Stepping up to the role of a coaching supervisor can represent a significant professional advancement for an experienced coach.
However, as well as feelings of excitement and possibility, it can also trigger a range of questions and doubts.
Having spoken to many coaches who are exploring this step, I’ve noticed how many of these questions are less about supervision training, and are rather more about the coach themselves.
Self-doubt and anxiety over readiness to be a supervisor is common, as is the fear of whether the training will be “worth it”, and whether they will have time to do it justice.
These types of concerns are personal and subjective, and so there are no clear answers.
However, in a bid to help you head these questions off at the pass, I’ve summarised some of the most common concerns I hear, sharing my own perspective on them as I go.
Ultimately, of course, you will need to come to your own resolution but I hope these thoughts will help you to make that decision.
In no particular order, I have identified 10 common topics.
Let’s take a look at them.
Who am I to be a coaching supervisor?
The thought, “Who am I to be a coaching supervisor?” is a common concern reflecting a certain level of, “impostor syndrome”.
It may originate from doubting one’s worthiness and abilities, and can often feel as if you’re stepping into shoes far too large to fill.
You may worry about how you’ll supervise others when you’re still learning yourself. You might feel as though you’re faking it.
Caught between the awareness of your undeniable expertise and a self-deprecating voice that questions your right to be in a position of authority and guidance, you can’t work out whether you’re really ready to become a coaching supervisor.
Perhaps rather than asking, “Who am I to be a coaching supervisor?”, you could reframe the question to, “Why shouldn’t I be a coaching supervisor?”.
Consider your journey, the expertise you’ve gained, and the unique perspectives you bring to the table. Understand that everyone, no matter their position, is continually learning and growing. Remember, it’s not about being the ‘ultimate’ expert but about facilitating a process of discovery and learning for others.
You could also ask, “Who am I not to be a coaching supervisor?”.
Reflect on the value you can offer from your experiences and knowledge. Think of the positive impact you could have on your supervisees. You have earned your place through hard work, dedication, and an ongoing commitment to your profession.
Your transition to a coaching supervisor is a testament to your growth and a step towards sharing your wisdom and insights with others more widely.
Am I good enough?
Related to impostor syndrome, but perhaps more focused on perceptions of competence and skills is the question, “Am I good enough?
This, it seems to me, often arises from a fear of not matching the perceived high standards of the supervisory role.
As a coach, you may have created an image of the ideal supervisor as someone with absolute expertise and no room for error or lack of learning.
This image can make you underestimate your capabilities and overestimate the requirements of the role, leaving you doubting your competence.
You may forget that even the most seasoned supervisors started from the same place you are at now, uncertain yet eager to grow.
Firstly, it’s essential to address the misconception about the ‘perfect’ supervisor. Supervision, like coaching, is a journey rather than a destination.
Instead of asking “Am I good enough?”, ask “Am I willing to grow?”.
Supervision involves a continuous learning process where every experience, success, or setback is an opportunity to evolve your approach and broaden your perspective.
Secondly, acknowledge that every supervisor brings something unique to their role through their distinct experiences and insights. Consider the question, “What unique skills, experience and perspectives do I bring to this role?”.
Celebrate your individuality and remember that being a great supervisor doesn’t mean knowing it all but facilitating an environment of shared learning, growth, and mutual respect.
How will my colleagues respond?
The thought, “How will my colleagues respond?” is an understandable worry when considering a transition to a supervisory role. It’s natural to wonder how this shift might affect your relationship with your peers. The potential for perceived hierarchy or power imbalance may cause some concern, and you may fear being alienated or judged by your colleagues.
Firstly, understand that these fears largely stem from our imagination.
Remember, everyone is primarily focused on their own professional journey, just like you.
Instead of worrying about, “How will my colleagues respond?”, ask yourself, “Why am I allowing the potential reactions of others to impact my career decisions?”.
Your transition to supervision should be based on your personal and professional growth aspirations, not the potential reactions of others.
Secondly, it’s important to communicate your motivations for moving into supervision to your colleagues.
You can demystify the role and explain that supervision is not about exerting power or authority, but a different set of skills focused on enhancing the quality of coaching.
This might not only clear up any misconceptions but also offer them a different perspective on the role of a supervisor.
Lastly, instead of anticipating a negative response, consider, “How might my transition inspire my colleagues?”.
Your move into supervision might inspire others to explore their potential and consider paths they hadn’t thought of.
Your courage to step up could be the nudge others need to push their boundaries.
Will I be able to get clients for supervision?
When contemplating the transition to a supervisor role, a common concern is “Will I be able to get clients for supervision?”.
This worry often comes from the uncertainty of stepping into a new area and the fear of starting from scratch. You might fear that your coaching clients may not translate into supervision clients, or that your skillset may not attract the clientele you need. And indeed, it is quite true that you will probably be “targeting” a different client group unless you already work with coaches.
Here you could ask yourself, “How did I attract my coaching clients?”.
The process of acquiring clients for supervision will share many similarities with that for coaching. It’s about identifying the needs of potential clients, demonstrating the value you bring to their journey, and building a relationship based on trust and respect.
Remember, you have successfully done this before.
Secondly, you might explore the question, “How can my existing network support my transition?”.
Perhaps some of your current coaching clients or colleagues could be interested in or benefit from supervision. Use your existing network as a springboard to introduce your new services. Even if they don’t need supervision themselves, they might know coaches who do.
Lastly, for those transitioning to internal supervision roles within an organisation, client acquisition is not a concern.
Instead, consider “How can I demonstrate my value as a supervisor within my organisation?”. Focus on enhancing your skills and delivering the best possible service to solidify your position and reputation within your workplace.
How can I be different from every other supervisor?
Another question that can create doubt in the mind of someone considering becoming a coaching supervisor, is, “How can I be different from every other supervisor?”.
This query reveals a desire to stand out and make a unique contribution in your new role, and a fear of being ‘just another’ supervisor.
First, ask yourself, “What unique qualities do I bring to my practice?”.
Every individual brings a unique set of experiences, perspectives, and skills to their work, creating a personal approach that differentiates them from others. Embrace these qualities, as they provide a unique flavour to your supervision style.
The reality is that you ARE different. You just have to figure out which part of your difference is relevant to how you stand out. Is it your manner, your experience, your psychological background, your expertise? Is it a combination?
One thing I can be sure of: you ARE different.
Second, consider, “How can I speak about who I am as a coaching supervisor in my own way?”.
Many new supervisors naturally adopt the language of the profession and use it as a shorthand for the ideas that matter to them. How might you create your own language, your own message, your own descriptions and definitions?
Lastly, it’s essential to remember that your role as a supervisor isn’t about being different for the sake of being different, but about offering the best support and guidance you can.
So rather than focusing solely on what makes you different, ask, “How can I continually improve the value I provide as a supervisor?”. It is by focusing on this value that you will naturally distinguish yourself.
What if I’m no good at supervision?
As with any new undertaking, the fear of inadequacy is common.
You may find yourself questioning, “What if I’m no good at supervision?”.
This is a legitimate concern, given the commitment required to train and the potential impact on your professional trajectory. You might worry that your skills in coaching may not translate effectively into a supervisory role.
Firstly, remember that coaching and supervision, while distinct, are fundamentally built upon the same skills.
Reframe the question as, “How can my coaching skills be leveraged in a supervisory context?”.
Reflect on the strengths you have demonstrated as a coach. Active listening, empathetic understanding, insightful questioning, and feedback provision are all skills that serve both roles.
Secondly, consider your initial journey into coaching.
At the outset, you likely felt unskilled and uncertain – a phase termed conscious incompetence in the model of learning stages. However, with time, practice, and commitment, you moved into conscious competence and possibly eventually unconscious competence, where you now apply your skills almost effortlessly.
Just as you mastered coaching, so too can you master supervision with patience, practice, and the willingness to learn.
Finally, instead of worrying about potentially being no good, ask yourself, “How can I enjoy the journey of learning to become a coaching supervisor?”.
Is it worth it to train as a supervisor?
The question, “Is it worth it to train as a supervisor?” is a practical concern given the commitment of time, effort, finances and resources involved in training.
You might wonder if the additional training is necessary, given that you’re already an experienced coach, or if the benefits of the training justify the investment.
Firstly, understand that coaching supervision, while based on coaching, involves mastering specific skills that relate specifically to supervision.
Supervision goes beyond merely ‘coaching the coach’ to include elements like quality control, ethical guidance, and professional development. Hence, specific training is required to prepare for these unique demands.
A more practical question, then, is “How will the training enhance my capability to effectively supervise other coaches?”.
Secondly, in an industry where the focus on accreditation is increasing, having formal training as a supervisor can significantly enhance your credibility – indeed, it is likely to be a prerequisite given the direction of travel of the professional associations.
Lastly, perhaps you see training as a journey of growth, rather than just a means to an end.
In which case you might consider, “How can this journey enrich me as a professional and as an individual?”.
Embrace the joy of learning, the deepening of your skills, and the broadening of your perspectives that this training offers.
Training to be a supervisor is not just about the destination; it’s also about the richness of the journey.
What am I really going to learn that I don’t already know?
Another question that emerges and relates to the last is, “What am I really going to learn that I don’t already know?”.
You may feel that your extensive experience and knowledge as a coach is sufficient and wonder what additional insights training could possibly offer.
Firstly, it’s important to appreciate the shift in perspective that supervision demands. Most significantly, it introduces a systemic and ethical lens, requiring you to pay attention to the broader coaching system, beyond just the client. You’ll need to consider the dynamics and interrelationships within the system, including the organisation, stakeholders, and wider societal contexts. A useful exploration is , “How can training expand my understanding of the coaching system?”.
Secondly, as a supervisor, you are no longer a facilitator of someone’s thinking as you when coaching.
Instead, you’ll be called upon to use your full range of expertise, experience, and authority. This might include direct feedback and challenge, offering insights and sharing personal experiences where appropriate. It’s a nuanced shift from your role as a coach and one that can significantly impact the effectiveness of your supervision. Ask, “How can training help me balance facilitation with a more directive approach when needed?”.
Lastly, remember that learning is a lifelong process. Even with your rich experience, there’s always more to discover.
Consider, “How can training enrich my practice and open up new areas of knowledge and skills?”. Embrace the possibility of growth that training presents, as it can lead to unexpected and rewarding outcomes.
Can I give it the time that’s needed?
The question, “Can I give it the time that’s needed?” is a common worry for those considering training as a supervisor.
This arises from the understanding that the process will require a significant investment of time for training, practising new skills, and serving clients in a new capacity.
All this is true but it can be surprisingly simple to factor this time across the length of a training course. For instance, our Diploma in Coaching Supervision requires around 160 hours of work including the live training sessions, reflective practice groups, supervision of clients, reading and reflective practice. That’s 20 hours per month, 5 per week or 1 per day with the weekend off!
Seen like this,it can suddenly feel more manageable.
Another way to think about it is, “How can I manage my time effectively to accommodate this new commitment?”. Time management and prioritisation are key skills for any professional, and this could be a great opportunity to reassess your current time commitments and productivity strategies. Reflect on how you’ve successfully managed your time in the past when faced with new challenges or commitments.
Secondly, instead of viewing the time required as a cost, consider it an investment. Ask yourself, “How will this time investment enhance my professional growth and opportunities in the long term?”. Remember that the time you dedicate now lays the foundation for a whole new avenue in your career.
What will the long-term outcomes and benefits be?
Finally, when considering training to become a coaching supervisor, the question, “What will the long-term outcomes and benefits be?” is likely to arise.
This question reflects uncertainty about what the future holds and how becoming a supervisor might impact your career trajectory. You may wonder whether it will become a significant part of your business, a minor add-on, primarily serve your personal and professional growth, or something else.
Firstly, it’s perfectly acceptable not to have a clear-cut vision for how supervision will fit into your professional life right from the start.
Rather than asking about definitive outcomes, you might ask, “Am I open to exploring where this journey takes me?”. Cultivating an attitude of curiosity and openness can be extremely valuable, and the path you ultimately take may surprise you.
Secondly, consider, “What do I hope to gain from this new role, regardless of its impact on my practice?”. Regardless of whether supervision becomes a significant part of your business or a smaller adjunct, it can bring a wealth of benefits, including personal growth, skill enhancement, and the satisfaction of facilitating other coaches’ development.
Finally, while a concrete plan can be useful, it’s not vital when you’re starting. What’s more important is your desire to become a supervisor and your commitment to the process.
So instead of focusing on specific outcomes, ask yourself, “Am I ready to embark on this journey, with all the learning and growth it promises, and see where it leads me?”.
Remember, sometimes the most rewarding paths in life are those we couldn’t have planned for.
Embarking on the journey to becoming a coaching supervisor can indeed feel daunting, fraught with self-doubt and myriad questions.
These concerns are not only normal but are indicative of the deep commitment and care you carry for your profession. They reflect your desire to make a positive impact and your respect for the challenges this transition can entail.
Remember that with every new endeavour comes uncertainty and a period of growth.
Yet, it’s through these experiences that we stretch our abilities, broaden our understanding, and ultimately evolve both professionally and personally. You’ve done it before in your journey to becoming an accomplished coach, and you have what it takes to do it again.
As a coach, you’ve witnessed the transformative power of coaching in the lives of your clients. Now, imagine amplifying that impact by supporting other coaches in their professional journey.
You have an opportunity to contribute to the coaching profession in a whole new way, enhancing its quality, integrity, and impact.
Embrace the journey with openness and curiosity, celebrate the growth it promises, and trust in your ability to navigate it.
Your experience as a coach, your dedication to your craft, and your resilience are all assets that will serve you well as you embark on this exciting new path.
You’ve got this, and the coaching community is ready to support you every step of the way.