One of the most frequent questions we get asked by someone looking to train with us is: “Am I ready to become a coaching supervisor?”
Of course, the question is one that we can’t answer definitively because so much depends on the person’s own readiness and temperament but to help you decide for yourself we’ve put together a list of the core criteria to check if you’re ready.
Seven always seems to be the magical number for lists and so here are seven points to check whether you might indeed be ready to become a coaching supervisor.
Check them off and see how many apply to you!
Are you a qualified coach?
The first one is pretty self-explanatory but actually, it’s surprising the number of people who are curious about becoming a coaching supervisor who aren’t yet qualified as coaches.
This is a must!
To be a coaching supervisor, you will have qualifed as a coach on a recognised coach training programme.
Whilst we don’t deny that a useful conversation can be had by anyone who is curious and interested in a coach’s work with their clients, this could hardly constitute supervision.
The first thing any coach would expect of a supervisor is that they are qualified and have excellent knowledge and skills in coaching.
They would expect you to understand the dilemmas of coaching, to have experience working with different issues, to know theory and practice and to be able to advise, guide and ask the right questions.
Are you qualified as a coach from an accredited training programme?
OK, so that’s a pretty obvious one and if you tick this then, great you’re in the right place!
Do you have the right level of coaching experience?
So you’re qualified as a coach but do you have the requisite level of experience?
This is a much trickier question than it might first appear.
We suggest that a coach should have around 500 hours (ICF PCC and above) of experience before looking to become a coaching supervisor but it’s not always so clear-cut.
For example, an experienced psychotherapist who later trains as a coach might be ready to become a coaching supervisor sooner based on the many hours of related work in their original field. Indeed, there are many such talking professions that would shortcut a coach’s need for coach-specific experience.
As a supervision school, we treat this question on a case-by-case basis with the underlying assumption that around 500 hours is a good guideline.
The bigger question is whether you feel you have the experience to be both credible and skilled as a coaching supervisor.
Do you feel you have the experience and know-how to be a coaching supervisor?
Do you have a context to do the coaching supervision work?
The next question concerns where and with whom you’ll do the coaching supervision.
We find that those who get the most from our training have a context to do the work.
Perhaps you are part of an organisation with a coaching function, or you know coaches who you tend to support in different ways.
Of course, just as when you trained to become a coach you had to find clients to work with, so you may find coaches to supervise using all the same kinds of approaches to getting clients that worked for you then: referrals, directories, networking and so on.
The key though is knowing how you’re going to apply the skills so that you can build your confidence through application and experience.
Coming into the coaching supervision training with a sense of where you’re going to do the work is a great place to be in.
So, do you know who would like to supervise? Do you have a sense of the context and work you would like to do?
Do you have the time to study and to do the supervision practice?
The next question is whether you have time to become a coaching supervisor.
Just like becoming a coach, training as a coaching supervisor takes study, practice, reading and reflection.
To be ready to become a coaching supervisor you must have time to dedicate to it.
As an example, if you were to train as a coaching supervisor with ICCS, you would embark on a course that lasts around 8 months, and you’d commit time to complete 25 hours of supervision outside of the training.
We estimate a minimum of 200 hours of study and practice over the 8 months and, of course, in reality, you’ll almost certainly want to do more as you fall in love with it!
Do you have the time to dedicate to it?
Do you have a love of coaching and helping coaches?
Here’s an interesting one!
Becoming a coaching supervisor is not something you do because you have to – you do it because you choose to!
And it makes sense to choose what you love.
Over time, some coaches become disaffected with the profession, others naturally move on to other pursuits or careers.
Supervision is not just the next step on a rung. It’s a reflection of someone’s love of coaching.
To become a coaching supervisor, you have to love coaching and to want to support coaches, the coaching profession, and the clients and organisations that engage with coaching.
And to become a coaching supervisor is to love continuous learning and mastery of coaching, to become fascinated by what coaches struggle with and aspire to, to connect to the aims and ethics of the profession, and to truly embrace the journey of becoming a coaching role model.
All the coaches who join ICCS’s programme love coaching and love working with coaches.
Do you love coaching, and supporting coaches?
Are you open to new ways of working?
A fascinating part of the journey we you become a coaching supervisor is loosening up one’s attachment to certain coaching principles and practices.
Whilst coaching supervision is about coaching and whilst it is extremely related in its relational approach, it is also different.
Coaches typically find the wider scope of behaviours and interventions in coaching supervision liberating and joyful. They often feel set free to be more expressive.
Only occasionally do we come across a coach who is so firmly wedded to the specific practices of coaching that they struggle to fully step into the role of coaching supervisor.
One example of this is the wider, systemic view the supervisor has across the whole coaching field. Whilst a coach’s main concern is their client, a coaching supervisor is interested in and concerned for their supervisee, the supervisee’s client, the system sponsoring the coaching and the coaching profession as a whole.
This might necessitate them to be more challenging of a coach who is demonstrating potentially unethical practices (whether knowingly or not) or to raise concerns about the outcomes of a coaching engagement. All done with love and collaboration but nonetheless, this can feel different from the more classically person-centred approach that is coaching.
Are you open to widening the ways in which you work? Are you ready to spread your wings?
Are you ready to have a new level of authority and presence?
Finally, and related to the last point, are the twin themes of authority and presence.
This is something that Peter Hawkins writes extensively about in the classic work, “Supervision in the Helping Professions”.
Perhaps more than most disciplines, humanistic forms of coaching have taken a path of an egalitarian, collaborative relationship in which the coach’s “stuff” is set aside and their personality somewhat subdued. (Or, at least, in theory!)
As a coaching supervisor, however, the qualities of presence and authority are vital ingredients. A coach in supervision wants to feel held and supported, though not told or diminished. This calls for the subtle and judicious use of authority and presence.
We’ve found that this step can feel like a quantum leap for some coaches when they become a supervisor as many have been accustomed to reducing their presence and authority in order that the client assumes more of both.
We know this is a journey and whilst some coaches seamlessly move towards this position of authority and presence, others can take several months (even years) to truly trust themselves as a supervisor who can inhabit this space with these twin qualities.
Do you feel ready to use your experience, knowledge and wisdom with authority and presence?
There may be other questions that you have around your readiness to become a coaching supervisor, but for us at the ICCS, we’ve found that these seven are the most vital points to check in on for yourself.
Some are simple and straightforward – such as whether you are a qualified coach. Others are more complex, subjective and intuitive.
The starting point, though, is you.
How do you feel about your readiness?
Do you find yourself answering yes to these questions?
If so, maybe it’s time to consider training as a coaching supervisor. If that sounds like you then we’d love to chat!
Why not check out our Diploma in Coaching Supervision and if it looks a good fit, apply to join us or book a conversation with us.