In an environment of complexity and uncertainty, Coaching Supervision helps you to step back and take a broader view of your coaching practice. To uncover the blind spots and see what you cannot already see in your own work. This deeper level of reflection is what helps you to develop your practice.
Many coaches work to the point of exhaustion… which isn’t good for anyone (not for you, or for your clients). As a new coach you might be very keen to establish yourself, which leads to taking on too much and trying to please everyone. Or as a more experienced coach, you might feel ‘worn out’ from years of compassion, caring and commitment.
Please get in touch if you are interested in working together or making a time to meet and learn more about my supervision philosophy and approach.
“As my coach supervisor she has been supportive and challenging at the same time. She gives me a safe space to reflect and look at my growth areas with kindness. She also offers much needed guidance and suggestions from her experience and referring to coaching frameworks. Working with her allows me to reflect on my coaching with kindness and my learning journey with optimism. Julie also provides an amazing space of companionship where just hearing “I’ve been there too, this is normal and I’m here for you” has been so important for me.”
Lucy, ACC, Brisbane
Supervision or supervision?
Why coaches need coaches…
According to the Association for Coaching, Coaching Supervision is “a formal and protected time for facilitating in-depth reflection for coaches to discuss their work with someone who is experienced as a Coach. Supervision offers a confidential framework within a collaborative working relationship in which the practice, tasks, process and challenges of the coaching work can be explored.”
- you, as the coach (the person receiving supervision),
- your coaching clients,
- the sponsor, where the organisation is paying for coaching, and
- the Coaching Profession (by developing standards, quality control, and ethical practice).
The coaching profession may still be young, but it has matured to the point that buyers of coaching services need ways to compare and differentiate between coaches. And having regular coaching supervision – whether one-to-one supervision, peer supervision or group supervision – is a clear indication of quality.
As coaches, we know how valuable regular reflection and questioning of our work can be. But why would you bother to invest in supervision? My own experience of Coaching Supervision is that it can be both energising and grounding. Just think of the phrase “you should fit your own oxygen mask first”.
Research shows that coaching supervision benefits:
As a great coach, you are the instrument. And because you’re human you’re not a perfect instrument – none of us are. Coaching Supervision is a space where you can be imperfect. A place where you can ‘service’ the instrument, which is a bit like running an update on your PC! It’s a place where you can explore what you consider to be your mistakes or failures and share any ugly thoughts you might be having in a safe environment. It’s about becoming a reflective practitioner of your own work.
Supervision is about getting you to reflect on your coaching habits and pushing you to experiment more. In one-to-one supervision I may sometimes offer you feedback on where you are at and how you can improve, raise issues of self-deception, or highlight ethical concerns. One-to-one supervision is also a restorative space where you can reconnect with your confidence and recharge your batteries.
Different Types of Supervision
One-to One (paid) Supervision
In one-to-one supervision an appropriately trained and qualified supervisor will use different models of supervision to examine the issue you choose to bring to supervision – this could relate to client case, your own development, or your own welfare. The aim of one-to-one supervision is to develop your competence, capabilty and capacity as a coach.
Professional (paid)Group Supervision
Professional group supervision, like one-to-one supervision, is about reflective practice. In a 90-minute session with a group of 4-6 participants, an appropriately trained and qualified supervisor will use different models of supervision to examine the problem/case brought by 1-2 of the group participants and ideally the person bringing an issue will rotate between sessions.
Where both coaches are trained supervisors, they may contract to exchange time rather than money for one-to-one supervision.
Peer Supervision Group
A peer supervision group is different to professional group supervision because there isn’t a qualified supervisor being paid to run the group process. This sort of group is non-hierarchal and the group leader role is often rotated, with no money changing hands. The coach brings a challenge they are facing in their coaching to get feedback from their peers (Turner, Lucas and Whitaker, Peer Supervision in Coaching and Mentoring, 2018).
Definitions of Coaching Supervision
“a place for the coach to reflect on the work they are undertaking, with another more experienced coach. It has the dual purpose of supporting the continued learning and development of the coach, as well as giving a degree of protection to the person being coached”. (Bluckert, 2004)
“a formal process of professional support which ensures continuing development of the coach and effectiveness of his/her coaching practice through interactive reflection, interpretative evaluation and the sharing of expertise”. (Bachkirova, Stevens, & Willis, 2005)
“a structured formal process for coaches, with the help of a coaching supervisor, to attend to improving the quality of their coaching, grow their coaching capacity and support themselves and their practice”. (Hawkins & Schwenk, 2007)
“is the interaction that occurs when a coach periodically brings his or her coaching work experiences to a coaching supervisor in order to engage in reflective dialogue and collaborative learning for the development and benefit of the coach and his or her clients.” (ICF)
How do I find the ‘right’ Coaching Supervisor?
Finding the ‘right’ supervisor is similar to the way a coachee finds the ‘right’ coach, in that the relationship is critical.
Research suggests there are key capabilities of exceptional coaches – credibility, empathy, holding the professional self, insight, flexibility, working to the business context, personal responsibility and skilful challenging (Dagley, 2010) – and as a coach you should look for these same capabilities in an exceptional coaching supervisor. The Association for Coaching has also published a framework of Coaching Supervision Principles.
Supervisors clearly need knowledge and skills over and above those of a coach and the skills a supervisor should possess are different from that of a highly experienced coach. While it may be another decade before there is a rigorous accreditation process for supervisors, you should select a supervisor who holds a credential and has completed a reputable supervision program.
The ICF have suggested the following minimum requirements for coaching supervisors:
- Be an ICF member which implies that the Coaching Supervisor is familiar with and abides by the ICF Ethics and Standards and
- Not be under any sanctions from the ICF Independent Review Board for violations of ethical conduct and
- Be an experienced, mature, preferably credentialed coach – at least 3 years FTE practice and
- Has continued expanding exposure to and knowledge of coaching approaches beyond their original coach training.
Coaching Supervision for ICF Credential Renewal
The purpose of coaching supervision is to generate coach insights through guided reflective enquiry that will improve the quality of your coaching; and hence expand your coaching capability and confidence. For this reason, the ICF allow you to count up to 10 hours of Coaching Supervision toward the 40 hours of Continuing Coach Education (CCE) you require for credential renewal.
Further information about Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – including information about what can be counted as Core Competencies and what is counted as Resource Development – is available on the ICF website.
Please note that this information is correct as at July 2020.