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“Who am I as a coach now?”

Liz and Doug introduce their concept of Super-Vision for coaches: a reflective learning partnership born out of the upheaval of our times. They reflect on conversations they have had with various leaders and clients and ask: What does this mean for how our coachees lead their people? What does it mean for how we coach them in the emerging, evolving “new normal”? And how can Super-Vision help us adjust to and lear from this new world?

Liz Nottingham
Doug Montgomery
Reflective Learning Partnership: An offering to Coaches in this time of upheaval

Why?

Now, more than ever, we coaches need a safe space to pause, reflect, and refresh ourselves. We believe that Coach Super-Vision provides just such a space for all coaches.

The current Covid-19 crisis has and continues to necessitate many changes in the way we live and work, not just in our own little bubble, but across the UK and indeed the world. This raises many questions:

  • What will we return to when the threat of this pandemic recedes? 
  • What will the new normal be like for coaches, clients and client organisations?
  • What do we want our coaching practice to look like, now and in the future? 
  • How can we incorporate the experiences we are going through during these difficult and threatening times into our own work as coaches?
  • How do we separate our experience of lockdown from that of our client so our work is clean?
  • How can we support our clients in incorporating the things they appreciate and the opportunities they have taken up into their lives and organisations?

Indeed, perhaps the biggest question of all is: “Who am I as a coach now?”

Much of the “former normal” we took for granted is slipping away to reveal what is important; what is really important. 

Now, more than ever, we coaches need a safe space to pause, reflect, and refresh ourselves.

The path ahead is one of uncertainty and potential risk as well as opportunity. Leaders we talk to are noticing change in the behaviour of their teams and challenging how they think about their leadership. Coaching clients are reporting that staff working from home, physically removed from their managers and leaders are showing more resourcefulness, thinking for themselves and operating with less dependence on being told what to do. With no one at the next desk to ask for help, there is less cop-out from taking responsibility. Others are reporting that with the unimportant being removed, they have time to think about their work, their colleagues and their own wellbeing. Others are finding that processes have been simplified and streamlined without losing integrity.  These external signs of change are important markers of what the future may hold. Internally, many leaders are finding themselves thrown off course and having to re-think their leadership role, purpose and identity. These are big questions. What does this mean for how our coachees lead their people? What does it mean for how we coach them in the emerging, evolving “new normal”? 

Illustration by Mhairi Montgomery, 2020

For us as coaches, we are working with clients in new ways, remotely, beamed from our home into their living rooms. Depending on your relationship with technology , this can be liberating or limiting. It is certainly different. Our view of our clients is different, literally, from meeting them in their office environment to seeing only head and shoulders while getting a glimpse of their home, and they of ours. Our own coaching practices need to evolve to service this “new normal”. What does the prospect of returning to commuting, meeting clients in offices and meeting rooms evoke for us coaches – what have we been glad to lose, what do we miss?

Indeed, perhaps the biggest question of all is: “Who am I as a coach now?”

So why do coaches need supervision?

We share a belief that these times are revealing important information about who we are, how we operate, and how we want to be in the future. We believe that noticing these things and bringing them into the foreground is a reflective process best done in partnership. 

David Whyte encourages us to “not name things too soon.” By naming something “too soon”, we deny it the possibility of taking shape and emerging as something that we may not have any idea of yet. Similarly, Otto Sharma advocates “letting go (of our knowledge and assumptions) to let come”. Both these emergent concepts seem highly relevant today as this crisis evolves. We believe that “who we are is how we coach” and supervision supports our growing awareness of who we are and how we coach.

What is Super-Vision?

The Coach Super-Vision* is a facilitated learning partnership founded on a strong relational presence that will enable and deepen your own reflective practice. 

We think of coach super-vision as a multi-perspective ‘super’ form of ‘vision’, which brings multiple lenses through which to view and explore you and your coaching practice. 

At its best, Super-Vision offers a safe, reflection space in which to take stock and learn as you evolve and develop your coaching practice, whether one-to-one or in small groups.

This current opportunity to learn from our experiences of these monumental global events will probably (and hopefully!) never arise again in our lifetime. It would be a pity not to find sufficient pause in which to extract all the learning we can from this time of suffering so as to co-create a better future. 

Small group Super-Vision is designed for coaches who want to increase their reflective capacity and learn from their own experiences and the experiences and perspectives of others. This facilitated reflection enables you to explore who you are as coach and individual, and who are you in relationship with your coachees and clients. 

Accessing your felt sense, emotions and energy allows whatever needs attention to emerge. In Super-Vision, we pay attention to your development as a coach, your professional practice, and your energy and psychological well-being. In partnership, we offer to hold your feet to the fire of “not knowing and not naming” just that little bit longer, so that you may let the new come forth. 

How?

We have found that by incorporating a variety of approaches in our group work, from reflective writing, drawing, and imagery, to magic boxes and constellations, as well as appreciative enquiry, embodiment and breathing practices, walking in the landscape, and the power of metaphors, we are able to serve different preferences. In doing so, we also introduce coaches to new ideas and thus widen the range of techniques they themselves offer to their clients.

Who?

The authors, Doug and Liz, are independent accredited coach supervisors and experienced business leaders from different industries. Doug’s a former research scientist and senior leader in the pharmaceutical industry. He now runs an independent executive coaching and coach supervision practice. Liz’s background is in senior HR roles, where she supports and oversees the development of senior leaders. 

We both trained in coaching supervision at the Coaching Supervision Academy, where we learned that “Who we are is how we supervise”.  We base our own supervision on the premise that “Who you are is how you coach”.  

For further information and a conversation about what Super-Vision could mean for you, contact Doug or Liz via email to arrange a call.

*We do not subscribe to the notion that “supervision” is about checking the coach is doing it right!

The time to be developing our Super-Vision as coaches is now.

This is one of three blogs published by Doug and Liz during Internationalsupervisionweek to describe what supervision is. It was also posted on the Coaching Supervision Academy Ltd website (https://lnkd.in/e8FZXQK)

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