For coaches: why having coaching supervision is important

I know that many readers of this blog are coaches so on rare occasions I do write specifically to them – this is one of those times. Full disclosure: I have embarked on a rigorous program to be certified as a coaching supervisor, which was (and still is) a surprise to me, as you’ll soon read. I felt this was needed because there is a lot of skepticism about coaching supervision that I felt too – until I learned more.

A few years ago, I was outraged to learn that the International Coach Federation (ICF) was exploring coaching supervision as “one more thing” (my words) that coaches would need to embark on in order to either continue their credential or obtain one. I thought the rigor, time, practice, and expense that goes into obtaining and keeping an ICF credential was enough.

I was wrong.

Having attended a couple of conference workshops to learn about supervision, I became curious. I decided to look into it further. Shortly thereafter, I signed up for a rigorous training program that will provide me with a credential in coaching supervision.

That’s what sometimes happens when we are too rigid in our thinking; being curious and open to learning can shake loose some understanding. So I became interested in hiring a supervisor. I also sensed that deeper learning on how to impact my coaching clients more was something I wanted. I had honestly spent thousands of dollars on training programs over the years that were meant to help me get better as a coach. They just didn’t do the trick for me – but working with a supervisor has.

And…. I also decided to become a coaching supervisor. Part of the coaching supervision training program I’m in includes LOTS of one-on-one experience being supervised by someone. It’s been re-invigorating to see how my thinking has stretched and my ethical awareness expanded. My ability to help the leaders I work with through being supervised has increased. I simultaneously feel more confident in my work coaching leaders and more mindful moment by moment of what is happening as I coach. And I’ve been an executive coach for 15 years! The old dog, new tricks saying comes to mind here.

I bring case studies to my supervisor in a highly confidential space, with all of the doubts I have about my effectiveness to make a difference in a client’s work and life. I walk out with new ideas and ways of working with executives that will make a difference for them, their sponsors and organizations.

What is coaching supervision?

Coaching supervision (which may be more precisely called “Coaching Super Vision”) is a confidential reflective practice focused on the growth and development of the coach being supervised. It’s a way for a coach to uncover their blind spots and celebrate their strengths with an experienced guide who will help them to think in a way that gets them out of their head and into their heart.

It’s for coaches who work independently and are contracted by the people and the organizations that pay them as well as for internal coaches who are employees of the companies they work in. It’s for any coach who earnestly wants to be reflective and learn more about what they do well and where they can improve.

Coaching supervision isn’t coaching and it isn’t mentor coaching, but it is an essential practice that helps coaches to become more confident in the work they do. Their clients, and the organizations they serve benefit. It isn’t required to obtain or maintain a credential (although now I’m now thinking that maybe it should be).  Coaches, you encourage your clients to make an impact. Why wouldn’t you be taking a step in your development to help you “show the way” by working with a coaching supervisor?

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.