in     by Mary Britton 19-08-2016

A four part series on Coaching Supervision: What can Coaching Supervision deliver for you as a Coach? as a Leader?


Part One: Stepping out of my boxes

“He who stands on tiptoe does not stand firm…He who defines himself can’t know who he really is.” Lao Tzu




I live. I learn. I get excited, even passionate about some of the things I discover along the way. I want to share them, sometimes I want to teach them. I even begin to have some expertise and then…
It’s an awful thought but then I discover that I am limiting myself, putting myself in a box, or a set of boxes. If I can not allow less than perfect thoughts or less than perfect feelings – allow them, sit with them, reflect on them and begin to learn something new – then I cannot allow myself to be authentic and incomplete. I cannot fill myself with the knowledge that there is so much more for me to learn and understand.

I am a person who is committed to continuous learning through being open to new knowledge. I believe that there is always more to discover. I understand that people are constantly completing research and making discoveries which change things EVERY DAY! On individual, team, organisation, community and global levels – every day…Inside my boxes – my box of expertise, my box of knowledge and experience, my box of pretending to be perfect and not quite human in my stray thoughts and emotions – I am not able to honour who I am.

Who am I? A woman who is OPEN to learning. A woman who listens. A woman who holds to a humble ‘beginner’s mind’ way – which allows me to be curious, surprised, full of wonder. A woman who simply knows – that there is so very much I do not know. Our ‘labels’ do not summarize who we truly are. For coaches these labels may include who we trained with, how long we have been coaching, how many people we have coached, our professional affiliations, our credentials, our qualifications, our status in our community.

For leaders this might include my job title, my position in the organisation or on the leadership team, my previous work, my experience, my qualifications, my perceived expertise. As we label ourselves so we label others. Considering their appearance, their social status, their job role, their beliefs long before we allow ourselves to listen to them and hear what they are saying. So we separate ourselves – make a gap between ourselves and others.

I invite you to consider – is this the best practice for a coach or a leader? As coaches and leaders we understand something of the potential in everyone; we intend to serve others, or the team, or the world - by empowering others and partnering each and every other person to be the greatest they can be. Just as many of us understand that “the map is not the territory” (thank-you Alfred Korzybski and the concepts of NLP) we may come to an understanding that the collection of labels we assign to any person – including ourselves – is not accurate, merely offering a poor set of filters through which we view them from a great distance. Coaching supervision for coaches or for leaders who coach provides a strong opportunity to transform this element of our normal way of relating to others. And to create a safe, creative space for being human together as we become partners in discovering how to shift and transform our thinking and our practice.

The ICF Auckland 2016 Thrive conference offers one more place to consider this a little more for yourself. More on this coming soon…

Mary Britton
Contact me on with your feedback or thoughts.