Coaching Supervision Story – Richard Taylor

How did you first hear about us?

I first came across The Conversation Company through a mutual colleague that I have with Rachel. When I was in corporate employment I was thinking about setting up my own business as a coach and I knew that I would need supervision.

Somebody I was talking to at work had come across Rachel Robins when they were both doing their Doctorate, and he recommended that I get in contact with Rachel. He said she was so brilliant at what she does, is highly experienced and was also very interested in the work that I was doing. So he introduced us – that must be nearly 2.5-3 years ago now. I’ve come quite a way and I can only thank Derrick for that connection.

What type of support were you looking for?

I was very conscious when I was starting as a coach that I had never done that type of work professionally before, but I had done a lot of it on an ad-hoc basis as part of a corporate environment. Just, I had never been out there on my own. Whilst I was getting qualified I also knew that from my own coaching experience all good coaches always have a supervisor. I was very keen from the outset that I would have a professional supervisor that would help guide, steer and support me on that journey. I was very clear that there would be times where I would need to take the work I was doing to someone else; just to check in that I was being appropriate, that I was using the right interventions, that I wasn’t missing something.

What was your first conversation with us like?

I remember my first conversation with Rachel very clearly. We had set up a call just so that we could get to know each other and really it was a chemistry session. Neither one of us held the other one to account or had high expectations nor any expectation that we would definitely work with each other. We both recognised it would be important to just check in with each other to make sure that we had similar values, a similar philosophical approach to coaching and that our styles were mutually compatible.

I have to say the chemistry was fantastic! I enjoyed the lightness with which Rachel presented herself and her line of enquiry with me was totally non-threatening. It felt very supportive and yet I could also see that there was a steely backbone to Rachel and that she wasn’t necessarily going to let me off the hook. So that was great, and she was very generous. She sent me a lot of material and a lot of background information, she didn’t put me under any pressure at all to work with her.

"I Had Spoken To Other Potential Supervisors, But I Knew From That Very First Conversation. It Was Rachel That I Wanted To Work With."

I felt at the end of the conversation quite energised. And probably a little bit relieved!

If I am honest – I was concerned that either a supervisor would be quite tough on me, very demanding and make me possibly feel inadequate… Now, that is just a personal fear that I had and was my own neurosis – there was no truth in it. But in talking to Rachel and being able to identify with her and understand that we have been on similar journeys, along with how grounded she was and how real she was… I just felt hugely reassured and very encouraged! I could see that there was somebody who I could work with, who I also thought could support me and I had a lot of confidence around that. It felt really good.


How was Coaching Supervision useful for you?

I’d go so far as to say that Coaching Supervision is fundamental, it is not just useful and it is critically important. I think the best way I can describe how helpful it is for me is recognising that coaching is quite a delicate balance. If you want to encourage somebody to learn and to find their own discoveries and create their own insights… you have to walk a very fine line between making an intervention, offering up an opinion or drawing upon your own experience as you that you think you might know what is best for this client. That line you have to tread very carefully between making an intervention and not making an intervention, knowing when to create space, knowing when to sit happily with silence. What I found, certainly in the early days, is that what I was taking to Rachel as my supervisor was whether I thought I had made too much of an intervention with a particular client, whether I had been too quick to offer a view, whether I had seen a solution and I had jumped in there too quickly… those were my concerns and I think there was reality around that.

I think I was, certainly in the early days, inclined to do that and Rachel was very good at getting me to reflect on the options, the choices, and just checking in with myself… whether I was being a bit pleased with myself because I had been able to offer up a positive solution? And therefore had that coaching been as much about me as the third person? Really important to keep that all in check and the discipline that comes with that is quite tough so that I where I think I found the sessions most helpful.

What were some of the outcomes of your investment in Coaching Supervision?

I do see supervision as an investment because I think there is a huge return for me to gain in that there are things like in Rachel’s case she will offer me new ways of thinking, latest thoughts that are being published either through blogs or books or online forums she will guide me to… all stuff that it is easy to overlook or ignore or just become a bit stale at as you are just working on your own so that has been really helpful but I have also had some specific clients where I think I might have been a bit lost or stuck myself where my supervisor has just been able to help to gently rock me out of that place and give me ideas to then pursue. I remember a particular client who was almost paralysed in his lack of confidence and he had been very successful, top of his game and worked in a global environment but had been subjected to a bit of an assault on his capabilities by other people, one person in particular and had had a real crisis of confidence to the point where when I was coaching him it was almost difficult to get any response out of him he really was in a very difficult position.

I had to take this client back to the supervisor on more than one occasion just to check in that I was being appropriate, I was being professional and I was doing the right thing myself, that my suggestions were right and that I wasn’t out of my depth. I think the thing learned most was that I had to have the courage of my conviction and that on occasion it is right that you make an intervention or make a suggestion because if people are locked or stuck then they need to be helped out of that position. For that client, my supervision was really really important.

Would you engage a Coach Supervisor again?

I am very committed to having a supervisor. I think it is really necessary, so as long as I am coaching I will have a supervisor. Whether that is Rachel from The Conversation Company, somebody else from The Conversation Company, or somebody else entirely… I don’t know! But I think it is really important and I am very happy with the supervisor that I have.

What do you think was the biggest change for you as a result of your coaching conversations with us?

If I think about the impact that supervision has had on me, I liken it very much to the impact that I am trying to have on my coachees / my clients. An observation I would make around the work that I do is that more often than not you are helping somebody find their confidence, toward being really satisfied with who they are, how they present themselves, having the confidence to voice their own views and to project those opinions. It is so much about confidence and I have gained huge confidence knowing that I am on the right track, that I am adopting the right approaches, that I have got access to the latest thinking and I have got someone that I can share my thoughts with.

My confidence has blossomed to such an extent that I don’t question it now. When I go into a coaching environment whether that is someone that I have never met before, somebody who works in an industry environment or a discipline that I have never come across, or indeed whether they are not British and English isn’t their first language… Those things that would have worried me before, just don’t anymore and I know if there are any hiccups I can return to my supervisor with confidence. It is absolutely about feeling my own sense of worth as a coach which is the biggest change it has made.