A key element of coaching supervision is the exploration of the relationship between coach and coachee, as well as the one taking place inside the coach – the internal conversation often referred to as the ‘Internal Supervisor’.
Coaching Supervision appreciates that while the observable business of coaching is going on – meetings, contracting, outlining coaching programmes and coaching sessions, for example – it is people who do the talking and therefore, who and how we are in the coaching conversation, affects outcomes.
This ‘who and how we are’ piece is mostly unobservable from the outside, but it can also have a significant impact on effectiveness. The reflective practice of coaching supervision helps the coach become aware of relevant strengths and weaknesses and to become stronger and more confident across a range of conversations. Personal awareness and development – indeed all aspects of EQ and SQ – are therefore key ingredients in relating well and in holding successful professional conversations.
Coaching supervision explores and clarifies what goes on in these relationships and conversations and enables coaches to be intelligent about creating effective conversation in every ‘coaching moment’ – conversations with organisations, coaches, sponsors and stakeholders, between coach and coachee and within the coach.
There are several models that can guide these explorations and that are useful in gathering data about what subtly and powerfully influences conversations so the coach – the main instrument of their work – is as ‘clean’ and ‘clear’ as possible and so they can have an appropriate impact in their professional relationships. The exploration of the various relationships and conversations, develops clear thinking and appropriate powerfulness and it ultimately leads to contracts which are clear and well defined. It is the means to understanding systems better, so that there is alignment between coach, coachee and the commissioning organisation.
Developing the ability to think systemically is an important part of the supervisory process. Through coaching supervision, the coach learns more about the interplay between self and the whole system – whatever that system is. The result is the creation of effective, robust working alliances and an increase in the ability to keeping professional boundaries.
Increasingly, coaches are aware they’re not responsible for the whole outcome of a coaching programme and through supervision can gain access to new ways of thinking about the people and the systems that they find themselves in.
A supervisor too, is part of the system and will explore with the coach how they are experiencing that system and also, their relationship with the coach. Supervision does this in order to ensure that energetically, the work is clean and the coach is freed from anything that might get in the way of maximising their skills.
Edna Murdoch September 2011