CoachingExcellence

January 1, 2017
Dear Coach,

Welcome to my Blog. Here you'll find essays I've written about coaching. Some of the questions I'm exploring are (1) What makes coaching work? (2) What helps coaches do their work well? (3) How do coaches continue to be masters of their profession? and (4) What the heck are those ICF coaching competencies, anyway?

My passion is helping coaches to be their best, so they can bring the best of coaching to their clients.

There's something here for all coaches, at all levels of experience. I’ll bet you'll learn something new, find a new perspective to consider, or just encounter a new way to say what you already know from experience. It’s all good, and (probably) good for you, too! .
You're welcome to browse - I'm sure you'll find something that resonates with your experience. You can also search on Categories and Tags for specific topics.

If you find something that you enjoy, please share with your colleagues and friends, and copy the link so you can find it again. Leave a comment if you’d like. You just might spur a new essay about something I’ve learned from you!

It's my privilege to offer my thoughts on coaching.. Enjoy your reading!

Sue McLeod, PCC

What? Me Worry?

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I’m a worrier.

In the back of my mind there’s a constant stream of worries. big and small - about family members, business, and clients. I worry about what’s on my to-do list, what I’ve forgotten to put on my to-do list, and how I’m going to everything done. My worries are small (what to make for dinner) and large (how my favorite team will fare in the big game) and global (what’s going on with the global economy).

My moment of acute self-awareness about the degree of my worrying was when I noticed that I was worried that I wasn’t worried enough. Doesn’t that sound a little over the top?

I’m not the only coach who worries.

I’ve heard from many of you “If the coaching police could hear my coaching, I’d be arrested!”. Although a bit overstated, this captures an underlying worry that we’ve strayed from “pure coaching” (or coaching the way we were taught or the way we think ICF expects us to) and wandered into the territory of advice-giving, letting the client talk too much, or other perceived “sins” of coaching.

(For example, see my Blog Post “Am I Coaching or Something Else?” for a my thoughts on crossing the line from coaching to consulting.)

Worrying about things beyond my control wastes energy. While I can don my lucky hat for the big game, there’s not much I can really do to help my team win.

For things that are within my control, I’ve learned to sit with the worry and consider if there is some truth lurking underneath. Maybe there is something I am being called to do. When I’m worried about a family member, I can (at a minimum) reach out to them and make a connection. When I’m worried about my do-to list, I can spend thoughtful time clarifying and prioritizing. And when I’m worried about what’s going on in my community, it’s time to take action.

When you are worried about your coaching, what is calling for your attention? How will you know what needs to be addressed?

Students in my Coaching Master Class bring their worries and find clarity from our work with the competency model. One student was concerned that she didn’t know how to use Direct Communication. As we explored that competency, she discovered that she was using Direct Communication effectively - she just didn’t know it. She could put that worry aside. Other students find things they aren’t doing as well as they could. They discover they really are doing more telling than asking, or they skip the agreement setting or forget to nail down actions. Through our conversations, they turn that worry into a learning intention. By the end of the class, they have new coaching moves and feel more skilled and confident.

What are your worries about your coaching? Move from worry to clarity by looking more closely at your competencies and find where you can let go of the worry, or shift into learning.

The Coaching Master Class is designed facilitate this type of reflection, with the added bonus of being with experienced coaches as partners for your learning. I bring my experience as a coach, trainer, and assessor to keep us aligned to the coaching competencies.

Sue, There’s something magical that happens when people get together in the learning environment you create. So, on one level, there is this ethereal feeling of camaraderie. But then there's another level where I'm getting real, practical information and help on what to do to be a better coach. My notebook is full of new questions to ask my clients. Kelly Kienzle, PCC

Are you ready to transform your worries into better coaching skills and more confidence? Join the Coaching Master Class starting on March 12.

  • 18 Core Competency, CEU, including 3 hours of Ethics.
  • Small group, interactive learning.
  • Eight (8) on-line webinars between March 12 and August 6, 2018
  • More details including class schedule HERE
  • Save $150 by registering before March 2.

If you're not ready for a class, Mentor Coaching is a “personal trainer” approach to improving your coaching. We’ll get to the evidence from listening to recordings of your coaching, make some grounded assessments based on my knowledge of the competencies, and find powerful ways for you to shift your coaching and your confidence.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested.

With gratitude for the student and client who teach me so much!

Sue

(I remember the line "What? Me Worry?"   from Mad Magazine's Alfred E Newman. Here's a link if you're curious https://www.madmagazine.com/blog/2012/12/19/totally-mad-excerpt-who-is-alfred-e-neuman)

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Smooth the Rocky Edges of Your Coaching

Join the Coaching Master Class 

It’s Summer!

Boots and Coreopsis

I’m sitting on my deck enjoying the flowers (ignoring the weeds), listening to the ocean waves crash against the rocky shore (no sandy beaches here), and hoping that the wind doesn’t change direction and bring the odor of the decomposing whale that washed up on a nearby island into my idyllic morning.  Summer in Maine is lovely, but far from perfect.

And neither is our coaching. We all have some rocky areas, weeds among the masterful coaching moves, and a few bad habits lurking close by that could stink things up a little.

Is that enough of the rotting whale story? (It’s true, by the way…)

If you have questions about where your coaching might be less than ideal, or want to talk about those bad habits that you're no longer willing to ignore, I invite you to join the Coaching Master Class.

I’ve been so pleased at how experienced coaches who join the Master Class love returning to a safe learning community. We share rich conversations about our coaching, and learn from our collective experiences. Within the framework of coaching competencies, even experienced coaches have new insights into how they can serve their clients better.

Here’s what one Master Class Alumna shared with me recently about how this course impacted her:

There’s something magical that happens when people get together in the learning environment you create. So, on one level, there is this ethereal feeling of camaraderie. But then there's another level where I'm getting real, practical information and help on what to do to be a better coach. My notebook is full of new questions to ask my clients. Kelly Kienzle, PCC

I have a deep belief in both the power of sticking to and reinforcing the basic moves of coaching and being in community with fellow coaches. If this appeals to you, I hope you will consider signing up. 

You can REGISTER HERE.

In Gratitude,

Sue

P.S. Students who register early will save $150 on their Master Class investment. (Sweet, right?!) Since I save time in planning the sooner I have my class roster set, I like to pass those savings along to my students.

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What will you Start, Stop and Continue to Become a Better Coach?

Awareness - that window into what’s working and what’s not - is the foundation for change. 

 
The coaching profession values learning. In fact, coaching is all about learning. Our clients learn about themselves and howthey relate to the world. They learn new approaches to their challenges, either through new attitudes or behaviors. They learn to be more aware of the world around them and what’s happening inside of them.
 
It makes sense that coaches should be continuing their own learning, increasing their awareness and learning new approaches to their coaching and their relationships with clients.
 
Many consultants, facilitators, and coaches I know use the START/STOP/CONTINUE model to define how the future should be different than the past. They ask “What do you know to do that you want to START doing in the future? What are you doing now that doesn’t work that you want to STOP? What is still working that you want to CONTINUE?”
 
I think it’s useful to use this model when thinking about your own learning and how to improve your coaching.
 
What do you know about your coaching that is working well? How can you CONTINUE to do these things with confidence?
 
What do you know about your coaching that is just not working – for you or the client? How can you STOP doing those things in the future?
 
And where do you feel you have deficiencies? It could be things that you know you should be doing, but aren’t. Or you’re facing situations or clients that you’re not sure how to handle, and need new skills or approaches to feel more capable. What do you need to START to handle these better?
 
Before you answer these questions, take a minute to reflect. Do you know enough about your coaching to make good decisions about what to START/STOP/CONTINUE?
 
From my experience, it’s hard for coaches, on their own, to objectively view their own coaching. They have questions rather than clarity about whether what they are doing is working. So they are unsure whether to STOP or CONTINUE.
 
Their clients are happy and telling them the coaching is great, and they don’t have another way to tell is something is missing. It’s hard to START something to fill a gap when they’re not even aware of the gap.
 
Awareness, that window into what’s working and what’s not, is the foundation for change. Equally important is a model of coaching that sets a standard of what’s effective. Looking at your coaching (with an learners eye) against a model (that you believe in), you can start to understand what you can Start/Stop/Continue to become a better coach.
 
It’s further complicated when you consider that how well you coach depends on what you do and how you “be” while you’re coaching. Your technique might be fine, but your “being” might affect your ability to listen to and hear your client’s emotions or energy. Or you might have a connected and supportive way of “being”, but forget to challenging your client, or holding them accountable.
 
When was the last time you honestly reflected on your coaching against what you were taught? When was the last time you recorded a coaching session and listened carefully to see if you are using all of the coaching competencies? When was the last time someone you respected as an experienced coach listened to your coaching and gave you feedback?
 
Isn’t it time you made a serious commitment to START/STOP/CONTINUE for the sake of you coaching and your clients?
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A Safe and Courageous Space for Coaches

This lace shawl was made possible by my friend and knitting expert (Cheryl) who steps in to help with any of my challenges. She creates a safe and courageous space on my journey to knitting mastery!

In my coach training with CTI, I remember learning the "new" idea of creating a safe and courageous space for our clients. I immediately realized that the “space” in my workplace was neither safe nor courageous. Not that is was dangerous, mind you. But it was an environment where you didn’t want to rock the boat too much and you certainly couldn’t show any weakness or uncertainty.  Moving up in the organization required a great deal of either courage or naiveté, because you were on your own to figure out how to do the new job, without ever admitting to uncertainties or asking too many questions.
 
Many gatherings of coaches feel that way to me, too. They are a places to put your best foot forward, to talk about how much work you have, mention the high-profile clients you’re working with (with permission, of course), and retell stories of your coaching triumphs.  I find myself holding back from these conversations, because the conversation I really want to have includes revealing the challenges and struggles we’re having as coaches.  
 
I want a safe and courageous space to talk about our coaching.
 
The Coaching Master Class (formerly the PCC Master Class) is such a space. Students who’ve completed the program have appreciated the level of honesty they can bring as they share their personal challenges. They’ve found a space of non-judgement and exploration. And they challenge themselves and each other to address those challenges head-on by practicing new coaching moves with their clients.
 
Class highlights
  • Small class size (maximum of 5 students)
  • 18 Core Competency CEUs, 0.5 Resource Development CEUs, 3 Ethics CEUs
  • 8 tele-classes for lecture and discussion
  • Homework assignments to deepen your learning
  • $1,450.00 class fee
 
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Watch your coaching grow!

Spring has finally arrived in Maine and the gardens are planted. Now we watch, weed, and water to support the new growth that will soon (we hope!) be reaching towards the sun.

 
If you’re ready to spend some time  watering, weeding, and watching your coaching grow, consider joining my Coaching Master Class. It’s perfect for ACC’s reaching towards becoming a PCC.  It’s also perfect for PCC’s reaching to be more mindful and masterful in their coaching.
 
Join the Coaching Master Class to
 
  • Dig into the ICF expectations of a masterful PCC level coach
  • Turn over and examine your own coaching in a confidential and supportive group of peers
  • Weed out the bad habits you’ve been tolerating
  • Sow the seeds for being the best coach you can be

 

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Coach, Are you an Innocent Bystander? or a Passive Enabler?

You know that feeling when you're coaching. Your client is doing what they always do. Maybe they talk a lot and never really get to the point. Maybe they "I don't know" a lot and deflect all invitations to explore new paths. And, since you've been here before, you let them do what they do, feeling powerless and "skill-less" to change the course of the conversation. 

 



You're an innocent bystander to your client.

Innocent because it's not your fault (it's the client's fault). Bystander because you're on the sidelines watching and listening, and being a little bit of a victim, too.

This term came to me in a Master Class session I was leading on Establishing the Coaching Agreement. We were discussing challenges with clients who are difficult to pin down, who can't seem to focus on what they want from the coaching, who only want to talk about what's already happened, and who never come to the coaching session with a topic in mind.

Listening to these stories led me to reflect on my own coaching. Of course, I have clients like this, too.  With reflection, I had an epiphany - I've been taking the role of "innocent bystander" with clients who don't come to the session with a clear topic, ready for coaching.

I'm now reframing.

When I pull back from the coaching conversation and blame the client, I'm not really "innocent". In fact, you could say I'm guilty. Guilty of not being a full partner, of not owning my responsibility to lead the coaching session to be a purposeful conversation.

I'm also not a bystander! My presence and actions with my client have an impact, always! By letting them ramble on, I'm enabling them to continue their default patterns of thinking, reinforcing their stories and assessments of how life is for them, and accepting the lack of focus and forward movement this is probably not working for them in other parts of their life.

From "innocent bystander" to "guilty enabler" - there's a powerful reframe! It's a wake-up call for me and I'm mindful now as I work with clients, students and colleagues to return to the core of coaching - my role is to be a partner, to support the client to "do/be what they don't want to do/be, in order to have the life they want." which mean I sometimes have to do what I don't want to do, or say what I don't want to say.

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Fulfill the Vision of Your Coaching - Join the Coaching Master Class

 

In my spare time, I'm a knitter.  You'll usually find me with knitting needles in my hands and visions of my next knitting project in my head.  As an amateur, my visions don't always appear from the yarn in my hands. But the fun thing about knitting is that it can be unraveled back to where it started - just a ball of yarn...

Every once in a while, I create something that aligns with my original vision. This sweater is one example. Just what I imaged and the young girl who received it, loved it!

In my professional life as a coach, I also created something that aligned with my vision - The PCC Master Class.  I call it my "little class" because it's designed for little groups of coaches (less than 5) who are ready to have conversations about the little details that are the foundations for masterful coaching. Topics like what's in your coaching agreements, what wording changes can shift your questions to be more curious, and what thinking can shift your clients to full partners in the coaching.

Little changes that come from intimate conversations about our coaching and big shifts that come from our collective commitment to be the best we can be.

Here's what some of the recent student have to say…

The Results
 
I feel like I have a more focused approach to my coaching sessions as a result of this course.  I have a clearer picture of the ICF PCC competencies and feel like I have a better grasp of them practically rather than just theoretically. 
 
Each competency reviewed and discussed led me to deeper insights and practical considerations. My notebook is full.
 
Every session resulted in a practical reflection of my own work and new ideas for subsequent coaching sessions/practices
 
The Learning Environment
 
An open and spacious environment for discussions was a true gift.
 
I truly enjoy being in conversation with fellow coaches who are thoughtful about their work.
 
The Instructor
 
Our instructor was so well prepared and willing to draw upon the expertise of others to complement her own. 
 
Sue adapted to whatever her learner's needs were, and freely shared her own growing edges and distinctions.
 
Sue, you do a great job facilitating conversation and creating an effective learning environment.  The fact that you join in the exercises and continue your own learning really adds depth to the experience.
 
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ICFNE Maine Affiliate Program Summary - Mentor Coaching

It was a night of the full moon - both a Harvest Moon and a Super Moon, at that.  With the energy shift that moves us from August’s relaxation to September’s hustle we kicked off the second year of ICFNE Maine affiliate programs with Mentor Coaching.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The mission of the Maine affiliate of ICFNE is to create a community that fosters our learning, building the reputation of coaching in Maine, and supports us in building our businesses. To support that mission, the program was designed to be interactive and draw on the experiences and wisdom of the participants.

.... I was totally impressed with the level of engagement, trust, and support demonstrated by this learning community ... (SG)

I’m passionate about Mentor Coaching as a valuable tool for developing our coaching skills. I also want to bring clarity about Mentor Coaching so that coaches can be informed “consumers” of this valuable service, and that experienced coaches know what it means to be an effective Mentor Coach.

...Sue's workshop illustrated the power of mentor coaching in my own professional development in a hands on, real time manner.  It was structured, organized and high impact.  ... (JE)

The ICF’s definition of Mentor Coaching is “coaching on your coaching”. After small group discussions on what it means to be a mentor, we reviewed the Georgetown University Mentor Coaching Model, which says that a Mentor Coach is an expert in coaching and a partner focused on developing coaching skills.  There are similarities to coaching and there are differences.
...Sue McLeod's presentation clarified the importance of mentoring to developing and sustaining the quality of my coaching... (JC)
Mentor Coaching begins with establishing your goals for development. Next, the Mentor Coach provides feedback on your coaching, and then engages in a coaching conversation focused on developing your coaching skills.  
The feedback is based on the Mentor Coach observing your coaching, assessing what they see and hear against a standard of coaching (such as the ICF Core Coaching Competencies), and providing feedback in a way that you can hear and understand.
The Mentor Coach then engages you in a coaching conversation that explores the feedback, looks for opportunities for new awareness about your coaching - including identifying habits and blind spots such as avoiding emotions or skipping over designing specific and measurable actions.
...Mentor coaching targeted areas for my development and offered improvement strategies that were spot on.  I want more!!!... (JE)
 After discussing the model, we moved on to demonstrations and practice.  Like coaching itself, the best way to learn about Mentor Coaching is to experience it!
We used the new ICF PCC Level Competency Markers as the basis for assessing the coaching.  Participants found the markers to be easy to understand and observe as they watched a coaching conversation. They were also humbled by how difficult it is to capture everything that’s happening as they prepared for giving feedback.  
...I want to thank you for such a rich program you presented on mentor coaching.  It was enlightening! It made me step back and think about my coaching and how I follow (or not) the core competencies.  I've been coaching for 11 years and it's so easy to forget!  I am now committed to taking one competency and practicing  the skills for 2 weeks and then moving on to another one... (DB)
After a demonstration of a mentor coaching conversation, we broke into triads for everyone to have the opportunity to be a part of a Mentor Coaching session. The room was energized as coaches coached clients and mentors observed. Then it was the mentor’s turn to try his/her hand at a mentor coach conversation. We finished up with a little feedback to the mentor coach. 
... As a result of the program, I will now be more intentional about how I elicit feedback and mentoring on my coaching ...  (SG)
Everyone was gracious and courageous in jumping in to try mentor coaching, and came away with a deeper appreciation for Mentor Coaching, Coaching and the community of coaches that we share.
...The interactive exercises enabled me to connect with and observe other coaches and appreciate the impact of good coaching... (JC)

Thank you to ICFNE Maine affiliate for the opportunity to present this program. And a special thank you to Susan Gallant, Janet Eastmen, Deb Bergeron and Janice Cohen for allowing me to include their comments in this blog post.

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Transforming Judgement into Learning

 

It’s way too nice today to work inside, so I’m on the deck, squinting to see my laptop screen through the glare, moving around for the optimal position relative to the sun, the shade and the breeze.
 

It’s worth the trouble!
 

It reminds me of my college days here in Maine. 

In the spring, when the weather was finally warm enough to be outside without shivering, we’d convince the professors into holding class outside. We were often surprised how little convincing that took, although now I’m sure they had cabin fever as badly as the students! 

 
Outside, sitting on the library lawn, we couldn’t hear very well, taking notes was a challenge and there were a lot of distractions! But the feeling of the sun on our faces and a warm wind at our backs for an extra hour was heaven!
 

For the last two weeks, I’ve been working on coaching assessments. In case you don’t know, this means listening to recordings of coaching for the PCC level competencies and finding a few points of feedback to give to the coach.  I’ve been doing this for years, and I still find it a challenge.  It’s sacred space to hold someone’s work in your hands (or ears, in this case) with the intention to pass judgement on whether it’s ‘good enough”.  It’s a delicate thing to find feedback that will speak to someone who is probably most concerned about the results of that judgement. And it’s a challenge for me, with my math brain and desire to find yes/no answers to the question “is this coaching good enough?”.   How do I listen to the words the coach is using, tune into to the relationship the coaching is building, and be witness to the choices he makes as he navigates the complex and delicate paths of a coaching conversation.
 
It is my continuing, never-ending it seems, learning edge as an assessor and mentor coach. 

How do I manage the impacts of judgement while opening the door to learning?  

How can both of these feel like that Maine spring-time sun - invigorating, humbling, and renewing all at the same time?

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Coaching Presence: Are you with your client right NOW!

A Mentor Coaching Story


I was listening to a coaching recording, getting ready to give the coach feedback to support his development as a coach. “So far, so good”, I thought. Bob (not his real name) was asking open-ended and curious questions, he and the client were working on a clear coaching topic, and he seemed fully engaged in the conversation. 

As I continued listening, I noticed a subtle shift in Bob’s coaching. At the beginning, he seemed slightly behind the client, asking questions about what she had said a few seconds earlier and missing what she had just said. Not a big concern, but I started to be curious.  A little later, he was very connected to the client and focused on what she was sharing in the moment.  “Better”, I thought, but now I was curious to know what had changed for the coach.  In the last section, as the conversation shifted to designing action, Bob’s coaching shifted again. Now he was ahead of the client, expressing his ideas for her future and pushing her forward, while she was still clearly pondering the present moment and exploring what she was learning. 

 
 
Now I was truly curious - not about the client - but about the coach. What was going on  to cause Bob’s focus to shift so dramatically as the coaching conversation progressed?
 

When was the last time someone listened to your coaching
with curiosity
about you? 
 
When we coach, we’re in a private conversation with the client. All the focus is on the client.  So who is paying attention to the coach? Who is listening objectively, being curious about the choices the coach is making, and noticing patterns or subtle shifts in the coach’s language, emotions, and presence?
 
Without that objective view, how can we learn what we’re doing well, what we’re missing, and how we can continue to improve our coaching?  Relying on our client isn’t enough. Remember our clients aren’t experts in coaching. Relying on our own impressions of our coaching isn’t enough. We all have blind spots and selective memory.  And even additional coach training isn’t always enough. New knowledge about coaching or adding new coaching tools doesn’t always help us improve our day-to-day coaching.
 
Mentor Coaching fills that role. As defined by the ICF, Mentor Coaching is coaching on your coaching, based on actual recordings of you coaching a real client.  Your mentor coach listens to your coaching, makes note of what you’re doing well, and notices opportunities you missed, and patterns and habits you’ve developed. Then, in a coach-like conversation, gives you feedback and helps you to see where and how you can improve your coaching.
 

I like to think of a Mentor Coach as your “personal trainer”. Your Mentor Coach stands besides you, watching and listening, reminding you to do your best, encouraging you try something new, exploring what you need to push beyond your self-imposed limits.
 

Oh - and what about Bob?  In our Mentor Coaching discussion, I shared what I had noticed and we talked about what was happening for him during that session. At the beginning of the session, he was taking notes and this caused him to lag behind the client. In the middle, he relaxed and stopped taking notes.  Without thepen in his hand, he connected to the client and what she was saying. Near the end, he got excited about what was possible for his client. He disconnected and tried to pull her into his vision of the future. After our conversation, he saw that he could be a better coach by putting away the pen and paper, and setting aside his own excitement to stay connected to the client.  “Ahhh. Much better”, I thought.

 

If you're ready to look closely at your coaching, Mentor Coaching might be just right for you. Learn more here.

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Can I get that for Free?

My daughter has enticed me to try “extreme coupon” shopping. For those of you not familiar, extreme couponers buy items that are on sale and have two or more coupons or rebates, looking for items that can be purchased for 70% or more off of the regular price.  Of course, the ultimate goal is .... FREE!
Here’s an example of how it works:
 
 Rite-Aid is selling a brand of baby aspirin for $2.00 and offering a $1.00 rebate credited to your Rite-Aid Wellness card. In the newspaper, there’s a coupon for $1.00 off that same brand.  Final price???  Free!
 
A side effect of buying aspirin, toothpaste and shampoo this way is I frequently ask “Is there a way to get that for Free???” when making any purchase.
 
You're in luck!   I’ve found a Free deal for coaches who are renewing their credential.
 
Free Continuing Coach Education Units (CCEUs)
 
Self-Study CCEUs allow you to do your own studying, at your own pace, focused on what you want to learn. For Free!
 
Here’s how they work.
 
Do an activity, such as reading, writing, or research related to coaching. Track your time. Write a summary of what you did and how it contributed to your development as a coach.  Include your time and this information in your recertification application as Self-Study CCEUs.
 
That’s it!
 
Quantities are limited and some restrictions apply.
 
Up to 16 Resource Development CCEUs can be Self-Study.
They can not be used for Core Competency CCEUs
 
You cannot count time spent coaching, mentoring or supervising as Self-Study.
 
The Fine Print.

 Just like the shopping deals that change every week, the ICF changes the rules and requirements every so often!  I encourage all ICF coaches to double check the requirements a few months before they’re ready to renew.  Here’s the website to bookmark!  Individual Credentialing Renewal

Enjoy!
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A Season of Renewal for Your Coaching

It’s been a long winter!


Here in Maine, we’ve been shoveling snow and dealing with below freezing temps since December. I know from my friends along the East Coast and in the Midwest that it’s been a tough all over. Never ending snow, ice, cold, and cancellations. It’s hard to believe that spring is on it’s way!

One of the delights of my winter has been the PCC Master Class. There are three sessions in progress, each with just a few participants. I’ve been delighted by the level of commitment the students have shown to the process. They are willing to focus in on a specific competency and wrestle with what it means, what they are doing well, and where they need to improve. They share their coaching stories including their struggles and uncertainties - the moments that they’re not so proud of in their coaching. They learn from each other’s experiences and questions. And they design their own assignments to observe themselves more closely, and try new coaching moves.

I’ve witnessed each student grounding her knowledge, increasing her confidence, and deepening her awareness of what it means to be a masterful coach.

And, now, spring is coming. The birds are returning to the Maine landscape. The ice on the rivers is breaking up and flowing out to sea. The snow is melting, revealing the ground from which our summer grass and flowers will emerge.

It’s the perfect season to spruce up your coaching.

 

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The road to mastery (or at least, to being more masterful than I am right now!)

What does it take to continue towards mastery?

I finished my coach training over 12 years ago. I've been a PCC for 10 years and since then have given feedback and support to many coaching students. And, of course, I've coached a lot too. A good training program, and lots of on-the-job training - and you'd think I could consider myself a master at my trade.

However, I've found that just doing the work of a coach, without close examination of what I'm doing and why, without upgrading my understanding of what good coaching should be, without honest feedback and support, doesn't really lead to mastery. It leads to experience, yes. But without that edge of continual improvement, deepening awareness, and the struggle inherent in moving beyond my limitations to new levels of performance, that experience doesn't always lead to better coaching.

So, I've gone back to basics and created a program I call PCC Master Class (now the Coaching Master Class). I offer it for others to participate in - and I've enrolled myself as well. So I'm not the all-knowing instructor, but a peer on the same journey of discovery and challenge.

The Coaching Master Class is based on an assumption that we've had a good foundation in what great coaching can be, and we have enough tools to use in our coaching conversations. So it's not about learning to coach.

The ICF Coaching Competencies give us a road map for both the "being" and "doing" of a coach. The PCC Master Class takes us into those competencies for the PCC level, and asks us to reexamine our understanding and use of them with our clients.

There's class discussion and then field work - which can include research and writing, observing a coaching demonstration, or examining your own coaching. We learn together, asking the questions that are on our minds now, using our collective experience and wisdom to seek the answers.

Class 1 was about Ethics and Professional Standards. I came away from that class is a deeper understanding of the underpinnings of our Code of Ethics, and a better way to evaluate those situations that just don't feel quite right so see what action is the best to take.

I'm excited to see what will develop as we dig deeper into each of the competencies in this journey to mastery.

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