Choosing A Coach Supervisor
- 8 Questions to Ask

If you are investing in supervision to support your professional development as a coach, choosing a coach supervisor warrants some careful consideration.

I know from my own experiences of working with various supervisors over the past few years that supervision is a powerful intervention for improving one’s performance as a coach. Coach supervision allows an in-depth reflection on your practice as a coach and explores what is going on beneath the surface in your coach-client interactions.

During supervision, you potentially lay yourself bare to another person, exposing your strengths and shortcomings, successes and failures. To learn from such an experience, you need to know that you are in safe hands and that you have a supervisor whom you can trust, respect and have confidence in to help you to achieve your goals.

There are many supervisors now offering their services to coaches, all with their own unique personality and experience. To help you decide who is best for here are 8 questions to ask yourself to help you to make your final choice.

1.       How do I learn at my best?

Understanding how we learn at our best is a starting point for ensuring we get the best from supervision and for finding the right supervisor for us. 

I know that I learn at my best during supervision when I am relaxed and can creatively explore who I am as a coach. I know only too well the debilitating effects of self-criticism and that I thrive when I can appreciate and build on my strengths. And I also know that to really get the best out of my supervision, I have to be prepared to be vulnerable, learn some uncomfortable truths about myself, be open to new ways of doing things and be challenged to do things differently.

2.       What do I want from supervision?

There are lots of different ways a supervisor can support you and often these will only become apparent when you start supervision. However, having an understanding of what you would like from supervision may influence the questions you ask to potential supervisors and who you choose to support you. Some of the things that supervision offers are:

  • Support in managing concerns and anxieties within your coaching practice
  • Creative exploration that offers a multi-perspective view of the scenarios you present to your supervision
  • A deeper understanding of the discipline you work in e.g. team coaching or career coaching
  • Increased confidence
  • Challenge
  • Theoretical concepts to deepen your learning

3.       Who is offering their services?

Once you are clear about what you want from supervision and what will support your own learning, arrange conversations with several potential supervisors who may be able to help you. 

4. How do I get on with the supervisor?

The relationship you have with your supervisor is everything.  Supervision provides the opportunity for you to open up and fully explore who you are as a coach. To do this a safe space needs to be created between you and your supervisor, where there is total trust between you. The relationship between you and your supervisor is key – the chemistry must be there.

Further questions to ask:

  • Is there a good rapport between us/ does this supervisor really ‘get’ me?
  • Is the supervisor fully ‘present’ and attentive to my needs?
  • Can I be my full self with this supervisor or do I feel I have to put on an act?
  • Will I be able to learn at my best in this relationship?
  • Do I like, trust and respect the supervisor?

5.       Do I already have another relationship with this person that may compromise the supervisory relationship?

You may already have a prior relationship with a potential supervisor – perhaps they have worked on the same team as you, been your coach or are a close personal friend. Generally, given the nature of supervision it is recommended that you work with someone you don’t already have a close relationship with that could possibly compromise your work during supervision. Imagine if you were both delivering coaching to the same team – could client confidentiality be compromised if you were to bring that client to your session? If you do decide to work with someone who you do know, it is important that there is strong contracting around the way in which you work together, what gets shared. Both you and the supervisor needs to feel comfortable that you will be able to give your best in a session and not compromise the learning to be gained or service to the client.

Further questions to ask:

  • What relationship do I already have with this supervisor?
  • If we work together will I be able to fully open up and learn at my best?
  • Will client confidentiality be compromised?
  • What other factors might impede a supervision relationship?

  6. What experience, skills and qualifications does this supervisor have? 

The authority or credibility of the supervisor may be important to you, feeling confident that they are experienced in their field as a coach and also as a supervisor. Bear in mind that effective supervision requires a set of skills acquired through rigorous training so check out the credentials of those you speak to. Maybe you want to work with someone experienced in a particular sector or in a particular discipline, or who has undergone specific coach credentialed training.

Further questions to ask:

  • What experience does this supervisor have, and how important is this to my learning?
  • What qualifications are important to me?
  • What achievements do I expect of them, and important are they?

  7. What Impact does the supervisor have?

Ultimately you will be investing in supervision because you are seeking change or an impact of some kind. Impact can be measured by the shift that is created, the commitment and the actions generated. Supervisors need to be able to intervene in such a way that creates insight and impact. An initial conversation, particularly a sample session, can help you to establish a supervisor’s impact, although often this impact my not be obvious until you have fully engaged in a supervisory relationship.

Further questions to ask:

  • What did I experience as a result of talking to this supervisor?
  • Do I feel compelled to work with them?

8. What practicalities do I need to take into account?

Finally, you may want to consider any practicalities that will determine who to work with. Do their hours of work fit in with yours, do they offer face to face or virtual supervision, how much do they charge? 

As an experienced and professional coach, many of these questions may already be second nature to you and there will no doubt be further questions you will have. If you would like further information about coach supervision and the supervisors in our coach supervisor network please get in touch.

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