What Would You Do & Why? Coaching Supervision Challenges & Results 

Brighton- If you’re a coach and you’re growing your business, you probably already have a mentor coach. But there’s something called a coaching supervisor, and this was a new term to me, so I’ve asked Marilyn O’Hearne to come on today and share with all of us about coaching supervision. So, Marilyn, thank you for coming on today to discuss coaching supervision challenges & results.

Marilyn- Great to be here with you, Brighton, always fun.

Brighton- Wonderful, so I think we actually talked about having this conversation when I was recording you as a mentor coach talking about the core competencies. And, so today we’re talking about coaching supervision. So, to me, mentor coaching and coaching supervision are very similar, or feels similar. So maybe we can start out just with the definition and what’s the difference between the two.

Why Hire a Coaching Supervisor?

Marilyn- According to ICF, their definition of mentor coaching and what their expectation is, is developing in the Core Competencies. And that would be as you progress through the three different levels of credentialing. And coaching supervision is really about the bigger picture development of the coach and so, we know that coaches are frequently working in their home office a lot with virtual clients and might want someone to come alongside them and be able to say, “Here’s what came up in my coaching and I wasn’t sure what to do” or, “I want to celebrate that it went so well.” So it’s a bigger picture (“broader and deeper,” ICF) development beyond the core competencies. That’s one of the aspects.

And the second kind of related to that is that it’s restorative. Sometimes we can get a little burnt out and isolated just doing our work on our own.

And then the third is kind of a quality control, we want coaches to be doing their best work so that the clients get the greatest impact and sometimes coaching supervision is actually required by certain organizations or in certain parts of the world to assure that all the coaches working with that organization or in that part of the world are meeting a certain standard. And so it’s not just like you get your credential and you’re done but how are you continuing to develop and review and reflect on the coaching that you’re doing with a trained coaching supervisor. Those are some of the aspects.

Brighton- You got into a couple things there that I wanna dig into. And one of them is that where it’s required. Because one of the things that we kind of talked about before this call was that ICF does not require coaching supervision but they do require mentor coaching. Maybe you could talk about that and also who does require it.

Marilyn- Certain regions of the world and organizations require coaching supervision. Another coaching organization called The European Mentor Coaching Council, EMCC, and these organizations and global regions have the expectation that if you’re a coach you would have coaching supervision. So Europe, especially the UK and also Australia and then certain organizations. So let’s say and I’m not saying this is true, I’m just pulling this as an example, IBM had 150 leaders and they wanted to hire through one coaching group, which is the trend, 15 coaches that would each have 10 clients, then part of their expectation would be for quality control, that each of those 15 coaches would be supervised by a coaching supervisor.

What Would YOU Do? Coaching Supervision Challenges & Results

That would be ensuring that they’re delivering a quality of coaching that IBM is expecting and in an ethical way. It’s a very reflective process. So I would be, let’s say, I’m coming to you Brighton, and you’re my coaching supervisor. Then I would say, “Here’s what happened in my coaching today, and I wasn’t sure about how to handle this ethically.”

And I can give you an example of that right now that would be helpful. Someone that I was supervising came, it was our first supervision session and they had just contracted with this organization. So it was their first coaching session. And the HR, the Human Resources person, pulled them aside and said, “Just want to let you know you’re going to be coaching this person who’s on maternity leave and when they come back, we’re going to fire them. But you can’t tell them that.”

Brighton- Wow.

Marilyn- Yes, and the question was “what do I do?” We know we have confidentiality ethically with our client but what happens when HR says, “I’m going to tell you something and you can’t tell anyone else.” And that actually was a new learning for me, because I always have it as part of my contracting, I’m not going to be sharing with HR or anyone else what the client says without their permission.

Brighton- Right.

Marilyn- But what happens to the opposite way? So that was what we explored, how she was going to handle that request from HR and just how much she felt put on the spot. This was a new client, she wanted to do well and yet this just didn’t feel right for her.

Brighton- Yeah, that’s a great example of having someone, someone there with a lot more experience you can bounce ideas off of. Why do you think, like, especially in the US that we’re not seeing coach supervision, seeing as much of that or seeing the requirement for that just yet?

Earn Continuing Coach Education

Marilyn- Well, as you mentioned, the ICF isn’t requiring it yet. And in the US, people tend to do more what ICF requires. Although you do get continuing coach education for coaching supervision through ICF. For each credentialing renewal period of three years you can count 10 hours of coaching supervision towards that. And I think there’s been some pushback. Well, I know there has been because I served on the Global Board of ICF for six years. When we first started looking at supervision and hearing about it from coaches in Europe and Australia, there was some pushback from some coaches in the US because supervision in the US is required for mental health professionals. And some people had kind of this idea that, “Oh, we don’t want to be like mental health.” And some coaches even said, “I think I’m doing some of this already in mentor coaching.” But that’s not what ICF says. ICF says the definition of mentor coaching is focusing on the development of the core competencies.

Brighton- Interesting, okay, yeah, great. Well, hopefully things will be changing and I think maybe as mental health becomes a little more of an accepted topic in the United States, maybe it’ll be talked about a little bit more. But now I wanna jump back to, I mentioned that the coach supervisor has more experience than you. So, let’s talk about the training that goes into becoming a coaching supervisor and you are a mentor coach, you’re a coaching supervisor, so, you’ve gone through this so that’s why you can can talk about it so well.

What Is the Training for Being a Coaching Supervisor?

Marilyn- I am a Certified Global Coaching Supervisor. And in order to get that certification, I went through 150 hour training over a nine month period and it was like taking a graduate course. We read books and wrote book reports, we met in at for peer practice, and we met together every week for two and a half hours, and part of that time was bringing in coaching supervisors from around the world where they would actually do a live coaching supervision group with us or supervise someone from our cohort. We got to see different styles and experience different people’s ways of supervising, and then do it ourselves and then we were also supervised. We had to have a certain number of hours, just as you would for ICF for coaching, to complete the certification, where we were providing the coaching supervision ourselves. It’s very intense and really, I went into it because I’ve been an MCC since 2005 (and a Mentor Coach since 2003) and I’m trained in all these different areas, like Immunity to Change. I was hearing from other MCCs that this was really an enriching experience and taking them and their coaching to a deeper level. That is what MCC or mastery coaching is about, taking coaching to that deeper level, in this reflective space. The feedback that I got from my supervisors or that I’m a natural for this. I have a more reflective space and leave lots of room for the client to express themselves rather than kind of push my words. So it feels like a good natural fit.

Brighton- Let’s go into who hires a coaching supervisor. When should you as a coach, look into hiring a coaching supervisor?

Marilyn- Well, I’ll give some examples. One was someone that I had mentored before, in Europe, and they contacted me and said, “Oh, now for this coaching contract that I want to be part of I have to have a coaching supervisor.” So that’s one example of when a coach would hire a coaching supervisor, right?

Brighton- Yep.

Marilyn- And another example is some of the people that I have mentored in the past want to take themselves and their coaching to the next level. They are now starting a group with me within the next two months. And for me again, it was, okay, I’ve gotten to this point and how can I go further, even further for continual development and learning which is fun and exciting for me.

Brighton- But I’m assuming coaching supervision is available to anyone in terms of ICF terms ACC, MCC, PCC.

Coaching Supervision Challenges & RESULTS

Marilyn- Yes, and I’ve had coaches at all three levels, ACC, PCC and MCC. And, at the MCC level, one said it really helped them step back and reflect on their their whole coaching business and how they’re practicing. They started noticing this group they were handling differently than another group of clients, and why was that and what did they want to do about it. And also that sense of refreshment. Sometimes you get so busy with all the details that it can wear you down a little bit and even impact your confidence level. I was hearing that renewal of confidence, renewal of ease and joy about coaching, even with experienced coaches, which is really fun. Another aspect was staying in role. A lot of coaches don’t just coach. Like me, I’m a coaching supervisor, I’m a mentor coach, I’m a coach and I coach leaders and teams and then I also do presentations and training.

Brighton- Maybe some consulting.

Marilyn- Yes, so people that like me that have a number of things that they offer related to whatever training they had before, one of their goals in coaching supervision could be to stay in coaching role rather than getting into teaching mode or some other aspect of their work or their previous work.

Brighton- It seems here what I’m hearing is that, really, as a coach, you needed three people in your world, at least three people so, you need your own coach, you need a mentor coach to be able to move through the core competencies, a coaching supervisor who will help you just with business and outside the core competencies and I guess the last one is you need clients.

Marilyn- Yes, clients are really important!

Brighton- Yes, exactly. That’s the last key part. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about coaching supervision challenges & results in this interview, it’s something like I said, I didn’t quite understand it, I think I’ve got a pretty good understanding. Is there anything you’d like to add before we kind of give you a chance to tell people how to get in touch with you?

Marilyn- I was trained in systems theory post-graduate and this is really an important part of coaching supervision. For example, what’s going on with you, let’s say, Brighton as a coach and your client and how might that be reflecting the larger system. Example: Your client is part of an organization that’s downsizing and they’re really afraid. You might feel yourself picking up on some of that fear and anxiety as a coach. How does that show up and then how does that show up in our supervision? So it’s this multi layer looking at the impact of the system. A question that I ask starting a coaching supervision session is, “What’s going to be of most value for you, your clients, their organization and the wider systems that they impact?” It’s really that systemic perspective. And another fun thing for me about supervision has been learning about Nancy Kline’s More Time to Think and ensuring that space for reflection by asking, “What more do you think, feel or want to say right now?” By the time you’ve asked that about three times and let that space open, something will pop up. So that’s really fun too as we explore coaching supervision challenges & results.

Brighton- Let’s kind of transition as we’re heading out here. How does one find a coaching supervisor? You are one and we’ll give you a chance to kind of tell them how to find you but, like if you wanted to find a mentor coach, you could go to the ICF website and find all the mentor coaches out there. How does one typically find a coaching supervisor?

Marilyn- I think at this point, you in the US, you would just need to Google it. I know that there’s the America’s group that’s been working on a website where we could all be highlighted and listed but I don’t know if that’s up yet or not so, I can get back with you on that.

Brighton- Okay, yeah, so we’ll have a link down below or something. And maybe it is just checking in with other coaches, maybe word of mouth is the best way to find that so, how about this word of mouth? How can people if they have liked you through this interview and feel like you might be a perfect coaching supervisor for them, how can they get in touch with you?

Marilyn- My website is marilynoh.com this is the page on supervision to further explore as well as sign up for a group: marilynoh.com/coaching-supervision/  And, my email is marilyn@marilynoh.com.

Brighton- Well, thank you so much Marilyn for your time here discussing coaching supervision challenges & results. And for those of you watching, if you’re ready to go from supervision into really digging into those core competencies now, I’ve got a great series that includes Marilyn on the core competencies, so you can go ahead and click on that, and we’ll see you over in the next video.

Updated June 2019 post to reflect the change in the number of ICF competencies.