I have just completed the first part of a coaching leader programme that builds over four months and includes an academically recognised accreditation. It's targeted at people who are either line managers or who work with line managers and its purpose is to develop coaching practice beyond what's normally expected from shorter skills development courses.
Alongside the other things that I write about here, I am going to use this blog to share some of my learning reflections.
Practise to improve practice
First, there is lots of practise all of which is done using real issues generated by the participants. No role plays, no actors, just practise in real time to develop practice, supported by observation and feedback from participants and the faculty.
Manager as coach
Second, the programme is called the Coaching Leader Programme. However, what I noticed in the first module is the emphasis on coaching practice as if coaching was mutually exclusive from management. I struggled with this to start with as I wanted the connection to the everyday work of managers to be more explicit from the off. Having spent more time practising and reflecting on my own coaching practice, what I'm noticing is the importance of taking a step back first to test out what it is I already know and have always been doing and to get feedback on the impact of what I am doing. My interest in the connections with managerial work will follow as an continuing inquiry and topic within this blog.
Write down to write up
Third, participants are expected to make lots of notes as a continuous process of noticing, capturing and sensing learning. In my experience the value of this step cannot be overstated. What's encouraging is that the write up of the learning is mainly to be about personal reflections of practice and supported by theories and models, rather than the other way around.
A tip I picked up from one of the faculty on my masters course was that before you can write something up you have to write it down. Continuous note-taking from readings, observation, practise is critical. What works for me is to keep noticing what it is that I am paying attention to and making notes in a little black book.
To quote Michelangelo, I am still learning. My personal inquiry through the process I'm now following is to make sense of the role of manager as coach. It's not that I see these concepts as incompatible but there are some important differences. Central to this is the distinction between somebody who operates as a coach who is external to the organisation and a line manager who must combine this with a direct role in the performance outcomes of the member of staff.
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