What is Leadership Supervision

What makes Leadership Supervision with a trusted and qualified practitioner so valuable?

‘Change happens in the crucible of relationship’ – Bill Critchley.

Leadership Supervision is designed to be collaborative, a conversation where one professional is fully present to the other. In this ‘crucible’, leaders are supported in all aspects of their work by an external unbiased practitioner.

Key elements in adult learning theory emphasize respect for the learner and the collaborative nature of the conversation. Both are essential in the reflective practice of leadership supervision. We are here to walk with leaders and enable them to enhance their leadership skills, emotional and social intelligence and key leadership behaviours.

Trained leadership supervisors are aware of how important it is to create a safe and trusting working alliance. Heart-to-heart conversation and mindfulness are key elements in successful leadership supervision.

Developmental practice

Above anything else, Leadership Supervision is a developmental practice. It is a generative conversation of challenge, support, insight and deep understanding. A supervisor may be working with a leader over a period of 8 months to a year and it is a great responsibility to ensure that not only does the leader develop in confidence and competence, but that they are fully resourced in a number of ways: increasing self-awareness, viewing things from new perspectives, handling critical conversations in their work, becoming more skillful at ‘managing up’ and so on.

The supervisor’s own personal development is an important aspect of supporting leadership reflection and growth. The critical relational work requires that leadership supervisors are self-aware, flexible, confident – capable of standing in the heat of the workplace! When supporting and challenging leaders we need to be both open and robust! This kind of leadership reflection provides a conversation in which leaders can learn about themselves and others, in a safe and trusted environment. Psychology, energy work, and neuroscience all contribute to supervisory insight and support in this context. A leader who has supervision with a properly qualified supervisor skilled in developing the leader’s reflective powers and emotional intelligence will quickly become much more aware personally and interpersonally – this capacity makes the difference between good and great leaders. It also supports the leader to remain authentic and maintain a high standard in their work.

Ideally, leadership supervisors create a safe and mindful space for leaders and nurture a genuine quality of present moment attention. This then becomes a path to co-create a deep thinking space for the leader to reflect and grow. Research proves that mindfulness boosts creativity, happiness, and well-being. It can also increase levels of attention and empathy for both supervisor and leaders seeking to reach their full potential.

Leadership supervisors are trained to sense and tap into another person’s energy field. At the same time being acutely aware of our own patterns of thought and energy flow and develop a greater depth of awareness. This thoughtful space created in professional reflective supervision allows us to put aside assumptions and intrusions to focus entirely on the leader and their requirements. It is in this space that the leader is able to safely explore deeper hidden, often unhelpful patterns and gain powerful insights. New knowledge emerges and leaders gains confidence and increased self-awareness. This is the kind of leadership supervision relationship that underpins the Full Spectrum Model of supervision. www.fullspectrumsupervision.com

Leaders as supervisors

As a leader, you may also be supervising many different people around the globe in a variety of situations. If as leaders you are aware of how you form your own world view and operate your own filters, you can more easily accept the differences of those you lead. It is important for leaders to, on occasion, to put aside (not abandon!) their own view of the world. Through research, we understand that leaders naturally get on well with those who share their own attitudes and values. It is, therefore, vital in our fast-paced global environment to understand and be open minded when individuals come to meetings and 1-2-1 sessions with beliefs, values, and attitudes which are vastly different. Your own beliefs and strong views as a leader may slip though in an unguarded moment and prevent you from hearing the needs of your direct reports.

Without this understanding and self-awareness, your meetings and 1-2-1 sessions will not achieve the desired outcome. Both temperament and attitudes can be different but not necessarily right or wrong. Being flexible in approach and building your own self-awareness during executive reflection will ensure misunderstandings are kept to a minimum.

As a leader, you may also find your teams have the skills to do the job but the motivation may be absent. They may be keen to step up but lack the confidence in themselves to be effective. It is important to build on the strengths of your staff and accept that there will be times when limiting beliefs and learned behaviours can and should be challenged. However, be mindful that this may not always be appropriate. Listening to your own internal supervisor, developed in your own leadership reflective practice, will give you a greater degree of awareness. This knowledge will enable you to use non-judgemental reflection and insightful questioning to foster a collaborative and supportive relationship with your teams.

Some of the top characteristics for effective leadership supervisors in the workplace are:

They are able to:

  • Recognise, express and cope with feelings and emotions of self and others
  • Deal effectively with the demands and pressures of the supervisor’s/leader’s role
  • React proactively by building relationships and leading by example
  • Focus on understanding others before seeking to be understood
  • Pose incisive questions and challenge when deemed necessary
  • Allow self and others time and space for reflective practice
  • Support others to set and achieve goals that benefit both the team and the individual
  • Motivate self and encourage others to greater achievement
  • Maintain a positive mindset in times of change and in challenging situations
  • To be comfortable in a place of not knowing and encourage emergent knowledge

Daniel Goleman’s book on emotional intelligence states that EI is one of the most important factors when it comes to getting people to “do their jobs more effectively” (Goleman 1995)

This article was written by Jackie Arnold from Coaching Supervision Academy