while most therapy sessions take place in-person. In coaching the client and coach design and re-design their alliance together. Coaching starts with the belief that people are creative, resourceful, and whole and the coach holds the client accountable to plan and act confidently beyond sessions.

Coaches offer a new way of ‘seeing’, ‘listening’ and ‘being curious’ about every single interaction.  They ask provocative, powerful and direct questions. They wait for the client to find his/her own answers.  Working toward developing a flexible perspective means being able to stand strong in different viewpoints. These two playful yet serious strategies serve as tools to tackle challenging situations:

1) Put the problem or topic being faced in the center of a virtual “pie” on the floor.  Invite the client to stand in her “integrity” space and speak to the issue from there.  Then walk across to the opposite ‘pie’ piece and speak from the most uncomfortable stance. Together the client and coach draft a map of the results and continue walking through several different perspectives facing the same issue.  Label each pie (perspective) piece and crystalize the characteristics of each perspective.    Make a choice about which stance works best to address the issue.  The client decides when and where to confront the challenge and then reflect with the coach!

2) Each of us has different internal thoughts that can get in the way of our success.  These negative voices can be called ‘gremlins or saboteurs’. They often take up too much space in our brains. When my coach asked me to write about and personify my saboteur, I ended up labelling this gremlin my ‘woulda coulda shoulda”.  Each time I tried to wiggle out of a tough situation I had to stop and remember that I could choose to kick my gremlin outside of the coaching room/session and practice using my strong and bold stance.

Coming up with a new approaches to the same challenging situation during a coaching session brings a sense of curiosity and new energy to forge ahead rather than a barrier to action.

Who Seeks Coaching? People in transition, professional educators, teaching team members and school leaders seek positive life and leadership changes in a space where their voice and ideas come first. Given a shift in personal or professional goals, changes in relationship(s), a new professional in a new position facing very challenging situations in the classroom, feeling the deep desire to create balance at work/ in life, and coping with a major loss, transition or change.

In the words of a client: “My coach listens with her whole self.  She reminded me of things I had said last week, last month and last year. The life lessons we worked through help me not just personally, but they give me incredible insight in how to be a professional special education teacher who really “listens” to her students.  I am so grateful for our time together.”

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