in     by Mary Britton 25-08-2016

Coaching Supervision Part Two: Presence

“Do your part, then step back.” Luminita D Saviuc  

As a coach and trainer I intend to offer transformation to my coachees and students. Supervision supports me and challenges me to stick with this intention even when the ‘noise’ of my customary thoughts, opinions or beliefs is threatening to get in my way. Perhaps it’s worth asking how?

As coaches and as leaders we bring ourselves with us into everything we do. Sound obvious? Maybe not. We believe that we are setting ourselves aside somehow when we step into our role as a coach or as a leader. We are doing what we have been trained to do or what we have learned to do and we are finding a somewhat neutral place to stand – a place from which we can listen with the clarity of distance, without our customary filters and hotspots. And, for much of the time, we have a high level of success with these efforts.

I have a little news for you. Please forgive the challenging nature of this news.

Your human brain, just like my human brain, needs to label, categorize and organise incoming sensory information. If you and I did not do this we would not have enough space in our PFC (pre frontal cortex) to make pressing decisions about the complex stream of data coming our way almost all of the time. Being a coach, in a coaching session, is no exception. Being a leader – running a meeting or a process, receiving reports, writing reports, making key decisions also offer no exceptions. So there is work to do in training ourselves to simply be present. To trust that not knowing the answers is not only ok – but the best place from which to listen.


Here are three ideas for you to explore which can help you with this:
1. Notice your feelings when you are “setting yourself aside” – always. Allow yourself to develop a broad vocabulary which distinguishes these feelings one from the other. There is a big difference, for example, between feeling frustrated and feeling bored.
2. Remember that these are your feelings – they arise in your mind in response to a perceived trigger. Your clients do not annoy you – you choose annoyance as a response to the trigger of something. Something could be a thing your client says or does. Something could also arise from a habit of your own which allows annoyance to arise every Friday when you have made a three pm face to face appointment with a coachee – which will mean you have to sit in slow moving traffic and miss out on a social occasion.
3. Capture these feelings for later reflection. Anything which takes your attention away from your coachee or your team member is preventing you from being fully present in that moment. And a series of such moments are evidence that there is something important for you to look at and process for yourself.

There’s plenty more to learn about your presence. And I invite you to try the 1,2,3 steps above.
The fourth, unstated step, is to take your observations to a supervisor. You can reflect on them yourself, of course. And it is valuable to do this every day. And a talented supervisor will partner you in accessing deeper patterns, or the persistent habits which can keep you from BE-coming even better than you already are.

Let me know how you get on?

The ICF Auckland 2016 Thrive conference offers one more place to consider this a little more for yourself. More on this coming next week in the last two blogs of the four part series..

Mary Britton,
Contact me on with your feedback or thoughts.