Coaching Supervision – a relational practice

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Coaching Supervision understands that while the observable business of coaching is going on – meetings, contracting, outlining coaching programs, coaching sessions – it is people who do the talking and thus, who and how we are in the conversation, affects outcomes. This ‘who and how we are’ piece is mostly unobservable from the outside, but can have significant impact on effectiveness.

How does Coaching Supervision help?

A process of reflection with a Coach Supervisor helps the coach to become aware of relevant strengths and weaknesses and to become stronger and more confident across a range of conversations. CS explores and clarifies what goes on in these relationships and conversations and enables coaches to be intelligent about creating effective conversation in every ‘coaching moment’.

The CSA team bring huge experience and dedication to all their enterprises and I have personally benefited from their work.
-Marianne Craig, MCC

Coaches in supervision often refer to the relief of having time and space to think about particular aspects of their work and especially to think/reflect with a trusted colleague who will microscopically explore practice with them and contribute to their understanding. This support enables the coach to contain and resolve some of the more challenging parts of their work:

  • their frustrations with coachees
  • their concern that they are not doing enough
  • the difficulty of keeping to a coaching contract when the coaching ‘flow’ is going off piste the undue influence of the organisation (often implicit) or of key stakeholders which might reduce coach effectiveness (power/disempowerment)
  • unexpected emotional material either within the coach or in the coachee
  • ‘ruptures’ in the coaching relationship

If coaching supervision sounds like something that would interest you, please contact me for more details.  Opportunities are available in both individual and group sessions.

Small Group Supervision

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Small group supervision offers coaches and leaders the opportunity to reflect on specific clients and on who they are in the presence of those clients.

What is Coaching Supervision all about?

While Coaching Supervision is well known in Europe, it is just emerging in North America. Fundamentally, supervision for coaches provides increased self-awareness of the coach-in-practice. Three very practical aspects of coaching are addressed:

  • Continuing professional development through disciplined reflection and feedback.
  • Reinforcing professional standards and best practice through attention to ethics, boundaries, methods.
  • Restorative support by stepping into a safe space away from the stresses of coaching.

As part of the practice of coaching supervision, three key areas are emphasized.

Equilibrium: As a coach, you are in a helping profession and you must relate to your clients and build an environment of trust, openness, safety, and curiosity. At times, this can be challenging and, if you have a substantial client portfolio, tiring. Ever had a client with whom you struggled—where you anticipated some meetings with a hint of reluctance? My assessment? You are human. In supervision, we work together to help surface these issues so you can navigate through your feelings and distinguish them from those of your clients. How is your energy for coaching these days? Being in good personal equilibrium is essential for good coaching.

Ethics: Coaches often get caught between conflicting roles and expectations, especially when they work in organizational settings. Sometimes we over- or under-identify with clients; and sometimes the limits of your responsibilities as a coach are challenged. It is not unusual, for example, for a coach—even an experienced one—to slide into confusing her/his objectives and standards for the client’s. Are you aware of when that happens? Political situations and relationships impact the coach and the coaching relationship. How do you manage it all? Ethics is more than appropriate physical and financial boundaries; it has to do with on-going distinctions about our roles, our responsibilities, and our emotional boundaries.

Effectiveness: Are you succeeding as a coach? Are your clients getting the results they desire? There are many ways of assessing overall effectiveness; all of them depend on the quality and clarity of your contract. Another consideration is effectiveness in the moment. What do you do when something doesn’t go well? When you don’t know what to do? Supervision offers the opportunity to reflect on coaching sessions in a disciplined, learning-oriented way to address these and other issues. You might ask yourself who is working harder, you or your client? If it’s you, it might be time for a tune up.

Coaching supervision can look like:

  • Individual sessions by telephone or in person. Contracts are generally for six months, one session per month. After building a partnership, supervision-on-call can be arranged in which we address recent or upcoming coaching that presents a challenge.
  • Group supervision in person. Groups of up to eight coaches meet on a regular basis to review cases and explore coaching challenges. The supervisor guides the conversations, but, as the group develops, more and more support is obtained from colleagues.
  • In house supervision for organizations with internal coaches. Contracts for supervision can be arranged for scheduled work much like group supervision and on a retainer basis to support the overall coaching effort in the organization.

I love to help coaches achieve their own greatness in service of their clients. While I won’t promise to know what is best for you, I do promise to be your partner in helping you be the most effective coach you can be. My role is to help re-generate your own internal supervisor and your own self-reflection capability. Experienced coaches who undertake supervision tell me their understanding of self and of coaching is greatly increased.

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Groups meet for 3 hours once per month for six months. The cost is $1500 each with a possible reduction if fees are entirely paid before the group begins.

Dates: Registration for the first session is open until December 20th. Please email me at sam@sammagill.com to register or visit my website for additional details.

Harvest Timing, an Excerpt from “Fully Human”

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As you may or may not know, I wear a couple of hats in addition to coach and consultant.  One of the hats I like to don is that of poet.  I have written and published an entire collection of poetry. “Fully Human” depicts moments of life illuminating what it means to be human in our times. These rich and poetic metaphors have been wonderfully received by clients in health care, mental health and education where I have used my work to help people explore life’s challenges and moments of grace. Geoffrey Bellman, well-known local leadership author says in the book’s endorsements, “You reach into and through the shadows and death in its many forms. Many people will find solace in your words about suffering meaninglessness…and those that don’t should! You coax the meaning out of the darkness with a knowing voice.”

Following is a season-appropriate excerpt from my collection.  “Fully Human” is available for purchase on my website.  Enjoy!

Harvest Timing

The apples are gathered in now
And it was a good crop.

The last of the raspberries
Mould on the canes,
A few tomatoes linger
In hopes of one more sunny day.

It’s been a good garden this year.
I’ve spent more time than ever
Weeding beds, mowing, trimming;
I even attacked the blackberries
And morning glory vines.

Weeks ago I noticed progress in
My cleaning out, but yesterday
I saw these last ones
Have not given up.

New vines, even in September,
Creep back into the walks,
Set off new shoots into the Rhododendrons.

Now I see life in a mix of ripe fruit
And work that isn’t done.
Come Spring, I’ll hit the vines again
And feel I’ve made more progress –
Once more cutting back the over growth
Pulling up the morning glory
secretly invading the vegetables.
Every year I cut them back,
And they in turn grow more.

Life, then, is as much about
The weeds as it is about the fruit.

As ministers, stewards of the garden,
We weed and prune,
Sometimes getting what we want.

The cuttings, handled well,
Turn to compost for growing
More sweet fruit.

Written by Samuel P. Magill