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OUR BOOK CLUB – we want to tell you a story…..

Ros Starkey, Clare Neal and Rosalind Maxwell- Harrison met on the CSA 2010 supervision course and fellow coach, Sue Stafford, a 2009 CSA graduate, joined OUR BOOK CLUB in 2011. Together, we have continued meeting “virtually” on a regular basis for over 4 years. To find out why, read our stories.

Clare’s story

During the CSA course I realised there was a huge amount of reading to be done! As I had been in a ‘normal’ Book Club, I had the idea of inviting others on the course to join me in forming a ‘CSA Book Club’ to support and motivate each other through the required reading material for the course.  As time went on I realised other benefits. Running any business can, at times, feel quite lonely – especially in the coaching world where many of us mainly work alone. OUR BOOK CLUB offers us a powerful chance to connect and have relationships with fellow supervisors and coaches ensuring we keep at the forefront of our profession.  OUR BOOK CLUB has not only outlived the Diploma course but has flourished and has become something meaningful beyond all expectations. I am really proud of this.

Ros’s story

I jumped at the chance to be part of OUR BOOK CLUB, seeing it as a way to work more closely with colleagues I respected and knew I could learn from as well as offering me a disciplined way to read all the material on the book list – in the Myers world I am a P. As an active member of book groups both in the UK and the US I was also aware of just how varied peoples thoughts, reactions and insights can be to the content we each read and how rich the conversations can be.

OUR BOOK CLUB has evolved over the years, we now read not only books but articles and also at times share techniques.  It continues in part because each of us is required to complete a number of development hours to maintain our membership with CSA, but more importantly because it provides an opportunity for us all to continue to develop our craft of coaching and super vision.

By each of us taking a turn to suggest the reading material I have read a much more diverse range of material than I might otherwise have done. Through our decision to nominate the promoter of the reading material as the facilitator, I have also developed my telephone facilitation skills and learned from being facilitated by others.

4 years on I am delighted that we are all still as committed to OUR BOOK CLUB and look forward to our sessions.

Sue’s story

I find immense value in exploring others interpretation of the written word. As someone who values difference greatly, it’s truly amazing sometimes to wonder if you have all been reading the same book given the different ideas and thoughts collected by the others! It has allowed me to keep reconnecting with the others and develop close regular relationships with them. My learning style is activist/pragmatist so this is another reflective discipline which just works so well. I have read books which I would not even otherwise have considered. We also have an opportunity to provide an update/feedback on conferences/ other relevant supervisor-oriented inputs.

Openness and honesty in our views and thoughts is an important aspect of why the Book Club works. Not necessarily championing our own choice – just working with our joint curiosity to see what further triggers our discussion brings.  Listening without video means continuing to cultivate deep listening skills.

Rosalind’s story

I love reading, but sometimes lose my sense of humour when faced with “Reading Lists” and Academic tomes. When Clare first suggested the idea of a book club, it suddenly took a weight off my shoulders.  The idea of sharing the learning really appealed to me. Solitary reading is the part of my CPD that I find most difficult.  I like trying things out and watching and listening to how others do it.  Getting real time feedback on the insights, assumptions and preferences that I show when I share my own thoughts on a book or chapter is invaluable – particularly when the feedback and challenge comes from expert and trusted co-professionals.

Over time we have become more adventurous, actively seeking out material (books, articles, blogs etc.) to share and discuss.  Whoever suggests material and facilitates, ensures that the purpose of our lively discussions returns to our coaching and supervision practice.  Four years down the line, I can honestly say that I have read more coaching and supervision books articles and blogs, in greater depth than I would have if left to my own devices . Importantly, I have been supported in reading material that I would otherwise have avoided because the approach did not appeal to me.

Choosing the material for discussion is one of the most exciting parts of book club membership.  I keep a notebook of things that interest me and then, when it is my turn, it’s like picking my favourite chocolate from the box.   I am SO glad that Clare took the initiative and got us together.

Do YOU want to try a Book Club?

We hope you have enjoyed reading our stories about why we started OUR BOOK CLUB, how it has evolved, why it continues and what benefits to ourselves and our clients it brings, you may feel inspired to start your own.  Here are our Top Tips:

  • Agree the Terms of Engagement.
    • If you are going to do it, consider it to be “work time” and arrange to meet during the working day rather than fitting it in during an evening or weekend.
    • The four of us have significantly different practices, work in different sectors, and have an enormous collective experience.  Our relationship is never competitive and never judgemental.  We are all “here” to learn.
    • Having shared professional values gives us a wonderful starting point.  Our professional styles are different, but our objective of being active in the development of ourselves and others is the same.
    • Being responsible to our colleagues gives us the energy to put real effort into the book club.  I know that they are doing the same for me!
    • Agree the numbers in the group.  We would suggest 4 or 5 as a maximum. Having 4 members in our group means that if only 3 are available, we can have a meaningful discussion (only happened once in four years!)
    • Find a cheap and easy and accessible way to connect.  We use Voice Skype which brings no additional cost.
    • Be flexible with work schedules and time zones.  At one period Ros was living in the USA, but we were easily able to adjust our timings to suit everyone.
    • Each person belongs to their own networks and communities which brings diversity to the Club.
    • Keep the Book Club topical.  Our next choice will be the brand new publication “Full Spectrum Supervision”!

Please feel free to contact any of us for support and to let us know how you are getting on.  Reading has never been so much fun!

Ros Starkey ros.starkey@btinternet.com lives in the Surrey area and has been coaching for 13 years and supervising for 3. She specialises in transition coaching for those who have reached a crossroads in their career, business or personal lives, and are now seeking guidance on how to move forward.  Sue Stafford Sue.Stafford@coach2succeed.co.uk lives in Cambridge and works as a coach and supervisor throughout the UK.  Clare Neal Clare@nealconsultancy.com is based in Stamford in the East Midlands and has run her coaching business for 16 years. She works with clients from both the Public and Private sectors as a coach, facilitator, team builder and supervisor.  Rosalind Maxwell-Harrison Rosalind@Firstimpact.org.uklives in Nottingham and works as an Executive and Leadership Coach and Supervisor, mainly in the Public Sector.

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