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Top tags: balance  contentment  life  Supervision  wellbeing  wheel of life  work 

Can we know too much as coaches?

Posted By Alison Dixon (Griffiths), Success Coaching & Development Ltd, 10 September 2017
Updated: 21 August 2017

I’ve been holding this question for some time and explored it with other coaches. At its heart, is whether we do our best coaching when we are less informed?

Considering how we are as coaches with expanding knowledge is important.

When I began as a qualified professional I understood the process, principles and ethics of coaching. With continued CPD, practice and supervision I coached in more complex organisational situations and better managed, lead myself as a coach. I readily applied or created psychological models and principles. However, I did not always relate the session to scientific theory or relevant research in the way I can do now. Coaching simply worked and I was absolutely present, congruent (and raw!)

CPD is essential in reaching a level of mastery and as a champion of life-long learning I’m not suggesting stopping. However, in observing other coaches and from my own experience, I wonder, can we know too much? Does our style, skill or indeed attitude automatically change for the better with increased knowledge? There are three common situations that have fuelled my curiosity:-

1. Client consultations - We may be clear on a solution. However, does our motivation remain as high when new techniques are disregarded for the tried and tested?

2. One-to-one coaching sessions – others tell me that their energy can be expended on “trying to remember” or selecting the best model from an expanding knowledge bank.

3. Group Coaching – can we so easily suspend judgement when coachees are not ready for proven methods?

It’s difficult to ‘unknow’ what we know. In all three examples, knowledge has the capacity to challenge neutrality, attention and unbiased expectations of our self and others – some of the basic skills of coaching.

Knowledge therefore creates an interesting paradox. Is what I’ve learnt informing a session, supporting the client or taking something away from it, them or me?

OK – a little self-coaching would help:-

• How can I be in meetings with this knowledge whilst holding onto the qualities of a novice?

• How can I demonstrate the art and science of coaching and be a coach not a mentor, a consultant not a guru, a facilitator not a trainer?

• In what way will mastery best serve the client, community and me in the meaning of coaching? My responses come from a meta-awareness of knowledge. By • establishing more consciously the driver and purpose behind each development activity before embarking on it

• remaining present, accepting and suspending my knowing at a given moment

• contracting with my inner coach as novice and expert so that I can sit in enquiry whilst each receives what I have learnt at the right time I can better balance professional and social expectations and personal desire whilst staying in service of clients, the coaching community and myself.

Ultimately, we can lead ourselves from a more mindful position of knowledge with wisdom and hold onto Socrate’s wise words regardless of how much we know:

“I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.”


Alison is a Master Accredited Executive Coach and a founder member of the AC who has been professionally coaching individuals and teams for almost 15 years. She is the creator of walnut™ - leading wisely - the self-coaching resource designed for the executive. Website: LinkedIn: Email: or

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Achieving Work Life Balance - 6 ideas to consider

Posted By Margaret Walsh, Margaret Walsh Consulting Ltd, 25 July 2017

Achieving Work Life Balance (WLB) – six ideas to improve your WLB Who doesn’t want to achieve better balance in their life? Yet, this requires conscious thought and effort on our part so that we place our attention on those aspects of our lives that matter most to us. I know that the ‘Wheel of Life’, is a helpful tool to use in coaching as it provides clients with useful feedback points and can jolt them into action to focus on those parts of our lives where they want to spend more time.

Wheel of Life As a short reminder, to complete the wheel of life you simply allocate a score (from 0-10) to the different headings and see your distribution and where there are low scores. I particularly like the fact that this tool also allows a client to place a focus on the future and consider the changes he/she might make to the different areas and thus set goals to make those changes.

I have set out below six ideas to consider for achieving balance. These ideas emerge both my studies and my work with coaching clients and from good practice in this field:

1. Be consciously aware of where you spend your time and judge whether you are happy with this allocation. Using the Wheel of Life may be a useful starting point in this respect, and enables you to look at where you are and where you would like to be with your WLB and allows you to keep both under review.

2. Consider the ‘doing’ nature of balance, and the need to adjust to stay in balance. One useful visual of constant readjustment, that can appear effortless, is a red kite (or similar large bird), in flight. To soar in this way, a red kite needs to ‘read’ the thermals and adjust.

3. Know your patterns and where you spend your time automatically. It may be that you have a message from childhood that you constantly try to live up to of ‘work harder and provide for others’. This is important, but so is finding joy in family times and having space to think and reflect, as well as simply relaxing.

4. Take control of how you allocate your time. Put structure into your calendar that allocates balance for you.

5. Review and reflect regularly on whether you are happy with your life and the balance within it. This requires insight and self-awareness into what is important for you both now and into the future. We are constantly changing (through ageing and hopefully growing in wisdom) and it makes sense that we reflect that in the way we live our lives.

6. Not wanting to sound too fatalistic, but for each of us life will come to an end. How we spend our time shapes who we are and it pays for us to consider whether we are content with who we are now in the world and where we spend our time.

Margaret Walsh is a registered member of the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy, a Member of the Association of Coaching and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development. She works with individuals and groups using a mixture of coaching and psychotherapy to help deepen self-awareness from which to bring about change. She works face-to-face as well as by Skype and telephone and can be contacted on Margaret also maintain a regular blog:

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Tags:  balance  contentment  life  wellbeing  wheel of life  work 

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Seven reasons Group Supervision could be a 'team Sport'?!

Posted By Michelle Lucas, 01 July 2017

Do you have regular supervision arrangements, or do you tend to operate on an “as needed” basis? I’ve noticed that some coaches say that they don’t always have something pressing to bring to supervision. My sense is that perhaps they see supervision as something they do “when they get stuck”. However, in reality I think supervision – especially Group Supervision can be much more useful than just getting “unstuck”! Here are 7 reasons why I see reflecting on your work (the good bits as well as the tricky bits) in group supervision, as a team activity 

  1. Connecting as a community: Coaching can be a lonely profession. Regularly meeting with a group of fellow coaches provides reassurance when you discover that your personal coaching challenges are shared by others.
  2. Keeping your coaching muscle “toned”: When your coaching activity reduces it is easy to lose confidence about your work and to lose a sense of connection with coaching more generally.  Hearing about other’s work may re-invigorate your energy for coaching, and prompt you to seek out more opportunities for coaching yourself.
  3. Jogging your memory:  Listening and contributing to other people’s “cases” often gets you thinking more deeply about your own work.  Whilst you might arrive at the group feeling as though “I’ve got nothing to bring” it’s common for something you’d almost forgotten about to be prompted by the group and to have a rich and lively discussion about it.
  4. Creating collective intelligence: Coaching is complex!  Rarely is there one definitive “right” question or interpretation or approach.  Nowhere is this clearer than in group supervision.  You can almost guarantee that everyone will see something different in the client case presented, and everyone will have their own sense of what they would “do”.  Clearly each coach will want to develop their own authentic response – however, together we can generate a diversity of ideas that individually would have escaped us.
  5. Deepening your repertoire by osmosis:  For the most part supervision groups will include coaches from a variety of contexts and experience.  Some of the situations that your peers will bring for exploration you may not have come across before.  This can be fantastic preparation for your own practice.  No two situations are ever the same, but by participating in the supervision discussion, you will be better prepared when something similar does occur.
  6. Keeping humble: As we deepen our experience as coaches we become increasingly comfortable about how we work with a range of clients and topics.  However, it’s entirely possible to get “a bit too comfortable” and to use our go-to responses when faced with what appears to be a familiar situation.  When listening to other people’s work or sharing our own, it’s fascinating what our peers see that we don’t.
  7. Being a resource for others: When we participate in group supervision we will naturally be thinking about the personal benefit.  However, even if there is nothing that we want for ourselves we have the chance to take a more altruistic stance. When group members bring a topic to the group they are depending on us, as colleagues to help them think things through, to share experiences and to “be there” to provide affirmation, challenge or support. It’s this combination of personal benefit and benevolence to others that gives the sense of “team” to a group.

So that’s why I think group supervision is a “team sport”.  It may well be that you feel you have nothing to bring.  However if the group works as a team then whether or not you feel you have something “pressing” is not really the point!  The point is that you are there for your colleagues, to help them think, to share your experiences in service of them resolving their challenges and to continue to deepen your connection with the group and the coaching community at large. 

I’m not entirely sure what kind of team sport group supervision would be – maybe cricket when 9 of 11 people in a team are not on the field of play? What kind of sports team would be a good metaphor for your group supervision experiences? And importantly, what kind of supervision team player do you want to be?


Michelle Lucas

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Supervision: When What's Happening Here Mirrors What Happens There

Posted By Michelle Lucas, 01 July 2017

The next blog in this series examines eye 5 of the Seven-Eyed Model:  The relationship between Supervisor and coach. 

7 eyed model

This fifth eye suggests that the relationship between the supervisor and supervisee can hold useful information regarding what was happening in the original coaching session. Essentially, the supervisor can use the dynamics of their relationship in “the here and now” to gain clues about what might be happening in the coach:client relationship.  This is what is known as the parallel process.  I’ve noticed that the longer I work with a supervisee, the stronger my sense is of our own unique supervision relationship dynamic. And as can be seen from this story, it can be really helpful for the coaching client too. 

I was supervising a coach who was relatively new to the world of coaching – she was a creative writer before. In our previous sessions I had been struck by how articulate she was and how mature her thinking was regarding her clients. We had only ever worked by phone, however, I felt I knew her quite well.  She brought a client case where she felt stuck.  We talked through what she had tried so far and what was happening – this all seemed very appropriate and yet she didn’t feel like it was working.  When I asked her to explore her “stuckness” she really struggled – she was hesitant and clunky.  I noticed that I was beginning to feel stuck too – I moved my attention to what was going on between us.  When I thought about my supervisee it felt as though she wasn’t telling me the whole story. I couldn’t seem to “join the dots” from what she was saying. Although I couldn’t see her, I imagined that if she had been in the room with me, she would be averting her eyes from my gaze.  This felt like a different person to the one I was used to supervising, for that reason, I wondered if a parallel process was in play.  I shared this with her and explained that I felt I wasn’t hearing the whole story and asked if that might be how she felt when she was working the client.  It was an “OMG” moment – yes she said, it really felt like her client was “holding out” on her.  Through further discussion, she remembered a passing “niggle” early on in their coaching relationship. Something said about a prior relationship that the coach had noticed, not been able to make sense of and which had passed by.  For some reason she started to connect the two things. A penny seemed to drop, and the coach said… “perhaps we’re not having the right conversation …. If I get stuck again, I’ll ask her that question … something tells me it’s all tied up with her ability to trust”.

So how do I know as the supervisor, that what I am experiencing is a parallel process?!  Well of course I don’t always. A fundamental requirement for a supervisor is to have a high level of self-awareness so that they can identify any personal interference.  I shall say more about this in my next blog about Eye 6. However, when I think about an established supervisor: supervisee relationship, I have a general sense of the coach’s coaching model, their typical style, their repertoire of techniques and their development areas.  I also have a strong sense of “how” they are when we work together.  As  a supervisor therefore, I am always looking out for any changes in this dynamic which might hold clues about something that is “just beyond” the coach’s current awareness.  Helpfully, my separateness from the actual coaching situation that gives me a wider perspective.  Whilst the parallel process can be a powerful phenomenon, as the supervisor, when it occurs I am less “in the grip” of it than the coach is. Together we can think through how our current experience relates to the client experience, gradually bringing something that was just beyond reach to come into view. 

When have you experienced of this kind of thing with your supervisor?    When I’m training coaches they often ask “how does this happen”? And I have yet to find an eloquent answer!  I have suggested that the supervisor has developed some kind of systemic empathy. How would you explain and describe what happens when you experience the parallel process?  I’ll be intrigued to hear your thoughts.


Michelle Lucas


Image source: Azarius: Infinity (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Tags:  Supervision 

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Where could that have come from?

Posted By Jacqueline Ann Surin, 01 July 2017

Last year, I was commissioned to provide four coaching sessions to employees of a Kuala Lumpur-based company. Before the first session, one of the employees was rather anxious. He was early for his appointment and he asked me rather nervously what to expect. This was when I inadvertently discovered the power of asking about the source of a client’s emotional state. 

I’d learnt a specific, ‘Clean’ question to help me with that and this was my opportunity to put it to good use. Clean questions are simple, neutral and follow an exact word sequence. This particular question is:

“And where could that [coachee’s words] have come from?”

Developed by the late psychologist David Grove, Clean questions reflect back only the coachee’s words, inviting them to notice their inner experience more deeply. Often the coachee is then able to generate new insights and perspectives about their own stuff, resulting in clearer outcomes and solutions.

I joked that coaching wasn’t like sitting for a Malaysian public exam where there were right and wrong answers. Then I reassured him that with Clean coaching, he would determine what direction to go in. And okay, this was his first time being coached. So, his anxiety was perhaps understandable.

But when we met for the second coaching session, the client was still nervous. I was a bit surprised. And so before we began, by way of making conversation and just to acknowledge his anxiety, I asked, “And where could that anxiety have come from?” I don’t remember if he actually gave me an answer and I didn’t think very much of it. I was only making conversation, not yet coaching.

So I was pleasantly surprised when at our final session, the client said he wasn’t nervous anymore. He said, “I thought about the question you asked me the last time: ‘Where could that anxiety have come from?’ And I realised, I went through therapy when I was growing up, and I hated it. And there’s nothing I hate about what we’re doing. It’s completely different. So...” He smiled and said

“I could let the anxiety go”

You just never know how a Clean question might land, even if it’s asked casually. And you just never know what a client will do with a question when she or he is ready to process it. 

This is my first blog for the Association for Coaching. Going forward, I’ll keep blogging about Clean questions and how they can be applied in both one-on-one coaching work and in group facilitation.


Jacqueline Ann Surin

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Eye 4 of the Seven-Eyed Model: Sometimes it really is all about "me"!

Posted By Michelle Lucas, 01 July 2017
Perhaps a bit conceitedly, I pride myself on giving pretty good attention to the client even when my wider life is all rather busy.  Of course, in reality there are still times when, my attention wanders and I’m distracted by what is going on for me in the moment ….and in doing so, what might be going on for my client in the here and now fades to the background.  “Bad coach” I hear you utter … well don’t worry I’ve already given myself a good talking to - many, many times before I wrote this blog !!  However, I can’t really apologise for this, as since I’m human, it happens!!  And of course the more interesting and useful questions to consider are “why?” or “how?” does this happen? Eye four of the 7-eyed model is where we explore these questions  - encouraging us to consider what is going on for us as the coaching dialogue unfolds.

When I look to my own experience I notice two common triggers when I become aware of this eye.

The first trigger is something akin to performance anxiety –rather than paying attention to my client, my attention shifts to myself.  A recurrent question is “am I doing okay?” Perhaps the client is going around in circles, or I just offered a clunky question or I simply feel out of my depth.

The second trigger is when something in my client’s story resonates with my own, and I get flipped back to those past memories. When this happens, it’s likely that my own experience will filter what I do or don’t notice within my client’s story.  

Let’s take a look an example of the second trigger – when I have a subjective reaction to my client’s story.

My client had been in their organisation for just 18 months, she was hugely frustrated that she had been brought in as a “change agent” but now that she was in the organisation, she was expected to play by the rules with the existing (outdated) processes slowing her down almost to a standstill, she was significantly behind budget and feeling “lost”.

As a naturally forthright individual, she was finding that common sense wasn’t prevailing.  We talked through how else she might approach things and got into a discussion of how to manage the politics.  I offered a stakeholder analysis as a way of working out how to handle things more “subtly”.  Her reaction to this was interesting, she seemed split as whilst her words reflected the logic of the approach, it felt unlikely that she would actually alter her working style.

As I watched her ambivalence at the prospect of having to work differently, I was reminded me of how torn I felt in a similar corporate experience.  I commented that observing her I got the sense that whilst she knew “it made sense” there was an underlying question of “but why should I have to work in that way?! That’s not me”.  It was spot on, she laughed and this provoked further discussion. However, after a while I became aware that her perspective was now very much about what “they needed to do differently”.

Inadvertently I had colluded with her. I paused and gathered my thoughts, I knew I needed to get some objectivity back. I commented that they really did seem a tricky bunch, but that I was only coaching her, not them.  I enquired who she thought she could influence a little (and inwardly I was thinking, let’s rate these stakeholders and divide and conquer – oops! That’s what I did, who knows what she will want to do?).  

However, quite matter of factly, she said “none of them….”  Ok I said with a smile, so I guess that just leaves you? “It certainly looks that way” she said with an exhausted smile.  So tell me, I asked… what’s the shift that needs to happen in you, that will cause the shift you want to see in them?   Her response was quick “deliver the numbers… regardless… until I do that, no-one is going to pay any attention to me at all”.

The rest of the session had a completely different focus – her wider stakeholders were forgotten in favour of her own team and how she could galvanise them to turn things around.  Her positive energy had returned.

I hope this illustrates how whilst empathy is generally a good thing, and we can bring our own experience into the room to offer insight… there is also a dark side to this connectivity!  Has this ever happened for you?  And if so, how did you feel about it? And how did you manage to get yourself back on track? I’d love to hear your stories.


Michelle Lucas

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Getting too close? Remember to 'temperature check' your relationship with your coachee

Posted By Michelle Lucas, 01 July 2017

In Part four of this blog series about the “7 eyed Model” for coaching reflection and supervision, I’d like to share my experiences of looking at my work through the third ‘eye’: which is all about the relationship as it develops between coach and client.

In most cases, it is probably true that there is some sense of connection or rapport between client and coach – otherwise the coaching programme would not have got off the ground! However, there is general acceptance that the quality of the coaching relationship will determine the quality of the coaching that takes place. Indeed if you have ever worked with someone who has been “sent” to coaching, or who has had no choice in which coach they work with, you’ll know what it is like when that natural rapport is missing!! So, it is Eye 3 of the model that encourages us to explore what’s happening in the dynamic between coach and client and then to consider how this might be influencing the coaching dialogue.  

If you are familiar with the psychodynamic school of thought – then you will have heard about the notions of ‘transference’ (when the client sees in you, characteristics that are actually borrowed from other people in their lives) or ‘counter-transference’ (when the coach starts to absorb characteristics of the client, for themselves).  This is why a classic supervision question is “Who does this client remind you of?”  the question is testing whether we could be responding to the client as though they are someone else who we have experience of.  What I find interesting is that with some clients my relationship feels consistent, with others it can feel different from session to session.  Such differences can often signal that something of interest is going on, but as in my example below even when the relationship is relatively consistent it can still be helpful to “watch” what is happening to that relationship in each session. 

Sometimes you meet a client where there is just a natural chemistry – and you just “know” that this is going to be a fun assignment.  Last year I met a client for a chemistry session and within the first ten minutes he said “I just knew you’d be right for me when I read your profile”.  We have been working together for over 6 months now and our relationship has really matured. He is a natural relationship builder anyway, he is “hungry” for development and keen to learn and remarkably self-aware and humble.  As a result I find I can respond to him from many different frames – I find I bring my “whole self” to the relationship.  Coach, mentor, educator, sounding board, provocateur.  Interestingly he is really open about his family activities and although I normally share limited amounts of personal information with clients – I found myself swapping strategies about managing in-laws at Xmas!  So how has this affected the quality of the coaching work? Interestingly a good relationship can be a double edged sword.  Definitely there is a sense of trust between us – which means I can stretch his thinking beyond what might be completely comfortable for him.  However, I also noticed that occasionally I am in danger of getting “too close”. In one session I was about to make a strong challenge, and I hesitated as I felt a “tug” of worry about denting the relationship, almost as I would worry, if I were to challenge a friend.  A loud warning bell sounded in my head…thankfully, I knew I had to voice this hesitation …. and then make the challenge anyway.

So I think it is always worth considering what’s happening in the relationship with my clients.  I quite naturally “worry” when something doesn’t seem quite right and take this to supervision.  But as this example illustrates, it’s also fruitful to inspect what’s happening with those clients who you get on really well with.  It strikes me that whilst we all do our best to create good rapport, there is always the potential for things to get a bit too cosy??

7 eyed model

So it is Eye 3 that reminds me to “check in” and to do a temperature check on my client relationship. Too cool and perhaps we wont get to the heart of the matter.  Too warm and I need to be vigilant for potential collusion.  So some good questions I ask myself are – how is this person making me feel about me? How do I respond to them as a result? Or I consider how long have we’ve been working together. I ask myself, do I still feel like I must be on my “best behaviour”? or am I prepared to take a few risks and to experiment? 

What kind of “checks and balances” do you put in place to determine whether you have the optimal level of rapport for an effective working relationship?  What happens when you can’t seem to get close enough or conversely when you feel that you might be getting too close to be objective?  I’d love to hear your experiences.


Michelle Lucas

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Why did you do what you did?

Posted By Michelle Lucas, 01 July 2017

Looking at your coaching technique reveals more that you might think. In Part Three of this blog series about the “7 eyed Model” for coaching reflection and supervision, I’d like to share my experiences of looking at my work through the second ‘eye’ of Supervision: The Intervention which is effectively the tools, techniques or questions used.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has left a “busy” coaching session and then asked myself  “What exactly did I do?” and did it work  or not ??  I find that sometimes I have clear inspiration that using a tool or technique that I have used before might be valuable, sometimes I feel like I need to create something specific for the client in front of me …. And of course sometimes I get stuck and don’t know what to do to be of any use !!  When this happens I often feel that it would be helpful to talk to another coach and ask “What would you have done?”.   Interestingly, whilst seeking support when I get stuck seems like a sensible approach, it hasn’t always occurred to me to review “why” I chose a particular approach that did work well.  Through supervision and using this second eye of the model – it’s possible to slow things down and consider what influenced my decision to use a particular approach or line of enquiry.   

Let’s take a recent example when I almost surprised myself with the technique I used !  My client was an independent consultant. Most of her work came from one big organisation – but they had frozen the budget and so suddenly her income took a massive dip. She was also experiencing some personal difficulties with her daughter.  As she started the session a bundle of different emotions and issues tumbled out and I found I could not keep track of what she was saying.  I decided to use the gestalt technique of deconstructing the issue into the separate components. Normally I would give the client post it notes to label up – but I didn’t have any!  So we used some paper napkins to write on, then used whatever else we had in the room – water bottles, coasters, pens, notepads to represent different issues in the system.  This really helped to slow her down and literally “see” the issues laid out.  But the more interesting question is what drew me to use this technique?  It was quite a creative solution – and as a coach I know I can tend to be quite “safe and rational”.

So, what prompted me to take this more creative approach? Firstly, we were working in the office of a “funky” social enterprise / business start-up hub – so perhaps the creative environment prompted a different flavour to the work. I also remember feeling tired that day and I had noticed that I was beginning to “work quite hard”  - I felt like she was looking to me to make sense of things. So I wanted a technique that clearly put responsibility back to her for sorting things out.  Finally, as she had done some coach training herself, I thought she might be familiar with the technique (I checked and discovered that she was). This was actually useful on two fronts, at a practical level it meant it was easier for us to use the technique, plus it also gave her a sense of confidence, it grounded her as here was at least one area where she “knew what to do”. 

Diagram taken from Hawkins & Smith (2006) and adapted by Michelle Lucas

What I’ve discovered is that although it might sound like this eye is one that works in isolation – as with many of the other eyes it is actually influenced by the coach, the client and the context.  Inevitably, when we start out we have a limited number of techniques to pull upon, whereas with experience you will have more or you can co-create something with the client.   The kind of technique chosen might also reflect the characteristics of the client – for example some will like a rational structured dialogue and would balk at the idea of doing something creative.  Others relish the opportunity to work differently and will experiment by working with metaphor or exploring things through creating pictures or sculpture.  

Our technique is also influenced by our philosophy as a coach if you favour more psychological approaches you are more likely to “dive deep” than those coaches who prefer more action oriented approaches.  Moreover, the context in which the coaching is done can also influence the techniques – for example I’ve noticed that some organisations train their internal coaches in a specific approach which by definition will limit the diversity of techniques used. Similarly as an independent coach if you work as an associate, you will sometimes be required to using psychometrics or 360 as part of the “package”. 

So, I hope this illustrates that there’s no such thing as a simple “choice” of technique! This second eye brings fuller consideration of what really prompted you to do what you did?  I know that at times I can be a “creature of habit” – so when I reach for one of my favourite techniques, this eye acts as my “jiminy cricket” and causes me to stop for a split second and think – “how else could I support the client right now?”

I wonder what has this blog prompted you to think about the techniques that you have used recently?  It would be great to hear your experiences of what you think influences the techniques you use a lot or a little?


Michelle Lucas

Image Credit: zzpza (Flickr)

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Once a coaching question is asked, you can't go back...

Posted By Michelle Lucas, 01 July 2017

I remember when I was training as a coach that I held a belief that for every coaching situation there would be one intervention that was “perfect” for the matter in hand. And yet there were so many questions that I could ask or not ask – and so many avenues to explore once a conversation started – which one should I choose?  

I was also very aware that once a question was asked I couldn’t go back, I couldn’t “un-say” it! I would always have influenced what happens next. In those early days I found this almost paralysing …. What if I say the “wrong” thing?  

Many years later, I’ve become much more comfortable with the fact that no matter how experienced I become as a coach there will always be more “happening” in a session than it’s possible to deal with at the time.  I’m now much more fascinated with considering what I do or don’t see. What was it that informed my choices ? And what was it that prompted me go in one direction or another?  Whilst some of those choices will be conscious, at other times the choices I make could be the result of my unconscious or because of the dynamics in my client relationship. No wonder my head spins sometimes!

In truth it wasn’t until I trained as a supervisor myself that I became aware of something called the seven-eyed model, and once I got over the challenge of remembering what each of the 7 eyes were …. I found I loved it! 

In my experience the structure provided by the 7-eyed model helps me un-pick what might have been happening in the session both at conscious and unconscious levels.  Quite simply, each eye offers a different perspective from which to explore what might be happening.  Sometimes I use it to review my work independently, sometimes it is still all rather confusing and I need to talk it through with another professional coach or my coach supervisor.

With practice I have become more aware of the choices I make “in the moment” when working with a client. However, the sheer complexity of the coaching relationship means that I have yet to feel that I am making the “perfect” intervention that I dreamed of finding in when I was training!

In this series of blogs I wanted to bring the 7-eyed model to life. Below you’ll find my own “pictogram” of the model - as to be frank I couldn’t understand the original! In the subsequent blogs I’ll offer you my understanding of how each of the “eyes” work in practice.  Trust me, it’s really not as scary as it may first appear.  

         Diagram taken from Hawkins & Smith (2006) and adapted by Michelle Lucas

Is there a particular ‘eye’ that you find most valuable to reflect on and why? I’d love to hear your comments!


Michelle Lucas

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The Old Typewriter and Co Coaching

Posted By Simon Hague, 01 July 2017

If you are as old as I am, you may remember the old typewriters. I can remember sitting with my grandparents playing on this heavy cast iron mechanical thing that magically put letters onto a piece of paper. As time developed, multiple coloured ribbons offered different coloured print and electric typewriters removed the need for a workout every time you wanted to write. They seem a distant memory from today's technology but I still remember them fondly. The idiosyncrasies of the carriage return, the ink ribbon and the travel of the letters towards the paper all led to the experiences.

What then, has this to do with co coaching? Our professional development is a bit like the development of the typewriter. When we started on our coaching journey, we were clunky. We became aware of our in adequacies in practice and like the ribbon on the typewriter, we delivered a 'letter' but perhaps not as sharp as a more experienced coach - or so we thought. Time moved us forward and we saw the release of word processing and the luxurious quality of the laser printer. Just as in coaching, over time we found that our techniques improved, we found that we became more adventurous adding different scenarios and graphics into our portfolio that makes our client’s journey even richer.


Co coaching gives us permission to check our print and practice. It allows us the luxury of testing a new method and to receive immediate feedback from a fellow author (coach). It allows us to move from 1 fingered typing to 2 and onwards to complete touch typing. Even when you could be considered an expert, a new learning can be taken from the feedback given, and let's face it, any feedback is a learning opportunity.


For the purist, co coaching is typically an observed intervention between coaches. Just as in 'real life' interventions, it is unlikely that the coach is aware of the topic and so needs to engage with all skill to draw out what is really going on. At the end of the session, the observer and the Coachee feedback on what works and what may have worked better. Nuances of body language, verbal signals, and reactions to methods tried can be explored. 


It is both a celebration and a learning point for us all in our journey to become even better at what we do.


Simon Hague

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