How Coaching Supervision Supports Coach Maturity
Exploring the Coach Maturity Framework
Presented at the 28th EMCC Global Coaching, Mentoring, and Supervision Conference
by Frédérique Deschamps Meldem and Siobhán Cahalan
June 9th 2022
We are 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 complex topic.
Our curiosity lends itself to the broader concern of how coaching is perceived, received, acquired and utilised. Building and maintaining a culture of maturity provides our industry with an authentic and solid foundation with which we can build upon in unison, supporting the growth and transparency of a much needed pillar within society today and in the future.
In the context of coaching governance and oversight, there is no one better placed than the Coaching Supervisor to explore 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 paper, we propose a definition of Coach Maturity and to simplify a complex topic, we briefly explain and explore visuals seeking to give an overview of an inexhaustive summary of the potential elements.
We bring a set of provocative questions appropriate for the myriad stakeholders within the coaching community: Coaches, Coaching Clients, Coaching Sponsors, Coaching Supervisors, and Coaching Education and Training Providers. We will provide an opportunity and an additional lens to Coaching Supervisors for integration into conversations with supervisees.
This paper will help us to develop and understand the varying aspects of coach maturity, to understand where we are on the spectrum and to understand better our developmental needs going forward.
As coaches, it is our duty to know ourselves. The coaching industry is an unregulated industry. Coaching industry bodies such as EMCC work to build and maintain industry standards, creating a sense of harmony and uniting the members within the organisation.
Coaching Supervision supports that through offering a supportive, normative and formative space for the coach to reflect upon their practice and their development. Through delving into the aspects of Coach Maturity, we get to know ourselves better, we develop a more harmonious and authentic outlook as we lessen our doubts and inhibitions and support each other through reflecting on how to ‘show-up’ as a coach in a healthy relationship to oneself and to the client. By knowing oneself and by developing one’s maturity we reduce the fear of the other – the unknown and thus create bridges that go beyond the difference.
Contextualizing a framework for coach maturity offers us a common roadmap, a rich narrow path, a united approach and allowing our uniqueness and individuality. We will weave our path with greater certainty, knowing and confidence. We seek to experience with freedom the beauty of diversity of background and talents in a given frame, freedom within a frame, in light of the metaphor that it is the banks of the river that give the river the freedom to flow.
In Authentic Service of Coaching Stakeholders
The coach maturity framework seeks to recalibrate and make more conscious our offer of coaching. Through educating contributors and users, we hope to radiate an understanding of what qualities to seek in a ‘healthy’ coach. Exploratory/chemistry sessions are our opportunity to present our authentic selves without the gravity of a repetitive sales pitch coupled with a portfolio of social media feeds. We aim to impart responsibility to the purchaser of coaching to seek for healthy, genuine and sincere coaches.
Within this session, we bring to coaching education and training providers an opportunity to augment their offering through integrating and imparting the richness of what it is to be a mature coach. Creating this awareness presents the coach student with a basis with which to measure themselves and to identify areas of ongoing development, contributing to the building of a sustainable and strong coach environment.
Embracing the elements of coach maturity is what differentiates us from Artificial Intelligence (AI). Coach maturity is the art and science to dance with the invisible in an elegant and conscious way, to access and invent new pathways that may not be written in the books on our bookshelves. It finds it’s expression in an invisible, an intangible measure of how present we are, how well we listen, how we show-up at each moment – alone and in the company of others. Strengthening our maturity strengthens our presence and aura and allows with greater ease the process of flow between coach and client.
In this complex world full of distractions, how do we bring ease and grounded simplicity? How do we remove the perspective of requirements being a burden and imposed upon us and view industry body guidance as a gift to us – an invitation to grow in maturity and wellbeing and to renew the self?
With the impact of mechanical and distant living brought on by the pandemic, how can coaching support people to connect again in a living and loving way? How can supporting ourselves and others to be mature help to eliminate judgement, and bring the realisation that in our core, we are all the very same, coming in different tastes ‘varieties of the same’?
Our outlook is not one of standardisation but diversity and supporting coaches to explore the mystery of the unknown with a learners mind – curious, admiring and grateful rather than as a ‘knower’, fearful, hesitant.
We offer, therefore, a basket of questions to explore as we would thrillingly explore a picnic basket in a fresh, scented meadow on a warm summers day.
The questions are presented in service of the stakeholders, presented through myriad and varied lenses. The questions help the coach explore and self-evaluate where they see themselves on the maturity spectrum, what they know, how curious are they, what is the coach ‘posture’ – a knower or learner, how the coach views intellectual humility, how important a topic is coach maturity and how consistent and sustainable is it?
We offer a lens for purchasers of coaching. How ripe is your coach? How do you feel after a coaching session in your mind, in your heart, in your body, in your soul? How have you broadened, deepened, elevated yourself? What type of energy is flowing? How alive are you? What is the status of the life within you? What is the status of the fear within you? Are you in equilibrium or do you feel tense?
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.” Definition reference.
“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.” Definition reference.
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.” EMCC definition reference.
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, Siobhán proposes 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.” Definition reference.
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.
As a Coach, 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.
As a Coaching Client and Coaching Sponsor, we can hone our awareness of the elements of a mature coach, including the level of self-awareness of the coach. How important is it to you that the coach is self-aware? How can you gauge the level of self-awareness of the coach? During the ‘buying’ process, do you depend on written testimonials, written applications, referrals, face-to-face chemistry sessions? Which of these methods gives you greatest I sight into the self-awareness of the coach?
As a Coaching Education and Training Provider, we can encourage the ongoing development of coach’s emphasizing the importance of the different elements of coach maturity and how important it is to sustain. How can you encourage development of self-awareness of students and graduates? Can you evaluate it during the intake interviews with potential students? Imparting coaching skills is the backbone of your business, how can you augment the benefit of the skills by showing the coach how to ‘be’ – how to be a mature coach? How can the element of self-awareness be incorporated more comprehensively into the curriculum? As it is already a competence by both EMCC and ICF, it makes it easier to share the importance of it.
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 who 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.
As a Coach, 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.
As a Coaching Client and Coaching Sponsor, how important is knowing the values of the coach? Do their values influence our buying decisions? How important is it that they know their values? How important is it that we know exactly what their top three values are? Do we know, as clients what our top three values are? Is it important the values of the coach align with my values?
As a Coaching Education and Training Provider, it is generally part of the curriculum to explore values with coaching students in order that they can explore them with coachees. How can you make it more explicit that knowing their own values is crucial too? How can students and graduates be encouraged to fundamentally understand the connection between knowing their values and living their values? How can they be encouraged to look closely at their own lives in order to see where are their values out of sync with their choices and actions? How can awareness of their values support their commitment to being non-judgmental? How can they be encouraged to ‘walk the talk’ and live by their values, as they support their clients to do the same?
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.
As a Coach, 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.
As a Coaching Client and Coaching Sponsor, how important is it to you why the coach became a coach? What reasons would you like to hear? How will you evaluate the authenticity of the answer? How can you broach the topic of life purpose with the coach? How will their life purpose influence your buying decision?
As a Coaching Education and Training Provider, how do evaluate the intake of potential students? Is it based on their ability to pay the fees or based on their suitability to become a coach, their interest and their expression of their desire to ‘be’ a coach to fulfil part of their life purpose? How does undertaking the coaching course support their life purpose? What are their expectations upon completion of the course?
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.
As a Coach, 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?
As a Coaching Client and Coaching Sponsor, what is truth for us? Are we interested in knowing what the truth is? What is our definition of truth? If we look at our motives for taking on a coach, what are the real motives, the truth behind seeking a coach for ourselves or for our employees/partners/peers? How can you evaluate the truth of the coach?
As a Coaching Education and Training Provider, what is truth for you? How is your organisation aligned to the truth and pursuit of the truth? How is that message communicated top down to your students and stakeholders? How can students be encourages to discover their truth in order to become true ambassadors of the coaching industry?
“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.” Definition reference.
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.
As a Coach, 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.
As a Coaching Client and Coaching Sponsor, engaging an emotionally healthy coach is an important investment. We need a coach who shows up on time, takes care of themselves and most importantly who is fully present with the coachee. How can we identify the emotional health of a coach? Does it matter to us? Do we expect a high level of professionalism irrespective of how emotionally healthy the coach is?
As a Coaching Education and Training Provider, how much of your curriculum is dedicated to preparing the coach to be emotionally healthy? In fact, how much of the curriculum is dedicated to exploring the emotional health of the coachee? As part of the supervision built into the curriculum, can support be provided to those who may need it more? How is the student prepared for the life of a coach in the real world?
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.
As a Coach, 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.
As a Coaching Client and Coaching Sponsor, is it possible to identify wisdom in a coach? How can you identify it? By their talk? Actions? Aura? By meeting them face-to-face or looking up their online profile? How important is it for you to engage a wise coach?
As a Coaching Education and Training Provider, wisdom is not an easy thing to add to a curriculum. Yet, being transparent about what it is would support the building of it. Do do the students themselves define wisdom? How do they access theirs? How frequently do they access it? How can they access it more. Sharing this skill with your students will be a tool they will have for life, supporting their business and supporting the coaching industry.
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.
As a Coach, 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.
As a Coaching Client and Coaching Sponsor, what are your intentions in engaging a coach? How can you evaluate how the coach structures a session? What are the coaches intentions for contracting with you? What are the coaches intentions when meeting with a coachee?
As a Coaching Education and Training Provider, integrating setting intentions into the curriculum could be a useful tool to help the coach find balance and focus before meeting with a client. How do you communicate the importance of intention setting to your students?
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.
As a Coach, 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.
As a Coaching Client and Coaching Sponsor, do we take time to get to know the coach before ‘hiring’ them? Do we clearly see their behaviour? Do we have an idea of what behaviours we could like a coach to live by?
As a Coaching Education and Training Provider, through the embedded supervision in the course, behaviour of the coach could be evaluated. How is best practice behaviour modelled and communicated to the student? Are your students aware of what best practice behaviour is? And how to attain it?
This paper is offered as a gift to help you to develop and understand the varying aspects of coach maturity, to understand where you are on the spectrum and to understand your developmental needs going forward. How are you managing your own development as you support your client with theirs?
Coach Maturity is a substantial topic integrating a vast array of elements. Coaching Supervisors are in a great position to support the development of the coach – integrating it into conversations with supervisees and raising awareness of where these elements show up as client experiences are shared.
Seeing our behaviour through other stakeholder eyes broadens our view and empowers each one of us through a renewed understanding that we are in an interdependent system and what we do impacts and influences others and vice versa.
Coach Maturity – Questionnaire Scale
In service of:
- the coach as a self-evaluation and to bring to coaching supervisor for support in development areas
- the coaching supervisor as an aid to get to know the coach better and support further development
- the client when making the decision to engage a coach or coaching supervisor
- the education and training provider to integrate elements in curriculum
Elements Contributing to Coach Maturity
Graphic Illustrating the Dynamic Effect of Coach Maturity
“Our mature behaviour is the gift we give ourselves and others” (Siobhán Cahalan)
Copyright © 2022 Siobhán Cahalan and Frédérique Deschamps Meldem
Based on a Personal Enquiry Essay written by Siobhán Cahalan entitled “How Coaching Supervision supports Coach Maturity. Expounding the Virtues of Coach Maturity in Coaching Supervision”, December 6th 2021.
The right of Siobhán Cahalan and Frédérique Deschamps Meldem to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the authors, except in cases of brief quotations embodied in review articles. It may not be edited, amended, lent, resold, hired out, distributed or otherwise circulated, without the authors written permission.
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