‘Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom’
As coaches, we actively encourage our clients to reflect on their coaching journey and learning, and it is essential that we do the same and more for ourselves. The coach will only grow when they use their experiences, respond to the experiential information seeking insight and learning, and then in turn respond to the learning to change, develop and grow.
“Your most valuable asset in learning is your positive attitude”
So, what does it mean to reflect?
There are a number of ways of reflecting on coaching practice. On a basic level, we learn from something that doesn’t work, or when something goes wrong. From this, we consider a different method and do something different the next time.
Beyond this, we reflect in order to understand, taking time to reflect back on our words, actions and coaching competence, considering their impact and deciding which aspects are helpful and which are not, to seek the best method of responding in future.
A further step is to reflect analytically on why something happened, what part we as the coach played, what came from the client and anything else that had an influence on the situation. This last step takes a coach beyond the situation, to who they are in the coaching session and the influence they have had on it. This can mean examining beliefs, attitudes and values and their impact on behaviour in coaching. This may happen after the coaching experience or even during the session in real time.
How do we reflect?
There are many models and methods of reflecting both on and in practice. An important note to make here is that, as individuals, our preferences will differ and may change as we develop. Some of our options are:
- Reviewing practice through evaluative questionnaires
- Replaying/analysing recordings of sessions
- Session observation and feedback with reflection
- Reflective journaling and reflective learning logs
- Reflecting within one to one supervision or group/peer supervision
- ‘In the moment’ session reflection and response
Broadly, reflective practice can be self-led and/or supported, and will include a combination of facts, observations, actions, feelings and thoughts. What we do with this information is collate it, analyse it, question it, and make decisions about our response. By asking ourselves some simple questions before and after a coaching session, a coach can raise their self-awareness, consider options and approaches and their impact, and learn through revisiting the experience. Reflection during a session requires more skill and practice to stay focused on the client while paying attention to the other influences and the self in real time.
Reflecting Before coaching – take time before a session to reflect and consider your coaching practice and how previous coaching sessions have gone.
- How am I today?
- What might influence my coaching?
- What coaching outcome is needed for this session?
- Who am I coaching and what might I anticipate?
- How will I be flexible to the client’s needs?
- What is my coaching approach?
- How can I prepare?
Reflecting After coaching – taking time after a session, to reflect on coaching and the experience.
- What happened in the session?
- What did the client need from me as a coach?
- What did I see?
- What did I hear?
- What assumptions did I make?
- How well did I use my coaching competencies?
- What worked well and what was not successful?
- How might I have approach the session for a better outcome?
Reflecting During coaching – consciously paying attention to a variety of information from the client, self and the situation and using this information to shape the approach for the session as it is happening.
- What am I seeing and hearing?
- What else is there?
- How am I responding and reacting to information?
- What is the client experiencing?
- What is my energy like in this moment?
- What am I feeling?
- How do I use this information?
- What do I need to ask?
- What else is here?
Challenge yourself to review how you learn and reflect, and above all, enjoy the wisdom that comes, from continuing to know you.
Kirsty is an accredited coach and the founder of Coaching Direct, a Coach Training company that has received course recognition from AC. Their programme runs throughout the UK and has recently been launched in Dubai.
Kirsty was elected as Head of Membership Services and Support for AC in 2012 following on her contribution to the success of the AC conference in Edinburgh 2012 (where she is based). firstname.lastname@example.org