What is Coaching Supervision, Anyway?

supervision for coaches

What is the difference between Mentoring, Executive Coaching, Peer Coaching & Coaching Supervision?

Most people understand what coaching and mentoring are and what it means to work with a coach or mentor in a professional partnership. These professions, and others like them, are so-called ‘helping Professions’. As such, you can expect to be guided, supported, motivated, advised, create goals, decide action-steps, kept accountable and challenged to differing degrees in each.

Mentoring focuses on improving core competencies. It often includes observation, recordings, assessments and feedback designed to improve skills. Mentoring is often a guiding role taken by older, more experienced, and perhaps more qualified, colleague to support junior colleagues. There is usually a hierarchy; a directive with feedback, knowledge-sharing and advice around pre-specified best practice.

Executive Coaching is structured around professional, developmental and organizational goals, leadership strategies, efficiency and action steps to take between sessions. Coaches won’t tell clients what to do or give advice. They work with clients to help them find their own answers within the system they work in and support them to stay accountable, challenged, resourced and motivated.

Peer Coaching means jut that; one coach being coached by another coach.

Supervision is the profession supporting these helping-professionals in supporting the people they are working with. Supervision began as a way of supporting therapists in their work, especially in dealing with difficult or ethical cases. Therapists moving into the world of coaching then looked around for the professional support, reflective learning and ethical sounding boards they were used to being regularly available and found nothing.

Coaching supervision developed into a separate, professional discipline for other helping professions, including counselling, mentoring, first response professionals and leadership. In fact, anyone whose profession is to help, guide and support others can benefit from supervision as its core role is to help us to notice, be curious and reframe the lenses we all see through differently. Supervision means paying attention to all that might be going on from the many perspectives beyond our subconscious lenses. We discover insights and learning from noticing small changes in ourselves; our discomforts, doubts and ‘off’ sensations and understanding them as hidden assumptions, lenses, expectations and beliefs, etc. In this way, we learn from what they have to show us about who we are and how this influences our thoughts, habits, relationships and how we ultimately work.

What makes a good coach, mentor or supervisor and how are they different from each other?

Good mentors don’t necessarily have a specific mentorship training or qualification although there are mentor training programs available. A good mentor usually has a senior / higher degree of experience, qualification and skill in the role that they support you with. A mentor coach will often also be a coach trainer or coach credentialing assessor and someone who knows specific, relevant core competencies inside-out. They will observe practice, offer feedback and stretch skills to a higher level.

Executive Coaches will have been through an ICF approved training program and have a qualification and experience to that effect. They will coach the client, but from a standpoint and experience of systems and organizational development. They will ask questions in order to help you discover your own, personalised goals, way forwards and action steps. They will be actively engaged in their own continued personal development and have regular supervision support.

Supervisors are also trained and experienced coaches before becoming coach supervisors. coaching supervision diploma training explores other specific areas not directly part of coaching skills development, yet critical for deeper reflection and learning (e.g., psychology, sociology and their core models, Transactional- and Transpersonal Analysis, neuroscience, deeper inquiry, organizational development, personalities and relational coaching, quantum physics and perspectives, etc.) Supervisors will have a coaching diploma plus a specific supervision diploma. They will have their own, regular supervision, be actively engaged in continued personal development in coaching and supervision and have their position reviewed yearly by governing bodies.

Why is Supervision important, yet misunderstood?

Supervision is an unfortunate word. It has top-down, controlling-boss undertones and can sound as if its intention is to monitor, judge and measure. The best way to get beyond this feeling, and to understand the key importance of regular supervision is to separate the words out into Super-Vision. This is a more accurate way to explain what supervision is all about.

What we are unaware of, controls us.

What we are aware of, is under our control.

When we are in control, we are responsible for the informed choices we make.

Super-vision begins with where you are right now and invites you to look above, behind, below and beyond with curiosity. It is a relationship of equals in a safe, reflective space and time. The learning experience is co-created with the intention of enhancing your view and understanding of yourself as a human-being. We all have blind, deaf and dumb spot, but rarely notice the unconscious effect they have on us, others and how we work. Super-vision is ultimately about being human and being curious around all that being human means for our work and maintaining our own effectiveness, ethics and equilibrium. Super-vision resources you in order to learn from-, and stay emotionally energized by, the demands of your profession.

We all need guides to mentor us, but there’s only so much we can learn from how other people do things. Coaching is a powerful and supportive medium for growth and development, but how many leaders, for example, benefit from adding yet another action step to our already overflowing to-do list? How many coaches and leaders want to admit to another coach or colleague that a situation is leaving them feeling inadequate, stuck or exhausted and they don’t know what else to try?

Super-vision is also designed to maintain and develop professional standards, quality and ethics, but this does not come from being audited and judged, rather from noticing, reframing and learning from situations, especially the sticky, difficult ones. It is a time and place for safe, non-judgmental reflective conversations, somewhere to talk through tough ethical dilemmas, boundary management, confidentiality or contractual issues, difficult relationships or critical situations. It is a real relief to have a safe and supportive space to say out loud the things on your mind knowing that anything said will never be used as ‘evidence against you,’ but rather as informative data to learn and grow our understanding, awareness, control and choice from.

For more information about how to develop a Super-Vision with supervision, get in touch with Gillian and ask for a free, no obligation chat today.

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