Research Paper By Alok Mehta
(Transformational Coach, INDIA)
Baby Steps in the Coaching Journey – Infancy to Adolescence
There are many ways to write a case study. For sure, a case study will be in the form of a narrative. However, the location from which you write a case study will differ and will also determine the essence of the offering.
Most case studies that I have read are from a witness location ie: the author has witnessed the events, and has built a compelling narrative around them. I chose to also take the witness location, but with a difference. The difference being that I wish to be the subject and the witness. Thus, I am coining a term; ‘live witness’. A ‘live witness’, in my mind, is that subject who is the protagonist and the witness, simultaneously. In other words, I am witnessing myself from a height and making my observations of the process that I saw myself going through.
This is about a participant who is attending a program as part of his credentialing process for PCC. Besides the various learning modules, there were supervised coaching sessions where he had to be the coach. This case study focuses on 3 supervised sessions, where the protagonist was the Coach. The idea is to follow this particular participant through his coaching sessions (3) and note his progress; how through each successive session, he learns and grows.
The First Session
It happened to be the first session that this group was doing via a SKYPE video call. So there were many first’s attached; first formal supervised session for this participant, first coaching session via a video call, first coaching session for this participant with 30 eyeballs peering down with all their curiosity!
The coach began with a very confident greeting and also spent a few minutes uplifting the energy levels of the client by asking a few uplifting questions. He then quickly rounded the Contracting segment by reinforcing the confidentiality clause. While the client responded to the big issue (issue at large) that was bothering him, the coach missed out on getting the client to define the desired Outcome for this particular session. And thus, by not getting the outcome defined, the issue at large became the focus for the session.
The coach appeared quite involved with the client and listened very actively and with empathy. However, as there was no clearly defined outcome for this session, there was no direct precision in the conversations. At times, therefore, the session got too transactional without exploring the underlying emotions and feelings. There was evidence of the Coach working on some assumptions and judgment, rather than focusing on the present leading by curiosity.
The coach received some positive feedback from the supervisor and peer group alike; viz: “Brilliant natural style”, “warm, comforting, patient presence”. The coach was left with much to chew as regards the effectiveness of the session.
If I were to plot this session against the 11 ICF competencies, they would stack up as follows:
|ICF Competency||Deployed at Session #1||Remarks|
|Meeting ethical guidelines & professional standards||YES|
|Establishing the Coaching agreement||NO|
|Establishing trust & intimacy with the client||YES|
|Coaching Presence||Partially *||Instead of backing his gut, coach was working on some assumption & judgment|
|Powerful Questioning||Partially *||The questions were powerful, however, were a bit transactional & not precise to bring out the underlying emotions & feelings|
|Direct Communication||Partially *||Could not state the coaching agenda well, as outcome for session was not defined.|
|Planning & Goal Setting||NO|
|Managing Progress & Accountability||NO|
The Second Session
Our coach had witnessed a few other supervised sessions, and was learning vicariously too! He had been having a few peer coaching sessions aswell (excluding the supervised coaching sessions).
As the session began, the coach was well aware of the process to follow; he ensured what he had done right in the first session was not forgotten ie: he greeted optimistically and asked what went well over the last month, ensured the confidentiality clause was well understood. Learning from previous sessions, he also ensured that he spent good time on getting the client to define the outcome for the session. He was listening well and was acknowledging the client’s reality, tone and manner. He was also mirroring the client well. The power of powerful questioning was evident as the client was often in a reflective and thoughtful silence. The coach did not breach this silence.
It was all going well up until the point the coach realized that time was running out. And he was left with very little time for action planning, goal setting and fixing accountability.
Thus the process was followed; however, the coach got carried away in exploring the underlying emotions and feelings. So even after establishing the outcome for the session and also reaching that outcome, client and coach could not articulate specific follow up goals and accountability.
Competency deployment matrix of session # 2
|ICF Competency||Deployed at Session #1||Remarks (session # 1)||Deployed at Session # 2|
|Meeting ethical guidelines & professional standards||YES||YES|
|Establishing the Coaching agreement||NO||YES|
|Establishing trust & intimacy with the client||YES||YES|
|Coaching Presence||Partially *||Instead of backing his gut, coach was working on some assumption & judgment||YES|
|Powerful Questioning||Partially *||The questions were powerful, however, a bit transactional and not precise to bring out the underlying emotions & feelings||YES|
|Direct Communication||Partially *||Could not state the coaching agenda well, as outcome for session was not defined.||YES|
|Planning & Goal Setting||NO||NO|
|Managing Progress & Accountability||NO||NO|
The Third Session
Now with many more peer coaching sessions under his belt, and also having witnessed many other supervised coaching sessions, this coach seemed pretty confident and was looking forward to this session.
He followed the 3C’s of Contract, Communicate and Conclude seamlessly, and with ease. It appeared like a very well oiled conversation, touching the 11 ICF competencies like a musician playing a flute. There was breadth and depth in the conversation. And as the conversation went to deeper levels, with sharp & powerful questions, the client was willing to explore emotions with the confidence built on trust and integrity that was so beautifully established between coach and client. Silence was also used to good effect, and that brought about deeper thinking and emotive responses from the client. The coach noticed that the client was quite like the coach ie: liked to wander around and was shy of making any commitments. The coach challenged this behavior and was also able to get the client to set goals, create action plans with timelines, and also fix accountabilities. He was willing to set up a support system to enable meeting the set goals.
Competency deployment matrix of session # 2
|ICF Competency||Deployed at Session #1||Remarks (session # 1)||Deployed at Session # 2||Deployed at Session # 2|
|Meeting ethical guidelines & professional standards||YES||YES||YES|
|Establishing the Coaching agreement||NO||YES||YES|
|Establishing trust & intimacy with the client||YES||YES||YES|
|Coaching Presence||Partially *||Instead of backing his gut, coach was working on some assumption & judgment||YES||YES|
|Powerful Questioning||Partially *||The questions were powerful, however, a bit transactional and not precise to bring out the underlying emotions & feelings||YES||YES|
|Direct Communication||Partially *||Could not state the coaching agenda well, as outcome for session was not defined.||YES||YES|
|Planning & Goal Setting||NO||NO||YES|
|Managing Progress & Accountability||NO||NO||YES|
The coach got very positive feedback from all the peers as also the supervisor. One statement that stood out; “would love to have you as my coach for life”…..
A few questions for Coaches to reflect:
- What struggle of the coach are you in touch with?
- Can you recount your first few coaching sessions?
- Do you have an internal coaching dialogue with yourself?
Coaching is a journey; as much for the client as for the coach. While the coach has to be mindful of the process to be followed and internalize the ICF competencies so to make them his own, it is very important for the coach to stay sensitive.
What do I mean by ‘Stay Sensitive’?
- Besides being with the client through all the coaching sessions, it is imperative for the coach to be sensitive unto himself too. He should be aware of what is happening to him.
- While I have talked about quintessence of the client in my coaching model, it is important for the coach to keep learning, though not at the cost of his own quintessence. This quintessence makes him the unique coach; this quintessence keeps the coaching process alive.
- Not get complacent and ‘Oh, I know it all’. This could take away the life from the richness of a coaching relationship. (besides raising the issue of whether he was working with integrity towards the process and client)
- Be in touch with your humanness while you play the role of a coach. Nothing touches the other like being an authentic human being.
Our coach has begun the journey; from Infancy to Adolescence. Adulthood will come with experience and continued sensitivity unto client and himself.