Seven top tips for coaches: working interdependently

Earlier this year, in the “before times”, I started offering supervision for coaches.  I have been reflecting on a conversation with a prospective client from around that time. She spoke about building her coaching practice and feeling isolated – and this was before the C-19 crisis took hold!

Much of our conversation reminded me of how I felt launching my consulting, coaching and facilitation practice six years ago.  How those feelings of “not knowing” left me feeling isolated and yet fiercely determined to make it work “on my own”. I have just now launched my new supervision website in the middle of the pandemic and I am feeling those isolation sensations again.

There is a paradox here – like many people, I have a strong need to be independent and yet know I need others to succeed. We all need others to succeed, especially in these challenging, socially distanced times.

That was then

I recall earlier in my career, before I became self-employed – when I was a senior manager in financial services – the company I worked for selected me for an executive development programme. This involved being psychoanalysed by a renowned management guru. Among other juicy insights, he told me I had an “independent/dependent conflict”.

Wow!

Apparently this means I tend to throw myself into things and work dependently on having others around me (classic Extravert), and then I tend to disappear and behave fiercely independently for long periods. At that time, this manifested as time for me for self-reflection, and I often withdrew in meetings, choosing not to contribute (classic Introvert). It is no wonder psychometric reports such as MBTI often showed me on the border between Introversion an Extraversion. It turns out I am high on both, which cancel each other out when simple averaging is used to produce a personality report.

This is now

That was twenty years ago and I have made a lot of progress. However, I still need to work on reconciling this conflict, so I take it into supervision and to my coach. Recently, as the C-19 crisis took hold, I found myself withdrawing again, feeling discouraged and annoyed at the many self-serving “offers” of help on social media – from personal wellbeing to digital marketing in a pandemic. My suspicion is that many of these offers were not authentically trying to be helpful, but instead were self-aggrandising attempts at self-promotion aimed at confused and worried people. They were taking advantage of the crisis to attempt to prop up their businesses. I do not know about you, however I do feel these types of posts have diminished, and that better thought out, more authentic articles have begun to emerge.

Early on in the crisis, I even found myself withdrawing from professional groups to which I belong. These are the groups to which we must hold on: they are authentically helpful. Thankfully, I have found the time to reflect, re-connect with my purpose and re-energise my efforts to support others in these challenging times.

Coaches need support in these challenging times

And so, I am launching the website and my offer – professional supervision for coaches, delivered remotely (this was always the intention btw), with a blend of individual and group sessions, tailored to your coaching practice and offered at great value-for money (from £40 per month, no VAT).

Have a browse around my website and let me know what you think.

In the meantime, here are my musings on interdependence and how as coaches we can use it…

I find the guidance on Interdependence by Stephen R. Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) particularly helpful.

I cannot summarise the entire chapter Covey gives to working interdependently; however I can pull out some top tips that have helped me in my coaching practice.

Seven top tips for coaches

  1. There are no problems, only opportunities to help others build their own capability to find their own solutions
  2. Techniques are not enough – the desire to help others by working interdependently must be authentically embedded into your character
  3. Take time to understand others – discover what is important to them and then attend to the little things that make deposits in their emotional bank account
  4. Give others psychological airtime. Empathic listening requires you to rephrase the content and reflect the emotion
  5. When contracting, look for win-win outcomes. The next best alternative is often no-deal. This requires courage and consideration for others
  6. It is not a zero-sum game. Seek a third way, a middle way, a higher way
  7. Seek first to understand, and then to be understood. A colleague of mine used to say, have strong ideas, and yet hold them lightly. Be prepared to be influenced as well as to influence.

Coaching is an interdependent relationship, a working alliance with your client and the system in which they are working.

The relationship with your supervisor parallels this working alliance – an opportunity to work interdependently, to find a safe space and time to reflect on your practice, to sharpen it so you serve your clients better and to grow into the coach you want to be.

Message me directly to find out more about supervision, or click here to book a complimentary review of your coaching practice.

Jeremy Lewis

Grow the Coach – affordable, professional supervision that grows with your coaching practice

An earlier version of this article was published in the before times on LinkedIn on January 21, 2020.

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