We understand another person in the same way as we understand, or seek to understand ourselves. What we do not understand in ourselves, we do not understand in the other person.
—- C J Jung
Coaching practices in Asia differ from the conventional/ Western understanding due to the differences in culture and thus client expectations. This demands Asian coaches and also International coaches working with Asian clients to adapt their coaching style to fit the social context of their clients. Being a hierarchical society, coaches are looked up to, are considered wiser and more experienced. A more acceptable coach is someone who is older in age to the client, preferably salt and pepper hair and having held rather senior position.
The dynamics of coaching work changes with the difference in the social system, culture, and expectations. The clients expect the coach’s wisdom, prefer an advice as against remaining true to the ICF’s definition of coaching. Sometimes the coaches are torn between the Tell vs. Ask mode.
Have you considered, if executives are supported through their leadership journey by coaches, who can the coaches turn to, to reflect on their coaching work? As you read through this, obvious thoughts in your mind are likely to be:
- Aren’t coaches the mentally sorted lot, professionally trained and seasoned enough to deal with the challenges they may face in their work?
- How can coaches reach out to others to reflect on their work, considering they are bound by confidentiality of their work?
Allow me share with you my experience of SuperVision.
When I signed up, about two years ago for Coach Supervision, it was to meet the engagement requirement of an organisation. I was clearly not appreciative of “this term” in their contract that all their coaches must have supervision as part of their Continuous Professional Development.
After the first few sessions, I started to experience, a sense of a clearer head and lighter heart during professional engagements especially during my coaching sessions. Not much had changed except that in supervision I got to reflect on my coaching work, address my assumptions/ intrusions and started to witness a higher self-awareness of my thought patterns. It’s also the fact that I was being supervised by a trained supervisor who helped me reflect on my clients, my relationship with them and how I was showing up as a coach, in keeping me true to the coaching profession. Since then I’ve used coach supervision on a regular basis.
I’ve just completed my Coach Supervision Certification and thus this post is inspired from my journey as a Coach supervisor.
Coach Supervision as a topic is seen with a bit of skepticism, since its less known, also a topic that is uncovered in several coach training programs and thus coaches are unaware or uninformed and may even have an attachment to the word ‘supervision’ especially if they are in the corporate world.
Clarifying Coach superVISION
Coach superVISION is the practice where coaches get to reflect on their coaching work. It is an interaction between a trained supervisor and a coach for the purpose that the coach gets to expand his “vision”, in order to observe his work and explore potentials of blind spots and /or unconscious bias.
Unlike coaching sessions, where the focus is the client and his frame of reference, his values/strengths/vision/goals/motivations and what is in his circle of control/influence ; in case of supervision its the expanded view of inter-related elements which have a bearing on coach’s work.
Many coaches self- reflect on their coaching sessions which is also a recommended practice, but let’s appreciate, “We cannot see what we cannot see”, thus the practice of reflection with a partner, in this case a supervisor who’s trained to support coaches in illuminating the corners and sides that are not being paid attention to.
What makes supervision powerful are the multiple tools available for this expanded view such as- the Supervisor, the Relationship between the coach and the supervisor, the Relationship between the coach and the client; the coach him/herself, the broader system that all are part of.
What I discovered in supervision
I have been amazed at the topics/agendas that coaches bring in for supervision.
- I’m struggling to win clients, I feel I’m incompetent.
- My clients are dis-engaged I don’t know what to do?
- I feel challenged by a client and don’t seem to make progress…
- My client is not “Doing the plan”,
- I have limited clients- should I influence to extend the current engagements…
- I’m not sure how much to charge..
- I have this client who’s just like me..
- My coaching engagement has ended but it seems I’m still coaching the client free of charge and realized most of us have been in similar situations and have sought guidance from senior/more experienced coaches/coach friends.
What supervision is not
It is not Mentor Coaching, which is focused on strengthening and expanding demonstration of the ICF Core Competency skills and behaviors.
It is not any sort of control or Supervisor-driven as generally practiced in organisations.
How supervision can serve you
In my experience, supervision can serve you in the following many ways:
- Help you in managing boundaries
- Discover more than one fixed way forward
- Navigate through Ethical & Conflict of interest issues
- Manage judgment issues- self and others
- Better Contracting
- Managing Emotions better
- Discovering reasons/ways to deal with dis-engaged clients
- Managing being assertive/challenging/supportive
Coaching supervision globally
Regular Coach Supervision is a required practice by European and Australian coaching bodies while the largest coaching body, International Coach Federation (ICF) recognises it as part of Coach’s Continuous Professional Development and has announced that 10 hours of Coaching Supervision (delivering and/or receiving) will be counted toward Continuing Coach Education requirements.
This is definitely a welcome change towards encouraging coaches to take a pause, set aside sometime to reflect on their craft with a supervisor in order to expand their view of their coaching work. I promise they’ll be discover so much more that will truly transform their practice, expand their awareness of “How they are showing up as coaches” and benefits all coaching stakeholders.
What’s keeping us from supervision
Here are a few responses I received from coaches for what’s holding them back from supervision:
- Have good enough informal supervision from peers/friends and fellow coaches
- Don’t know much about supervision and how it works
- Too busy supporting clients, not enough time for self needs
- Misconceptions about supervision as being a practice/process of control, driving “we’re not good enough”
- Have few/many clients and thus feel no need for supervision as yet
- Concerned about the cost of supervision
Not sure if your reason is on the list, but give it a thought.
Supervision is a place where a living profession breathes and learns….supervision can be a very important part of taking care of oneself, staying open to new learning, and an indispensable part of the coach’s ongoing self-development, self-awareness and commitment to learning..
…Hawkins and Shohet
If you have any questions/comments about Coach supervision, pls write to firstname.lastname@example.org