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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Matthews

The Theatre of Coach Supervision

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

Often there is a misunderstanding of what coach supervision is. A common view is that it is just coaching for coaches. While there are many aspects of coaching to be observed in supervision it is done within a separate framework that facilitates a distinct process.

Another common (and terrifying) view is that there will be someone sitting in a session marking your performance. This is where the practice suffers from the language of its name, it has nothing to do with traditional corporate supervision and is far more aligned as a form of professional and self reflection.

A metaphor that I find useful in understanding what supervision is and how it works goes something like this…

Think of sitting in a theatre watching a play and during the intermission I come and sit next to you. You offer to give a quick synopsis of what has happened, and give me the high level run through. However, there is a slight problem, your seat has an obscured view which means you unfortunately missed some of the action in a specific part of the stage. Your synopsis gives me a good idea of the elements at play and I suggest that we could ask the ushers if we can find other seats.

We are given permission to check out the balconies, we discuss where to look for the best vantage points. You have seen many productions here, and you have a hunch of which balcony would offer a clearer perspective. Success, the balcony is available! We settle in to watch the second half and with the new view you are able to make sense of what was previously obscured and gain clarity on the story which helps tie together a beautiful production.

This is how I colour in this metaphor to relate to a coach supervision session:

  • The play is like your own experience as a coach. Over time you may notice that there certain patterns in your practice. These patterns are like story lines, characters, plot twists etc. (Topic)

  • The obscured view is the unknown of what the patterns in your practice are about, and becomes a point of inquiry. (Supervision question)

  • Moving to a balcony is a specific part of the coach supervision process. The supervisor invites you to think of a model or tool that will help frame your thinking about the point of curiosity. This model/tool is exceptionally valuable in creating enough distance from the situation of the topic to gain new insights. (Framework)

  • The experience of the theatre, is significant in drawing on your own experience rather than relying on the supervisor to present a view that may not fit. (Own insight)

  • Making sense of the previously obscured parts is like identifying the underlying key issue. This awareness helps shift the learning to a transformational level. (Key issue)

This metaphor is not exhaustive of the processes of coach supervision, rather a light overview. To me the most important features of a supervision session are the ability to create distance to see new perspective on potential blind spots and understand the underlying key issue. All of this is essential in keeping yourself cared for (professionally & personally), your coaching tools sharp and your clients receiving your best quality engagement.

Facilitating this process is a specific skill set and requires trust in the supervisor. This highlights the importance of doing your leg work to find a trained supervisor that suitably challenges and supports you.

If you would like to explore your own points of curiosity as a coach to deepen your experience and skill, feel free to contact me,or book a free chemistry session with me now. Go to my webpage to find out more about my coach supervision services.

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