Congratulations! You have completed your journey to becoming a coaching supervisor and now can’t wait to share your new skills with lots of brilliant coaches.
What could possibly go wrong?
And, in the interests of balance, what could possibly go right?
Read on …
5 Challenges in Developing your Coaching Supervision Practice
The human brain is wired to respond to perceived or real threats more strongly than potential rewards (Rock, 2009).
With this in mind, let’s get the possible challenges examined first, that you, the new coaching supervisor, may encounter.
1. Supervision is new in an unregulated profession
Supervision in coaching is new in a relatively young profession in terms of industry maturity (Porter, 1979).
There is little research and data measuring coaching supervision’s effectiveness and the “enthusiasm for supervision currently outstrips the evidence base” (Hawkins, Turner and Passmore, 2019).
Perhaps, it is perceived as too new and untested and therefore there is mistrust on whether having supervision is essential to being an effective coach.
Indeed, Hawkins and Schwenk’s research (2006) found that there was a lack of clarity in understanding in coaches interviewed about supervision and “well-trained supervisors” (cited in Hawkins et al. 2019).
For coaches starting their career, supervision might be viewed as something more experienced and established practitioners need and perhaps, only those working as Executive or Leadership coaches and not those offering private Life Coaching.
2. Coaches do not know how supervision can help them
If a coach has not experienced the benefits of having coaching supervision, then they may not fully appreciate how having a trusted reflective space and someone to speak to about anything from client and stakeholder challenges, to exploring their own feelings about their coachees and how their coaching and practice is progressing, will assist their efficacy and career.
Rather like coaching itself, it is difficult to explain the tangible benefits of supervision and, in my opinion, trying it out is the best way to achieve this.
A coach can carry on coaching for years without supervision and be none the wiser as to whether supervision would make a positive impact on their work or not.
3. Yet another expense
The coaching profession can be quite self-serving in that it asks a lot of its practitioners in terms of financial investment.
There are the costs of initial training, mentoring towards independent accreditation, the accreditation itself and continued professional development, not to mention the expectation to have a coach(es) yourself.
Factor in all the other expenses involved in running a business (marketing, additional training, utilities etc.) and spending even more money is unlikely to be attractive.
Therefore, supervision can be deemed as yet just another expense which to the uninitiated is vague on its return on investment.
4. Distinguishing from your other work
You, the coach supervisor, may wear several different hats. According to research by the International Coaching Federation, only 7% of coaches receive all their income from coaching work alone (ICF, 2020).
Examples of additional products and services offered include facilitating, training, mentoring, writing, speaking and digital programmes. Multiple streams presented together could dilute the power of your brand and your target audience may struggle to understand exactly where your expertise truly lies.
5. Insufficient time, space or energy
If you enjoy a busy and full coaching practice (and deliver other work as described above AND marketing activities), a challenge to developing your supervision practice may simply be that there is not enough time in the day to focus on it.
You look at your calendar and there is no space to fit anything else in, nor the energy or attentional capacity in your brain for a new area of focus.
5 Opportunities to Develop Your Coaching Supervision Practice
Being a coach myself, of course, I believe that the challenges above can be met and overcome. A positive and growth mindset will go a long way towards overcoming them.
1. Organisations hiring coaches expect evidence
In the last few years, as organisations have become more familiar and knowledgeable of the coaching profession and the needs of their own employees, their expectations have changed.
According to ICF (2020), 55% of managers/leaders now expect their coaches to be credentialled, and from my own supervisees, I’m hearing that coaching supervision is now often a prerequisite of being accepted into a coaching pool.
This suggests that more external coaches will seek out the services of a qualified coaching supervisor to support them in gaining new coaching engagements as more industries adopt similar criteria.
2. Professional body recognition
Although implementation is slow, the European Mentoring and Coaching Council has formulated core competencies for coaching supervision, and it is likely that other international independent bodies will follow suit (EMCC, 2019).
Anticipated to be beneficial to both the coaching and coaching supervision professions, my prediction is that there will be a separate coaching supervision credential launched in the near future or some other method of independent verification.
If the coaching profession becomes regulated, then a standardised industry version of this will become the norm within each country. That the “ICF recommends coaching supervision” on their website is a step in the right direction (Sinclair, 2019).
3. Ongoing coaching profession growth
Dubbed The Great Resignation, life re-evaluations following the pandemic could create an influx of people changing careers (Kaplan, 2021). Over 40% of respondents in a 30,000 global study are “considering quitting or changing professions this year” (Morgan, 2021).
This suggests we could have even more coaches training and entering the game. Therefore, I believe it would be prudent to anticipate that quality and rigour will become even more of a determining factor in future success.
Coaches benefiting from supervision are going to stand out from those without. And of course, with more coaches, there are more opportunities to supervise.
4. Increased confidence
Whether a coach is new or established, a benefit to highlight is the increase in confidence that supervision brings. Having a trusted partner or group to discuss their challenges can enable a coach to ‘normalise’ their experience.
Receiving support and encouragement can help in many ways, with a higher level of personal confidence often being the most striking.
Usually (but not always), a professionally trained coach enjoys increased self-awareness and so will understand the benefits of having greater confidence and how this will positively impact their work.
As we all know confidence can ebb and flow over a period of time, and coaching supervision can serve as useful means of increasing this valuable commodity.
Being aware of the potential challenges and objections you could encounter from the market you intend to supervise will help you to develop a strategy for growing your coaching supervision practice. Before you start I suggest you ask yourself:
Who do you want to supervise?
New or established coaches? Or both. Whilst your supervision skills and interventions may be the same, both markets have different needs and levels of awareness and competence.
Plus, probably varying numbers of coachees and other commitments. Connect your marketing messages to the desires of the specific coach type you are inspired to support and supervise.
What format and when?
One-to-one or group? Or both. Face-to-face or virtual. Or a combination.
As per coaching, knowing your boundaries and what you find most energising will help you communicate in a way that will attract your ideal supervisees.
Some supervisors have dedicated days in their calendar when they schedule coaching supervision and others mix it in with their other work during the week. Experiment to discover what works best for you.
I sincerely hope this brief article goes some way towards helping you with your coaching supervision.
There’s so much more I would like to cover and to discuss any of the issues raised above contact me at www.rachelbamber.com. I’d be happy to help.
European Mentoring and Coaching Council (2019) EMCC Supervision Competence Framework [PDF] UK: EMCC. Available at: https://emccuk.org [Accessed: 08/10/201]
Hawkins, P. Turner, E. and Passmore, J. (2019) The Manifesto for Supervision Henley-on-Thames: Henley Business School
Kaplan, J. (2021) The psychologist who coined the phrase ‘Great Resignation’ reveals how he saw it coming and where he sees it going. ‘Who we are as an employee and as a worker is very central to who we are.’ Insider 02/10/2021. Available at:
https://www.businessinsider.com/why-everyone-is-quitting-great-resignation-psychologist-pandemic-rethink-life-2021-10?r=US&IR=T?utm_source=copy-link&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=topbar [Accessed: 08/10/2021]
International Coaching Federation (2020) ICF 2020 Global Coaching Study [PDF] USA: ICF Available at: https://coachingfederation.org/research/global-coaching-study [Accessed: 08/10/2021]
Morgan, K. (2021) The Great Resignation: How employers drove workers to quit. BBC (01/07/2021) Available at:
Porter, M. (1979) How Competitive Force Shapes Strategy Harvard Business Review (March)
Rock, D. (2009) The Brain at Work New York: HarperBusiness
Sinclair, T. (2019) Coaching Supervision International Coaching Federation. Available at: https://coachingfederation.org/blog/coaching-supervision [Accessed: 08/10/2021]