Congratulations to Nicola Barrington, the first of our winners’ stories to be featured as part of our Inspirational Journeys stories.

Nicola submitted a case study of how coaching inspired transformational change for a deputy head teacher from a British School in Abu Dhabi. Her inspirational story focuses on her client’s experience of coaching and the impact it has had on his job. The coaching was conducted in five two-hour sessions and Nicola used the GROW process to establish action plans against goals (Goal, Reality, Options, Wrap up). She conducted Mental Toughness analysis after session 1 and after the end of session 4.

In his testimony, Nicola’s client reflects on his experience. “Through blocking off protected time, I am more effective and more confident that what I am producing is of real worth. Coaching has raised my awareness of my strengths. I feel more confident in my position at school and my sense of belonging and purpose with the Senior Leadership Team has increased.

If 10 hours of coaching makes you more effective, it has to be worth it. Having time to be reflective has got be advantageous to your role and your school. It also has a positive knock-on effect on the staff, students and the school community.

The coach is warm and has great wisdom, built on her experiences as a Head Teacher. This means she is very empathetic to the teaching role, which is in itself very comforting. The coach can listen really well and also ask questions that dig beneath the surface, not scratch it, and this help her client to become more self-reflective. I have thoroughly enjoyed my coaching sessions (even though I didn’t think I would!) and truly believe I have become more effective in my role, more visionary as opposed to operational.”

Nicola’s passion for coaching is evident from her work demonstrating the benefits of educational coaching for school leaders and the value of the coaching process in helping professional development, goal-setting, leader empowerment and enabling the coachee to understand themselves better for development.

We were impressed by Nicola’s professionalism in the structure and evaluation of the case study and so interviewed her to learn more about the coach herself.

How has coaching changed your life, specifically in how you think, feel and act?

I have become more tolerant and less judgmental. I experience meaning within the coaching conversation.


In what ways have you used coaching to have a positive impact on other people’s lives?

I have used the GROW model, ABCD model, clean coaching and various creative coaching approaches to help clients to raise their awareness and make progress towards goals.


What impact has that been?

The impact has been varied – increased confidence, awareness of the obstacles and greater clarity on how to overcome these obstacles, more focused planning and more strategic thinking, clarity on career goals, greater meaning, more effective time and stress management, confidence and approach to have difficult conversations.  


What have you achieved that you would never have been able to do without coaching?

I have achieved a sense of purpose in my life. I believe that my lifelong learning journey has led me to coaching and I use all my previous skills and experience to help me help my clients to flourish.


When you imagine your future career, what role does coaching play in you achieving your dreams?

I see myself taking my masters studies in positive psychology and coaching psychology forward and doing a PhD in coaching in education while running my own coaching business.


What advice would you give your younger, pre-coaching, self?

Embrace and celebrate who you truly are.


What advice would you give someone who had never experienced coaching?

If you want to flourish and achieve the best version of yourself, go for it!