As coaches, we sometimes end up ploughing a lone furrow in our attempts to help individuals, teams and organisations to develop and improve.
Speaking from experience, this isolation can be a little unnerving and often frustrating. The thoughts that have previously entered my mind include:
Am I using the right approach?
What could I have done better?
Should I have done more?
What approach would someone else in my place use?
In complex situations, especially in an organisational setting, it is not always possible to know the best way forward, and if there are no other coaches around to validate your approach then what should you do?
Perhaps supervision is the answer?
Hearing the word supervision perhaps conjures up visions of some kind of authority figure who directs your every move. However, studying for PG Certificate in Personal and Business Coaching with Barefoot Coaching has helped me to understand what supervision is in a coaching context and the benefit it brings.
The International Coach Federation describes supervision in this way:
“…reflective dialogue and collaborative learning for the development and benefit of the coach and his or her clients… the purpose of coach supervision is to support the coach’s professional, personal and coaching practice’s health and wellbeing…[and] to ensure the clients of the supervisee are also well supported and receive the best possible coaching experience…” 
Supervision has been used extensively by therapists for many years and is in fact required in clinical environments. It is seen as essential for developing self-awareness and in knowing personal boundaries between the therapist and the patient.
Brigid Proctor, a renowned counsellor and authority on supervision, describes 3 functions that need to be addressed within supervision. 
Normative – ensuring the standards of the coaching
Formative – helping the coach to grow
Restorative – supporting the coach through doubts, insecurities and so on
Supervision can take many forms including individual supervision, group supervision and peer supervision. Regarding who can provide supervision, the ICF says:
“… Coach supervisors, although peers, are typically more experienced coaches and therefore can provide mentoring and training as part of supervision which is a way of supporting the supervisee to be continually developing themselves professionally…”
Coaching supervision seems to be used more widely outside of Agile Coach circles, and even the most experienced coaches undertake regular supervision sessions. Kim Morgan, Director of Barefoot Coaching, consistently shares her experiences of supervision and the benefits it still brings to her.
Supervision can help you work through your thought processes, develop your coaching capability, challenge any limiting beliefs and assumptions, and champion you when you need it. 
The benefits of supervision are far more than just validating that you made good decisions in your day to day coaching and it is perhaps something that should be considered by more coaches in our industry.
I am fortunate that I have some friends and colleagues who are also coaches that I can use for advice, but I will also be looking to undertake some formal supervision, not only to talk through areas of doubt but primarily to make sure that I continue to develop and grow as a coach.
If you are an Agile Coach, we’d love to hear your experiences of supervision and the benefits it may have bought you.
 International Coach Federation https://www.coachfederation.org.uk/professional-development/coach-supervision/
 Based on the course material from Barefoot Coaching Ltd. https://www.barefootcoaching.co.uk/courses/pgcert-business-and-personal-coaching
 More can be read about Kim Morgan’s thoughts on supervision in this article that she co-authored with Geoff Watts, a renowned Scrum and leadership coach. https://coachfederation.org/blog/index.php/4075/
Feature image on homepage courtesy of Brida Anderson. Used under creative commons license.