Many coaches when I meet them for the first time ask what prompted me to become a coaching supervisor. In truth I became a coaching supervisor by chance – it wasn’t something I had planned. However, now that I’m here, there is no place I would rather be!
My portfolio is roughly 50:50 coaching clients and supervision clients – with the occasional coach development programme thrown in for good measure. Of all of this, it is the supervision work which I enjoy the most. There is a wonderful energy working with coaches who are passionate about their own development – and the nature of supervision relationships also means that we tend to work together over a longer period of time.
So what does that mean for my “average day”? Well, a couple of weeks ago, I had an almost perfect one. It was a Friday, a day when many coaches choose to work from home and so it usually has a supervision focus. I am based in Weymouth, Dorset – which is pretty much a long way from anywhere – and so being able to work via phone or skype is really convenient for me.
In the morning I had two individual supervision clients – both of whom were trainees at the same coaching school where I had trained. So on both occasions I had to be careful … managing myself to bring just enough of that shared experience to keep rapport, whilst watching out for the potential for collusion. The first session was fascinating, we discussed two of her 4 practice clients. She also shared that she was struggling with “how to reflect”. This is a common “confession” and one I too have struggled with in my own journey as a reflective practitioner. I see the role of supervisor as a flexible one and so I donned my “coaching the coach” hat to support her to create a specific action plan. By contrast with the second supervisee, we spent the whole hour exploring her experience with one client. The phrase “peeling the layers of the onion” was very apt. I find it intriguing how certain clients offer a disproportionate amount of learning.
In the afternoon I ran two supervision groups – whilst they each had the same structure, I needed to take a very different approach with each of them. My groups have a flexible attendance, so on each occasion the mix of participants will be different. Some will have worked together before, others will be working with people for the first time. This level of variety and complexity suits my personality style – I like to keep things fresh, yet at the same time I recognise that in a group supervisees need a sense of stability and safety.
Therefore before each group session, I put considerable thought into how this particular configuration of coaches are likely to be feeling about the group supervision call.
For those who are quite new to group supervision (or new to my group) I keep in mind my own sense of anticipation prior to my first group supervision experience (which felt like jumping off the 10 metre board!) For those who have worked with me many times, I notice a sense of reassurance as I relish what wonderful topics they might bring, and my level of trust in how they will bring their insight to support their peers.
In my reflections on one session I noticed it provoked a moment of insecurity for me. The way in which the coaches worked together was so mature and insightful that I wondered what value I had provided over and above what they brought themselves. Perhaps paradoxically, part of me welcomes this “wobble” – I remember an article by Eric de Haan who suggested that self-doubt is where great questions are born!
Looking at my diary for the Friday I knew I was going to be busy. So it was important to manage my energy through the day. Living by sea and being a dog owner, the start of the day is a well-oiled routine. A brisk walk across the seafront to blow away the morning’s cobwebs and I am then ready for the day ahead. At lunch time, I have found that the mindful colouring books are a great “fix” – 10 minutes of left brain activity is very generative. Of course as small business owner there’s no shortage of administrative tasks to manage. So even when I have a busy day I tend to use these activities as “fillers”. And this day was no exception – I discovered an unpaid invoice mid-morning and was able to chase for payment and get a response before the day was over. As I said earlier – pretty much a perfect day!