We're running a series of guest post on "Positive Practices in Coaching & Mentoring". You can read last week's excellent blogs from Clare Manning here & Ian Pettigrew here.
Today's post is brought to you by Julie Drybrough (@Fuchsia_Blue). As a consultant, facilitator and coach/mentor Julie has worked extensively in both private and public sector enterprises across the UK & Channel Islands for over 12 years. She specialises in leading and supporting organisational & people development, always striving to translate the learning intentions of the organisation into practical actions and outcomes.
I hope you enjoy her post!
Developing my Practice and Staying Sharp!
Reading Clare Manning’s post on Magnificence in Coaching this morning has left me inspired. I’m drawn to the notion of seeing magnificence in my clients – I always see them as resourceful, smart, capable, working hard through their stuff… but magnificence is special and I’m going to work to keep the concept of Magnificence in the room next session…. Fabulous.
Since David asked for guest blogs on Positive Practice in Coaching & Mentoring, I’ve been mulling on what my offering might be. What has emerged is a cross between my history as a developing coach and a call to supervision and support for all practitioners. It goes like this:
I came through the ILM 5 school of coaching – learning my craft through very practical advice about setting up the coaching contract, the process of coaching, some brilliant models and an encouragement to practice, journal, reflect.
For a long time, I stuck to the processes – using GROW and working with the client to identify goals and work through barriers. My reflection on this now is I was working a lot from my head at the start; being analytical of the client’s situation and language; remaining somewhat cool and detached from the person in front of me (check me: Professional Coach!) We had a hour and goals to pursue. Let’s go. From feedback, it was a broadly successful way to work with the client to unlock and unblock. I got repeat business, got recommended on. So it was OK.
Yet I had little scratchy voice telling me there was more for me and for my clients, somehow. I often had more “real” conversations with the client as we opened up or closed off a session. I felt more comfortable when I wasn’t worrying about whether or not we had explored Reality well enough… I felt a little stifled sometimes. This made me curious, so I sought Supervision.
As a person, I’m wired to be intuitive. I’m pretty in touch with my heart voice and my gut voice and I realised, through joining a peer Supervision group, that I wasn’t bringing my whole self to work. My original clients got Head-me……Clients now get whole me. My sense is that works a lot better for everyone.
My coaching practice is increasing grounded in Gestalt methodologies; working to pay exquisite attention to the person opposite, listening well, watching their responses and mannerisms. Part of the deal is I also use my own body, thoughts and responses as data for the client – co-creating a learning, exploring environment where I can reflect back that I feel stuck, or delighted, or that “I’m noticing a clenching of fingers when ever the new “lovely” boss is being mentioned….might that be significant? “
I work hard to stay curious about what I hear, see and experience. I am sometimes off-beam when I offer a reaction and I see my job then as being to explore more with my client. I am not the expert. I have expertise, sure, but only my client (in all their magnificence) truly knows what is real for them. I offer what is real for me and more often than not it is good grounds for discussion. These days I find we don’t just set and pursue goals, we redefine goals. How cool is that?
I’m mindful that I’ve written a lot here and I really could say a lot more….but a key point to all of this is what has consistently helped me and moved me forward as a coach and practitioner has been seeking out supervision, support…whatever you want to define it as.
I’ve had some 1-2-1 Supervision, I’ve worked in an informal peer “triad” in Edinburgh (which was amazing) and I am now in a more formal Group Supervision set with 5 other peers.
As coaches, I would say some of the most positive practice we could participate in is to ensure we are OK. OK as individuals. OK as people. I’d ask us to be rigorous and reflective about our practices; to stay open to new learning – to allow ourselves to bathe in our own magnificence, perhaps.
There are debates raging about Supervision and what is right and proper and accredited – I’m not getting into any of that. I focus on my need to stay sharp for my clients and notice when I’m in difficulty. I seek out peers and non-involved professionals to support me and that feels good. It’s part of my values and my practice. I go with what works. For me, it has been about addressing different needs at different times.
So my offer of positive practice to all magnificent coaches out there is pretty basic: look after yourselves first and you are ultimately looking after your clients well.