Hope you’ve been enjoying Helen’s TCD community Zoom calls during lockdown. The one on coach supervision prompted this question about lifeguarding being a possible metaphor for coach supervision.

The idea is a little frivolous perhaps, inviting an initial answer of  ‘no’. (e.g. possible response to lifeguards’ typical age and informality of dress!)

Yet replace lifeguard with the RNLI and deeper meaning emerges. The RNLI takes responsibility for protecting UK beaches and has raised concerns about beach use during lockdown. In my view coach supervisors align themselves with the coaching profession and aim to protect coaches and clients, possibly other stakeholders of coaching relationships too. (See here for my view that coach supervision is broader than coaching for coaches.)

Coaches typically take themselves to coach supervision, which aligns very much with raising an SOS to which the RNLI would respond. Other people may also encourage coach supervision which aligns with others raising the alarm on the beach.

Lifeguards have particular expertise and some people use the term Super-Vision expecting coach supervisors to ‘see’ more.  I’d be the sort of lifeguard who also wants to train others life-guarding skills, because my coach supervision groups invite coaches to elevate their observations towards what they expect of supervision. We collaborate in ‘seeing’, which brings more value as we all ‘see’ different things that enrich the conversation. This develops our capabilities and possibly our readiness for 1:1 coach supervision.

Finally I like to challenge people on their identity as a coach; I’m sure that lifeguards and RNLI seek to do the same for swimmers, sailors and other users of our waters.

Shirley Thompson straddles coach supervision, project management and Agile interests aiming to support those who use coaching skills in a variety of circumstances.