Expounding the Virtues of Coach Maturity in Coaching Supervision
I am curious as to what makes a mature coach. There are so many facets to it, personally and professionally, as well as the lifelong journey to this point, that make it a rather complicated topic. In this essay, I propose a definition of Coach Maturity and to simplify a complex topic have sought to create visuals giving an overview of an inexhaustive summary of the potential elements. In the context of Coaching Supervision, there is no one better placed than the Coaching Supervisor to investigate the topic of maturity with the coach, to enable insight and learning and hone the awareness and practice of elements that support it. In this text, which I have theoretically written for coach’s and Coaching Supervisors, I briefly explain each element, offer a thought-provoking question for the coach and some suggestions for the Coaching Supervisor in support of the coach.
What is maturity?
“In psychology, maturity is the ability to respond to the environment being aware of the correct time and location to behave and knowing when to act, according to the circumstances and the culture of the society one lives in. Adult development and maturity theories include the purpose in life concept, in which maturity emphasizes a clear comprehension of life’s purpose, directedness, and intentionality, which contributes to the feeling that life is meaningful.”
“Maturity is the behavioural expression of emotional health and wisdom. It is the capacity to know one’s own emotional experience, to be oriented by this experience to some aspect of the truth, to place this truth within the context of other truths, and finally to act in accordance with one’s values. Maturity—the alignment of our truth, our wisdom, and our values—is something we can cultivate.”
What is coaching?
“It is a professionally guided process that inspires clients to maximise their personal and professional potential. It is a structured, purposeful and transformational process, helping clients to see and test alternative ways for improvement of competence, decision making and enhancement of quality of life. Coach and Mentor and client work together in a partnering relationship on strictly confidential terms. In this relationship, clients are experts on the content & decision making level; the coach & mentor is an expert in professionally guiding the process.”
What is Coach Maturity? What is maturity in the coaching profession? How can a coach show maturity?
Combining the explanation of Maturity and Coaching outlined above, I propose the following definition for Coach Maturity.
Coach Maturity is the ability to guide an individual or group of individuals with a depth of self-awareness which enables knowing when and how to behave according to the circumstances and always orienting to the truth. The emotionally healthy coach, rooted in wisdom and knowing his/her life purpose, intentions, and values, is aided to support the coachee with discovering theirs.
What elements make up Coach Maturity?
Based on the definition, eight elements make up Coach Maturity. These are Self-awareness, Behaviour, Truth, Emotional Health, Wisdom, Life Purpose, Intentions and Values. Described graphically, self-awareness is the first layer in the journey towards coach maturity. From that flows knowledge of values, emotional health, knowledge of intentions, life purpose, wisdom and truth. Appropriate behaviour, knowing how and when to act, or do nothing, follows on from all of these.
Self-awareness is so vital to our roles as coaches that it is mentioned as a competence by both EMCC and ICF.
Self-awareness is an evolving state based on our commitment to personal and professional development in combination with reflective practice on our experiences and learnings gleaned. Tuning into our intuition and purity of self, offers the foundation. Knowing we are part of a system and how we integrate into that system, what role we play and how we play that role also gives us insight into who we are, what part we play and whether we add or subtract value in a systems setting.
How can we know how self-aware we are? How can we measure our self-awareness? Our passion to continuously strive to be self-aware is fuelled by persistence, resilience, strength and courage.
How do you define self-awareness?
On a scale of one to ten, how self-aware are you?
How can you become more self-aware?
As a Coaching Supervisor, we can work with the coach to gain insight into how they define self-awareness and how self-aware they believe they are. It may be useful to refer to it during a conversation about a client success or challenge and how it supported the session.
Values are said to drive our very being. If we work against our values, we feel agitated, resistant and feelings of guilt may arise. For some it may not be important to name their values, they work and behave consistently in line with who they are. For others, getting to the bottom of whom we are may require an investigation into what our driving values are. Valuing things such as independence, space, cooperation, loyalty, consistency, openness. How do these values show up in our coaching practice? Independence could have been a driver for becoming a coach and starting an independent business. Valuing space allows coaches to spend quiet time reflecting and pursuing development activities. Cooperation is the communion of collaboration we enter into with our coachees. Loyalty shows up when we demonstrate our commitment and are fully present for our coachee. Consistency builds trust which creates an open and safe space for the coachee to express themselves. Openness takes courage and demonstrating both allows the coachee to do the same.
What are your top three values?
On a scale of one to ten, how well are you living out your top three values?
How do these values show up in your coaching practice?
As a Coaching Supervisor, we can work with the coach to discover their values, to bring to their awareness to the top values and how congruent they live their lives and show up as a coach in line with them.
For many the profession of coaching is pursued after many years of gaining professional experience, for others it happens earlier as a calling and others are ‘born’ coaches. Whatever the reason for pursuing the life of being a coach it is important to identify with it and to understand if it is your life purpose and how it fits into your life purpose. What elements combine to make it a life purpose? Helping others to have a better life, supporting others to find their life purpose, supporting the coaching industry or/and integrating the skills seamlessly in your life so it becomes part of you. ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever’ (Steve Jobs). Having a vision is vitally important in order to do something each day that brings you closer to that vision, which brings meaning to each day, seeing the bigger picture slowly and mindfully being created. Equally important is reflecting on all you have done so far, and how the dots have joined as you glance back and see the golden thread woven into a coherent shape which you can now recognise.
On a scale of one to ten, how clear are you on your life purpose?
What is needed to help you get clear?
As a Coaching Supervisor, we can work with the coach to discover their life purpose, to understand the reason they became a coach and the reason they want to continue to be a coach and what is it that brings them meaning.
Truth is a mystery. How do we know, we know the truth? What is truth for you? How do we manage our definition of truth and align with the coachee and theirs? How do we know what is the truth for the coachee? Truth is invisible and what you feel. It evolves as its ingredients come and go, as information is added or taken away, as stable or insecure as you are in that particular moment. Truth is acknowledging and accepting our strengths and who we are. Truth helps clear the fog, to get clear, to be in a place of neutrality and non-judgment and solid in our presence.
On a scale of one to ten, how clear are you on your definition of truth?
What is needed to help you get clear?
As a Coaching Supervisor, we can work with the coach to discover what is truth for them, do they live it, how is it applied in their practice, how do they work with the truth of the person in front of them?
“Emotional health is about how we think and feel. It is about our sense of wellbeing, our ability to cope with life events and how we acknowledge our own emotions as well as those of others.”
Our duty as coaches, to ourselves and others, is to strive to be in a healthy state of mind. This is made up of many aspects including how physically well we feel, our energy levels, our diet and lifestyle, our exercise habits, our relaxation, our space, our sleep, our environment. Being in a perfect state all the time is generally not achievable, which is why it is so important to find ones balance before having a meeting with a coachee, to show up neutral and non-judgemental and to be fully present with them. Reflecting after a coaching session helps to alleviate concerns and highlight the things you did well and this supports a healthier frame of mind.
On a scale of one to ten, how often do you find yourself recalibrating to your preferred place of emotional wellbeing?
How can you remain in that place more often, for longer periods of time?
As a Coaching Supervisor, we can work with the coach to define their definition of emotional wellbeing and how they can strive to have it present more often than not.
Wisdom is innate. It is ancient, yet new. It is within each one of us. It is about accessing it. It is a combination of intuition, lessons learned from experiences and tuning into the present moment and what is being channelled through us. Wisdom feels like having two feet firmly planted in the ground while the head is in the sky. It is invisible and can be expressed in many different forms. As coaches, how do we access our wisdom? And how do we support the coachee to access their wisdom? It is not necessary for us to demonstrate our wisdom but it is necessary to let our wisdom guide us. Wisdom grows as we evolve and grow and consolidate all we have learned and experienced forming the growth into our unique expression.
On a scale of one to ten, how often do you feel wise?
How can you allow yourself to be guided by your innate wisdom?
As a Coaching Supervisor, we can work with the coach to recognise and access their innate wisdom, to allow themselves to be guided by it and in turn, support their coachee to do the same.
Intention setting is a useful way to be connected with the reason you are in a particular situation and to bring strength and structure to a meet-up. As a coach, setting intentions for how you would like your day to be, to setting an intention before each meet-up with a coachee can eliminate lack of direction and bring clarity and honed guidance to the session. Setting intentions can help development of your leadership and management skills and show your commitment to the other person by maintaining effective time management and appropriate momentum during the session.
On a scale of one to ten, how does intention setting support guiding your coaching sessions?
How useful would it be to integrate intention setting more in your life?
As a Coaching Supervisor, we can work with the coach to set meaningful and relevant intentions based on the particular circumstances they are in, while allowing the coachee to own the content and outcomes.
Self-awareness, values, emotional health, intentions, life purpose, wisdom and truth all feed into how we show up as coaches and how much value we provide to our coachee. Our behaviour is driven by a perfect balance of all these elements integrating together – how we act, how we look, what we say, how we listen, how our body language is. Appropriately using or not using frameworks, tools, models is part of what we bring with us to the session and may or may not support us in our ideal behaviour. If tools, models are used as a crutch, they can be inappropriate and cause distraction and obstruction. If used gracefully and appropriately, they can enhance our behaviour as they flow seamlessly from us and elevate the coachee to a new place of insight.
What is your ideal behaviour?
On a scale of one to ten, how consistent is your ideal behaviour in coaching sessions?
How can you show up more with your ideal behaviour?
As a Coaching Supervisor, we can work with the coach to define what ideal behaviour means to them, help them to see how they behave now, evaluate the value of that behaviour and make consistent changes with added awareness.
This is but a tip of the iceberg and there is so much more that could be added. I found the writing of this essay a great official start to my thinking and writing about this. I would like to see myself integrating it into my conversations with supervisees, to begin by becoming aware of where these elements show up as they share their experiences with me. Coach Maturity is a substantial topic integrating a vast array of elements, and I would like to think I will develop this document as it is a topic that would contribute to the coaching industry, and Coaching Supervisors are in the greatest position to support that. This paper helped me to develop and understand the varying aspects of coach maturity, to understand where I am on the spectrum and to understand my developmental needs going forward.
Siobhán Cahalan, founder of Wisdom and Vision Ltd., is an executive coach and coaching supervisor with a particular interest in encouraging best practice governance, supporting CEO’s and senior leaders with executive governance. Siobhán has over 20 years’ experience in managing global processes and leading global teams in varied business environments in a number of different countries. Siobhán is also a trainer, writer and group facilitator. www.siobhancahalan.com