Insight Take a Deep, Clear Look at How You Coach™ is a process for opening possibilities in reflective practices in small groups. This is an opportunity for you to learn by being in relationships with others.
Are you curious about any of the following questions?
- Do you sometimes feel lonely as a solo practitioner?
- Do you wonder if you are the only coach who is stuck with a client or concerned about whether you are adding value?
- Do you want to learn more about what you do well as a coach, to catch up with your own development?
- How would it be to learn about processes that resource you while creating the opportunity to learn about yourself, your practice, your clients and their organizations?
Ready to explore?
In my own experiences of being a supervisee in a group, I have seen aspects of myself that I didn’t know were there. As a supervisor, I invite small groups and individual coaches to notice themselves in the group.
Below are stories from the research which I use because I have the permission of the group, and the individual coaches.
Noticing one’s self in the group interaction:
The benefit of what the others noticed often opened up a new perspective or awareness for the presenting coach. It was an opportunity to notice one’s reactions as practice of observing one’s self as a coach in the moment.
I asked in one group if we could try something new, briefly, and they agreed. I invited the group to share “What came up for you? Visuals or feelings or stirrings—just what did you notice in yourself as the coach described his case?” We took turns responding. Two coaches moved right to offering a solution; they did not name any noticing in themselves. Another coach shared she had felt tenderness and care; another coach found herself in many different places as she tried to notice what she was observing and stay present to the presenting coach’s descriptions. I shared an image that had popped for me that the coach was an adult figure, and her client was a younger person, and that they were not shoulder to shoulder.
I asked the group to share what they noticed about themselves as coach in the responses to what was stirred in them. The two coaches who had jumped to solutions, noticed that they had done that and reflected on the challenge of learning to let go of their solution orientation and move into coach mode. Another shared she was unable to stay in presence. One group member discovered by not taking notes she had found herself able to be fully present: “my ideas or thoughts just floated away…I’ve never noticed that before”. The presenting coach discovered a theme as she listened to the others—over the last 90 days, she had been shifting her stance with some clients away from unconditional positive regard when she had a story about their lack of resourcefulness.
The coaches noticed the links between what they were experiencing in the session and how it tied back to how they were in the world and as a coach.
What to do with our judgment?
It was common to have instances where, as coaches, we moved into judgment of our clients necessitated cultivating the ability to notice in the moment and reflect on what had just happened. Judgment was always present in the room, just as it was always present in our daily lives. Our relationship with judgment was one we discussed several times in a variety of settings.
The theme I shared was that all judgment was data, which was a framing I had learned from my supervisor. It could be useful if we were self-aware enough to notice we had moved to judgment, and then instead of immediately acting on it, to pause and consider what it was telling us.
There was the opportunity to use that information in one of at least three ways: if the judgment was about ourselves and had no relevance to the client or to our supervision session, we could use our skills in self-awareness coupled with self-regulation and put it aside for the moment. If the judgment was about the client, the coach could use it, immediately, in the session, e.g., if the coach felt the client was condescending, the coach could share with the client those feelings, and ask the client if they recognized that in feedback from others. Was this a pattern for the client? The client could defer, deny or move forward at their discretion. The third option could be for the coach to note it and put it aside until a time when it was relevant to the work with the client, or until they felt they could challenge the client with this potential insight.
Mutual vulnerability of the supervisor serves the coaches’ learning:
In a group one morning, sensing that I could be of service to their learning, and my own, I self-disclosed about my work with one of my coaching clients. I asked if they would supervise me as I was “stuck with a client”.
I was wondering how it might shift the energy for us to work on my sticky situation. As Brown, B.C. (2012) often says vulnerability invites vulnerability and I was testing that theory in an experimental way.
“When we pay attention, right in the midst of the difficulties and strains, and the pleasures and pains of our lives, it’s the unexpected, the puzzles, the paradoxes that catch us, open us, change us”.
(Marc Lesser, 2019)
This opened up a discussion on mastery, as there was some consternation and doubt, particularly from one coach, that I could be “stuck” since I was a supervisor. He considered me to be a masterful coach who would not get stuck and expressed it was “ironic”. We talked about what mastery means and the potential for lifelong supervision, regardless of our level of mastery. Here it was in the moment—the asymmetrical nature of my relationship to the group as supervisor: I was on a pedestal of varying heights, holding the power of approval (Ögren, Boëthius, and Sundin, 2014).
In the journaling following the session, and in the 3 action learning meetings, some members of the group seized on my self-disclosure as being the most pivotal in our years together. It created a deeper sense of safety, because if I could get stuck it was more OK for them to share when they were stuck.
I discovered additional instances throughout the research, especially when the coaches, in the three groups supervised by others, shared appreciation of their supervisors in the meetings with me. Many of the coaches exclaimed that the supervisor’s willingness to share their struggles had contributed to their overall experiences in the group and enabled their stepping into their own vulnerability to share their challenges.