Coaching The Coach

One of the courses that we offer is an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) qualification in Coaching and Mentoring.  This course requires people to do 12 hours of documented coaching, to reflect on that coaching and to review your own development as a coach.  Like with many things in life one can learn a lot about coaching in a classroom environment and we tend to learn as much when we go out and put our learning into practice.  So how does a coach learn more about coaching whilst coaching?  There are many ways, client feedback, client results, self-reflection, and coaching supervision.  Let’s look at each one in turn.

Client Feedback

Particularly for a new coach, from the outset of the coaching relationship, establish with the client that you will ask them for feedback at the end of your coaching programme.  You could use a standardised form or simply ask for freeform feedback.  When you get the feedback from the client, before you go through it, put yourself into a confident and self-assured state, such that if the feedback includes negative surprises for you then you can deal with them more effectively.  Then as you read the feedback, take it on board and consider it in the context of your experience as a coach, what you learned in the classroom and against what your own perspective of the coaching that you delivered.  If you think you need to make improvements then commit yourself to doing so.

Client Results

There are few things in coaching more satisfying than the results that your clients achieve.  In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) we think “that the most important information about someone is their behaviour”.  If a client doesn’t think that they changed but their behaviour changed in the direction that they said they wanted, then in my book they changed.  As a coach you have the paradox of knowing that the client is in charge of their results, not you; but nevertheless they are seeing you for coaching so that they can improve their results, which they can by working with you.  This means that if the client gets the results they wanted, the coaching was effective, even if it could have been better, and if the client doesn’t get results, then it doesn’t actually mean that the coaching wasn’t effective either.  So one must be realistic and cautious when assessing one’s performance as a coach based on the client’s results. It is also entirely possible for a client to be a client because they want to prove that they cannot change.  It is rare, but it is possible.


Together with the two means of improving your performance mentioned above, self-reflection is essential, not matter what stage your coaching career is at.  As a coach you have many tools and techniques at your disposal, you do not have to use all of them all the time.  What is important is that you are utilising the basic skills required of a coach all the time, and that you match your available tool kit against the client’s needs.  I would recommend that at the end of every session you consider “What went well?” “What could I improve upon for next time?” “What did I learn about me and my coaching?” Self-reflection does require that one is self-aware and that one really does embody the NLP belief that “There is no failure only feedback” when assessing one’s own performance.


The word “supervision”, by itself, can bring up fairly negative ideas in the minds of some coaches.  We can imagine that there is a boss figure looking over our shoulders, telling us what we did wrong.  Both as a new coach and as an experienced coach it is possible to learn and grow in one’s coaching practice by having a mentor or supervisor who can be someone to bounce ideas off, or discuss a challenging client with, or someone who sits in on a session, or listens to recorded sessions and gives you feedback.  After all one of the advantages of coaching for a client is that the coach creates a space for the client to see things about their current situation that they would not have otherwise noticed.  A mentor or supervisor can fulfil the same role for the coach about their coaching.

As a coach set out with the intention of being excellent, of being the best you can be; because that is what you want for your clients, therefore it should be something that you strive for in your own life and your coaching practice too.  Put yourself on that path, seek out and integrate feedback whilst at the same time recognise that any feedback is true for the person delivering it and represents their perspective, valuable though that is, that is just what it is.

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first and the lesson afterwards” Abraham Lincoln

Ewan Mochrie
Ewan Mochrie
Co-founder and lead NLP Master Trainer at Inspire 360. Ewan has been training students from across the globe since 2005 in NLP, Hypnotherapy, Time Lime Therapy & Coaching. Ewan is one of only 12 NLP Master Trainers for the ABNLP worldwide.
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