By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Professional Institute for Instructional Coaching (TPIIC)

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

 I just read an interesting blog titled, “Feedback Coaching: How to Get Results with Tough Love published online by InPower Coaching ( In this blog, Dana Theus says, “…one thing I notice… particularly those women and men who have what research might call a ‘feminine leadership style’ is that too much empathy can get in the way of the other person’s ability to understand what you really would like them to do.” I’m not even going to address the label for this type of leadership style mentioned!

First of all, in a truly effective instructional coaching role, a coach doesn’t expect a teaching colleague to do something the coach wants the colleague to do. That misses the entire point of effective coaching relationships. Coaches are not experts; they engage in collaborative conversations that are contagious! They engage in coaching interactions that are reflective and confidential, enabling both parties to delve into their practices in ways that are revealing and sometimes uncomfortable. And, the most promising conversations are messy, authentic, and generated by the questions asked, not by the participants being told what to do. Tough love or not… the most effective conversations are not full of praise or pity… they are based on getting better at the craft they are practicing by identifying the needs and ways to refine those practices.

I will admit that further in the blog, the writer does suggest that “Coaching feedback doesn’t tell someone how to do something but creates a safe space within which they can try, fail and succeed to figure it out themselves.”  That’s more of the message that I would convey in describing effective coaching interactions. Of course, in any coaching situation, the conversations are non-evaluative and non-judgmental. It doesn’t matter what the coach thinks is important; it matters what the partnership looks like, what the goals are, and multiple opportunities for the ongoing collaborative conversations that focus on moving practice forward – all with the absence of ego!

What is your experience with the “tough love” notion of feedback?

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