Why should I invest in Coaching Supervision?

As coaches, we know how valuable regular reflection and questioning of our work can be. But why would you bother to invest in supervision? My own experience of Coaching Supervision is that it can be both energising and grounding.

Many coaches work to the point of exhaustion… which isn’t good for anyone (not for you, or for your clients). In an environment of complexity and uncertainty, Coaching Supervision helps you to step back and take a broader view of your coaching practice. To uncover the blind spots and see what you cannot already see in your own work. This deeper level of reflection is what helps you to develop your practice. 

Research shows that coaching supervision benefits:

  • you, as the coach (the person receiving supervision),
  • your coaching clients,
  • the sponsor, where the organisation is paying for coaching, and
  • the Coaching Profession (by developing standards, quality control, and ethical practice).

As a great coach, you are the instrument. And because you’re human you’re not a perfect instrument – none of us are. Coaching Supervision is a space where you can be imperfect. A place where you can ‘service’ the instrument, which is a bit like running an update on your PC! It’s a place where you can explore what you consider to be your mistakes or failures and share any ugly thoughts you might be having in safe environment. 

According to the Association for Coaching, Coaching Supervision is “a formal and protected time for facilitating in-depth reflection for coaches to discuss their work with someone who is experienced as a Coach. Supervision offers a confidential framework within a collaborative working relationship in which the practice, tasks, process and challenges of the coaching work can be explored.” 

As a coach, access to feedback is limited and infrequent. We might collect regular feedback from our clients, but it’s not the same as specialist feedback. 

The coaching profession may still be young, but it has matured to the point that buyers of coaching services need ways to compare and differentiate between coaches. And having regular coaching supervision – individual and group – is a clear indication of quality. 

Definitions of Coaching Supervision:

a place for the coach to reflect on the work they are undertaking, with another more experienced coach. It has the dual purpose of supporting the continued learning and development of the coach, as well as giving a degree of protection to the person being coached. (Bluckert, 2004)

a formal process of professional support which ensures continuing development of the coach and effectiveness of his/her coaching practice through interactive reflection, interpretative evaluation and the sharing of expertise. (Bachkirova, Stevens, & Willis, 2005)

a structured formal process for coaches, with the help of a coaching supervisor, to attend to improving the quality of their coaching, grow their coaching capacity and support themselves and their practice. (Hawkins & Schwenk, 2007)

is the interaction that occurs when a coach periodically brings his or her coaching work experiences to a coaching supervisor in order to engage in reflective dialogue and collaborative learning for the development and benefit of the coach and his or her clients (ICF).

How do I find the ‘right’ Coaching Supervisor?

Finding the ‘right’ supervisor is similar to the way a coachee finds the ‘right’ coach, in that the relationship is critical.

Research suggests there are key capabilities of exceptional coaches – credibility, empathy, holding the professional self, insight, flexibility, working to the business context, personal responsibility and skilful challenging (Dagley, 2010) – and as a coach you should look for these same capabilities in an exceptional coaching supervisor. The Association for Coaching has also published a framework of Coaching Supervision Principles.

Supervisors clearly need knowledge and skills over and above those of a coach. While it may be another decade before there is a rigorous accreditation process for supervisors, you should select a supervisor who holds a credential and has completed a reputable supervision program.

The ICF have suggested the following minimum requirements for coaching supervisors:

  • Be an ICF member which implies that the Coaching Supervisor is familiar with and abides by the ICF Ethics and Standards and
  • Not be under any sanctions from the ICF Independent Review Board for violations of ethical conduct and
  • Be an experienced, mature, preferably credentialed coach – at least 3 years FTE practice and
  • Has continued expanding exposure to and knowledge of coaching approaches beyond their original coach training.

Coaching Supervision for ICF Credential Renewal

The purpose of coaching supervision is to generate coach insights through guided reflective enquiry that will improve the quality of your coaching; and hence expand your coaching capability and confidence.  For this reason, the ICF allow you to count up to 10 hours of Coaching Supervision toward the 40 hours of Continuing Coach Education (CCE) you require for credential renewal.

Further information about Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – including information about what can be counted as Core Competencies and what is counted as Resource Development – is available on the ICF website.

Please note that this information is correct as at August 2019.