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Self-coaching for self-care Part 2

Recently I was asked to deliver a webinar on entitled ‘Self-coaching for self-care’ to an audience of staff working in the health and social care sector in Scotland. To get my thinking in some sort of order I did some writing that helped me to bring to life my understanding of both self-coaching and self-care and whether the former might indeed support in being better at the latter. Even by my standards the length of my writing turned out to be rather long! It was like one of those times when you start work, look up two hours later, and find that you have several pages of tightly printed prose in front of you! Better than a blank page! Anyway, I have decided to break it into two parts which I will offer to you separately. The first was about self-care, this second is about growing the reach of coaching and how self-coaching might contribute to this. This writing does not constitute a script but it certainly did help me put my thoughts in order so I was able to deliver something worthwhile to a wonderful community of health and social care professionals.

If you did not get to read Part 1 you can find it through this link.

Growing the reach of coaching

I’m a professional coach on a bit of a mission. I want to make sure that the benefits of coaching reach more widely than they do at the moment. I want to continue to ensure that coaching value is experienced by those already in leadership positions and I want to coach people who are yet to become leaders. Those at the end of the formal education, at the beginning of their careers, or at the point of taking on their first team member. The benefits of a good coaching partnership can be diverse, its impact profound. The word cloud below captures the impact noted by my clients in Alpamayo Coaching Ltd. It’s the diversity and profundity that always stands out for me in this list.

Scaling of coaching is certainly happening by virtue of so many more people coaching these days. This is good news for sharing the benefits of coaching more widely although I would add a note of caution in your selection of a coach. Check out both their professional background and their coaching credentials. If the are not recognised by a professional body that examines the standard their coaching practice you might want to think carefully if they are right for you.

Another change in coaching provision is the move towards digital rather than face-to-face (F2F) coaching. A personal interest in the use of technology as an enabler to coaching was something that brought me into the orbit of Know You More (KYM). I enjoyed their mission to harness technology as a means of bringing together coach and client in a partnership facilitated digitally while being built through a very human connection. I have written elsewhere about my experiences of digital coaching and how powerful it can be so will not repeat that here. What the digital approach does in terms of scaling coaching is clear. People have been able engage with my coaching through digital means when physical co-location is not a practical or cost-effective option.

Many coaches and coaching organisations were on a journey towards doing more digital coaching before the onset of COVID-19. The virus has clearly accelerated that journey by virtue of removing the possibility of F2F coaching pretty much entirely! What coaches and their clients can now reflect on based on current experience is just how different F2F and digital coaching. They undoubtedly both have their merits but maybe being starved of the F2F option we can be clearer about when one option offers benefits over another. One possible challenge about an only digitaI connection world are the unknown consequences of virtual connection fatigue?!

More coaches and easier digital access to them certainly makes coaching more available. It’s not quite what I am about though. My ideal is that everyone engages with coaching as I believe that we all have the capability to do a little bit of coaching for ourselves. Likewise, we all have the potential to adopt a coaching approach in our interactions with each other. Having explored self-coaching and supported others in trusting dialogue we may then be in a position of getting the most from working with a professional coach. That’s what I call scaling up and I capture my sense of it under the heading of ‘Thinking about your Thinking (TAYT)’, summarised in the graphic below.

TAYT is based on the belief that all of us to have some capacity to self-coach if we are supported by some light touch awareness raising and accessible resources. We all have the capacity to challenge and support each other in what I call ‘peer coaching’ in the graphic but which might be more effectively described as a ‘coaching style conversation with a trusted other’. Support for this is about growing awareness of what a coaching approach looks like within small and large organisations. Alongside training the most important element of this is the consistent and public role modelling of a coaching approach by all those in leadership positions in contact with all their stakeholder groups. Everyone does that though, right?!