If you’re reading this, then you’re probably considering whether to train as a coaching supervisor. But perhaps you’re wondering if it’s going to be worth your time, money and effort.
That’s a good question. After all, we’ve all got only so much of these three to spare when it comes to investing in ourselves and often we have to choose between one path and another. Should I invest in my business as a coach, my skills as a coach, or add something new, like coaching supervision?
In this article, I’ll outline the key benefits of coaching supervision training and describe four reasons why you might want to become a coaching supervisor.
In a nutshell, four potential reasons to train as a coaching supervisor are:
- Growing Your Own Coaching Skills, Impact & Knowledge
- Supporting Coaches To Be Their Best And To Make A Greater Impact
- Improving the Coaching Profession and Making a Wider Impact
- Developing Coaching Supervision as an Additional Service
Rocket Fuel For The Self: Growing Your Own Coaching Skills, Impact & Knowledge
Recently, one of our course participants described the coaching supervision course as “rocket fuel” for her coaching skills.
She described how, even as she was learning the new skills for supervision, the really big win for her was in her coaching.
It became, she said, deeper and more impactful and she was better able to reflect on where she could improve.
She noticed how she was looking not just at what she was doing in the coaching but also the quality of the relationship she had with her client, what this meant, and how it was impacting the work. She noticed too that she’d become more aware of the outside forces that were impacting the coaching for good and bad – in other words, the client’s wider system of people, and even the societal forces at work.
It gave her, she described, a sense of seeing the “whole picture” instead of just the momentary conversation. It made me think of that moment in The Matrix where Neo suddenly sees the virtual world as it really is – a stream of code!
In fact, this kind of experience is one we hear frequently from coaches who train as supervisors.
Part of it is down to developing what is often termed “the internal supervisor”. This concept represents the growing capacity to reflect on our work both during and after a session – or as Donald Schön would put it, reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action.
Before supervision training, coaches are often left with thoughts and feelings that remain only partially processed and which leave behind a residue. A client does or says something that feels a little jolting and we’re left to manage the bad taste. Or the client seems to develop a reliance on the coach and the coach doesn’t quite know how to challenge this without damaging the relationship.
Of course, the first step in dealing with this is through supervision itself. And for many coaches, that becomes a sufficient approach to processing their material. Yet, there seems to be an even greater power that emerges from building the internal supervisor through learning supervision.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise since when we are being supervised we tend to focus on processing a particular challenge or issue but when we train as supervisors, we learn the very frameworks that enable it in the first place.
To misquote the classic saying: supervise a coach and you help them with an issue, teach a coach to supervise and they supervise themselves for life!
The variety of frameworks that supervision offers us to consider coaching work becomes part of a mindset for reflecting on one’s practice that creates rapid growth in confidence and competence.
I trained as a coaching supervisor for the first time more than 10 years after starting as a coach and I vividly recall the unexpected sense of clarity, perspective and almost wonder at the new understanding I had for what was happening in my coaching.
In the early days of training as a coaching supervisor, this growth in one’s capacity as a coach is very often the most significant benefit to the coach and one that will serve them for the rest of their coaching career.
Yet clearly, we don’t train as coaching supervisors only to get better at coaching!
And that leads us to the next major benefit.
Supporting Coaches To Be Their Best And To Make A Greater Impact
If the first benefit is about how you as a coach develop, the second puts the focus firmly on making a difference to other coaches.
As coaches mature in their professional journey, we often naturally look to support other coaches. After all, we know what it’s like to be where they are.
Over time, more experienced coaches gain the emotional and practical maturity and knowhow to create deeply generative spaces to consider the very art and science of coaching that they have worked through over the years.
Sometimes these experienced coaches offer supervision to coaches who may be less experienced and who are seeking a kind of “coaching elder” but just as frequently they find themselves working with peers of equal experience but who are looking for someone with whom they can create a positive space for considering their professional challenges and for taking a fresh look at their practice.
There can be many drivers for us as coaches to take up the supervision mantle on behalf of other coaches: a desire to raise standards; a recognition of the need for coaches to release fears and frustrations; the pure love of coaching and the developmental journey. Whatever it is though, it is about supporting that coach to love what they do, to do it as well as they can and to get the best outcomes for their clients.
As a new coaching supervisor, my own personal desire was to help coaches raise their level of competence and impact. I’d felt that, a lot of the time, many coaches were playing safe and leaving clients short of the transformation they were after. But as I supervised more and more coaches, I started to connect to the greater need for coaches to process their self-doubt, their impostor syndrome, their fear of failure. I began to see that, for me as a supervisor, the ultimate aim was to help a coach truly find themselves as a coach. I saw that when a coach found their true sense of self as a coach they stopped holding themselves back, built more authentic relationships and let go of some of the “role-playing” qualities that coaches sometimes engage in to fit their idea of the role.
Coaches are almost always part of a ripple effect. Those we coach change and that change ripples out to their families, colleagues, friends and the wider world. As supervisors, we become a further part of creating ripples and in supporting coaches to do their work as effectively, happily, and authentically as possible we amplify the ripples that coaching creates.
This sense of amplification leads us to the third reason to become a coaching supervisor.
Improving the Coaching Profession and Making a Wider Impact
Having experienced the benefits of personal growth and supporting other coaches, there is often a point in a coaching supervisor’s journey when they become more aware of their role and responsibility to the coaching profession as a whole.
Perhaps it’s a reflection of the nature of supervision in which we consider all the parts of the system that surround a coach and their client but what’s clear is that coaching supervisors become aware that they are, to some extent, guardians of the profession and all who come into contact with it. We start to see that the coach in front of us is a representation of the wider professional system and we care that they uphold the standards.
Where coaching schools are the gateway to the profession, coaching supervisors are often the people who ensure its ongoing integrity and quality through the work they do with their supervisees.
They become a kind of glue for the ethical frameworks, best practices, ongoing development and professional longevity of coaches.
At the moment, this seems to me to be an individual understanding and awareness rather than one that is wholly felt by the profession, or even the accrediting bodies. Yet I sense that supervisors are slowly but surely becoming seen as a core element of the ongoing standards of the profession and the coaches who make up that profession.
The Commercial Dimension: Developing Coaching Supervision as an Additional Service
The fourth and final reason for becoming a coaching supervisor is, of course, the commercial dimension.
For a well-established coach, adding coaching supervision to their services makes a lot of sense both financially and in terms of personal brand.
As a coaching supervisor, there is a natural supervision bounce in reputation that can support the core coaching offering of your practice. This often lends itself to greater numbers of clients and even higher fees due to the perceived elevation of status.
Alongside this supervision bounce for their core coaching service is the new offering of supervision.
Many coaching supervisors are able to make this new supervision service a core part of their work, developing a good income from both one-to-one and group supervision as well as widening the range and enjoyment of the work they do.
In truth, we don’t spend too much time considering the commercial dimension as our experience shows that coaches tend to feel the real benefits are those mentioned above of contribution, belonging, professional status and impact.
Nonetheless, for those taking the commercial considerations into account, there’s no question that coaching supervision is a growing area of work given the ever-tightening conditions that organisations and buyers are setting for coaches to be in supervision.
If you’re considering undertaking coaching supervision training, then I hope that this has given you additional food for thought. Perhaps you will have reasons that sit outside of these four benefits.
Every coaching supervisor has their own story for what led them into the practice. For me, as the founder of a coaching school, it was a desire to improve the effectiveness of coaches and to help them make more impact. For others, it can be that sense of belonging to the wider profession, or their own personal growth.
Whatever it is for you, we’d love to help you explore it further. If you’d like to consider taking your coaching supervision training with the ICCS, just head along our Diploma in Coaching Supervision page and explore the course then apply when you’re ready.