What is Coaching Supervision?
Let us define what coaching supervision is, noting that this is a growing area of coaching psychology research, and this definition will likely expand and change over time as the body of research grows.
“Coaching supervision is a formal process of professional support which ensures the continuing development of the coach and effectiveness of his/her coaching practice through interactive reflection, interpretive evaluation and sharing of expertise “. (Bachkirova, Stevens and Willis, 2005).
In the same way, clients seek out coaching to improve their leadership and their lives, coaches can engage in coaching supervision as a practical and effective way to improve their coaching practice.
Coaching supervision fulfils three essential functions (Proctor, 1987).
Normative – It ensures that the coaching delivered is professional and ethical. Supervision provides a confidential space to discuss ethical concerns such as conflicts of interest, or where the coach feels the quality of the coaching is being compromised by power dynamics with the coaching setting. Many of these issues are highly complex and are without a black or white solution.
Formative – Supervision provides a space for feedback and direction to develop coaches further. Coaching cases are reviewed in detail. Supervision assists the coach in becoming more aware of the effects of the self within the coaching relationship and a part of the system that the coach has now become a part of. Supervision creates a space to discuss the coach’s interventions with the client and develops a more systemic view of the coaching engagement to improve coaching outcomes.
Restorative – By listening and supporting coaches to support growth. This is also extremely important as many coaches work with clients who have suffered trauma. Having a safe, confidential space to unpack this is critical in preventing coach burn out. Coaching supervision is also a space to support coaches wellbeing.
It is highly doubtful that any coach can deliver coaching with empathy if they have not taken care of their own wellbeing first. Coaching supervision provides a safe space to discuss these important issues of self-care.
Why is Coaching Supervision important?
Despite coming from many different coaching approaches, cognitive behavioural, solution-focused, psychodynamic, narrative, many coaches agree that the gaining of insight for clients is a key desired coaching outcome from which growth and progress can occur. Without insights it becomes harder to help our clients move forward.
The same blindness or not knowing that affects our clients is also a factor that gets in the way of coaches delivering outstanding coaching outcomes. As coaches, we are hampered by the same limitations are clients’ experience. The hope is that we are more open to noticing and acting on this feedback to enable us to be better coaches.
It seems that in some ways coaching supervision is the cart that came after the horse, many years after the development and acceptance of coaching as an effective mechanism of change. In many ways, as an industry, we seem to be playing catch up from a quality perspective.
The positive news is that many professional coaches are engaged in coaching supervision, also the number of trained coach supervisors is steadily growing. As an industry we are also benefiting from this, so are our coaching clients, from both an outcomes perspective and from a reputational standing.
Engaging in coaching supervision demonstrates a commitment to developing professional and ethical coaching practice.
What are the benefits of Coaching Supervision?
The term supervision literally means to gain a view from above to see to a more holistic perspective.
I am coining the term Supersight, as I believe this is something coaches need to develop if they want to deliver outstanding coaching outcomes for clients and to care for the instrument of practice, the ‘self’ at the same time.
Supersight is the ability to look above and beyond the self to see where you have strengths and where you are potentially blind or unable to see either at an individual or a systemic level.
Supersight is an orientation towards coaching practice that understands that what is being seen is always never quite the entire picture, rather a series of incomplete data points from which we create connections. We do this to make sense of our own and our client’s behaviour as we believe we experience it.
Supersight is also knowing, understanding and accepting that in many ways we remain blind or unaware to all that is – Supersight means continuing to work in the darkness knowing that light and a path ahead will eventually emerge.
Supersight is a growing comfort with darkness until the light and way ahead emerges.
Supersight is not just a view from above. It is a view from both above and from various vantage points in the landscape.
Supersight is about seeing these disparate perspectives and artfully combining them to create a greater perspective and worldview.
What are some of the outcomes from Coaching Supervision?
We are unable to see around corners, think about how a beautiful city looks and feels from different vantage points around the city. The city you see from one point is a far different city you see from another, even though it is the same place.
From where you take a stance during one point in time influences the view you have and hold. Change the stance and where you stand, and you change the view.
These are some of the insights that develop within supervision. A supervisor, just like a skilled coach focuses on the tension within the subtext of the story, the coach re-tells about the client. This develops new perspectives that enable the coach to be more effective for the client.
Talk to us today how coach supervision can support and grow your coaching practice.