What is Coaching Supervision?

What is Coaching Supervision?
“Coaching supervision is a formal process of professional support which ensures continuing development of the coach and effectiveness of his/her coaching practice through interactive reflection, interpretative evaluation and the sharing of expertise.”
—T. Bachkirova, P. Stevens, and P. Willis, Oxford Brookes Website

This definition for coaching supervision is from Oxford Brookes University, where I received my coaching supervision training and became certified as a coach supervisor. According to this definition, the purpose of coaching supervision is in developing you as a coach and the effectiveness of your practice. This includes the development of skills, competencies, your way of "being," and anything else that might make your coaching more effective. Note that coaching supervision does not aim at helping a coach to grow their business directly. However, with the improved skills that you eventually built through coaching supervision, your clients will get better results through your coaching, and referrals based on your excellent work can undoubtedly  grow your coaching business.

And how is coaching supervision done?

We see that the Oxford Brookes definition focuses on "interactive reflection, interpretative evaluation and the sharing of practice." Personally, for my coaching supervision practice, I cannot emphasize enough the aspect of interactive reflection. In a world that over-values action, reflection is often neglected. But reflection is mission-critical to gain new insights and to enable you to act differently where needed. Interactive reflection with your coach supervisor may help you to see your coaching in a different light and take your coaching capabilities to the next level.

While in coaching any form of teaching might be frowned upon, you see that "the sharing of expertise" — and I would add "experience" — is explicitly included in this definition of coaching supervision. Coaching supervision includes learning from your coach supervisor based on their specific knowledge and experience. If you choose to work with me as your coach supervisor, you may benefit from my experience of over ten years of executive coaching, corporate leadership experience in Europe and Asia, teaching leadership in an Executive MBA program, and in my deep dive into applied neuroscience for coaching.

The term "interpretive evaluation" may be confusing: as your coach supervisor, I see myself as your trusted partner at eye level. Therefore, I will not "evaluate" or judge you as a good or bad coach. I will, of course, provide you with honest feedback, and we will explore together what is working well in your coaching approach and what isn’t.

To complete the list, let’s briefly touch on the "formal process of professional support." I believe that "professional support" needs no further explanation. What I would like to highlight, though, is that I do not see myself as overly formal. To me, "formal" in coaching supervision refers to having an explicit professional agreement about the scope of our work together.

There are various definitions for coaching. How about coaching supervision?

Right, there are several definitions for coaching supervision out there, but the good news is, they are all quite similar.

The European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) defines on their website:

“(Coaching) supervision is the interaction that occurs when a mentor or coach brings their coaching or mentoring work experiences to a supervisor in order to be supported and to engage in reflective dialogue and collaborative learning for the development and benefit of the mentor or coach, their clients and their organisations.”

Similarly to Oxford Brookes, the EMCC looks at coaching supervision as an interactive process, and once again, reflective dialogue and collaborative learning are highlighted. However, what stands out is that the EMCC explicitly extends the development and benefit of coaching supervision not only to the coach but also to their clients and organizations. 

I appreciate emphasizing that coaching supervision goes beyond serving the individual coach. It is an important reminder that coaching supervision does not occur in isolation but that coach and supervisor become part of a broader system through their interactions.

Let’s finally look at the International Coaching Federation’s (ICF) definition for coaching supervision:

“Coaching Supervision is a collaborative learning practice to continually build the capacity of the coach through reflective dialogue for the benefit of both coaches and clients. Coaching Supervision focuses on the development of the coach’s capacity through offering a richer and broader opportunity for support and development. Coaching Supervision creates a safe environment for the coach to share their successes and failures in becoming masterful in the way they work with their clients.”

We can conclude that all three institutions agree that "collaborative learning," "reflective dialogue," and "support" are crucial elements in coaching supervision that help to develop a coach’s capacity.

Like the EMCC, the ICF also highlights that coaching supervision does not only benefit the coach but also their clients. 

As an executive coach, I have benefited a lot from coaching supervision, and I strongly encourage every professional coach to give it a try if they haven't yet. The term supervision should not scare you, as it has nothing to do with supervision as we often use it in organizational contexts ("supervisor" is typically a synonym for "boss"). Rest assured that when you choose to work with me as your coach supervisor, I do not see myself in any way superior to you but as your trusted confidant who meets you at eye level. Super-vision means to me that we look (vision) together at your coaching practice from above (super), thereby developing your coaching capacity for your benefit and your clients'.

If you would like to explore coaching supervision and find out if I am the right coach supervisor for you you, please contact me via gerrit@coachingsupervision.online or through the contact form below to schedule a complimentary exploratory session without any obligations. I look forward to hearing from you!

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