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Who coaches the coaches? by Clare Manning

This week is ICF’s International Coaching Week and it’s a great opportunity to celebrate & discuss coaching. So, each weekday I’ll be hosting blogs from a variety of authors exploring an aspect of coaching. Watch out for these posts here & on Twitter #coachingblogs.

The topic for today is “Who coaches the coaches?” which has been suggested by the lovely Barbara Thompson (@caribthompson).

This post has been written by Clare Manning (@manningclare) – I hope you enjoy it!

Who coaches the coaches?


Now then, i’m going to interpret this question as how do we as coaches ensure constant, ongoing self development as practitioners?

Well, in my view this is where coaching really comes into its own as we can self coach, co-coach, join coaching action learning sets, be in supervision, undertake ongoing CPD and more… In this blog, I will reflect on the first three of these.

Let’s start with self coaching. It’s fair to say I enjoy grappling with limiting beliefs, cajoling negative thoughts and shining a light on any fears I may have. I feel as if a transformation is underway. It may take some time and that’s just fine by me. Self coaching feels like good way to climb slowly but surely up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with your sights set on self actualisation and whatever that may bring. It’s also fair to say that I like to have tried out any tools and techniques that catch my eye before I introduce them to clients. So I guess i’m my own guinea pig in this regard.

And when you hit a barrier or find yourself mulling over an ethical issue you can bring the issue to a co-coaching, action learning set or supervision session.

I have a co-coach and our sessions have moved over time to become ‘thinking partner’ sessions (see Nancy Kline’s concept in Time to Think) where we give each other 30 – 45 mins to think out loud and see where those thoughts end up. Maybe this approach isn’t for everyone but as a reflective learner I value it immensely. I get to work things through with a mixture of self coaching and timely, powerful input from my co-coach. Sometimes, I don’t think i’ve really got anything to work through (and I often see this with clients who have been coached for a while) but once you give your mind permission to release whatever it chooses – there is always something rich to work with.

Our coaching action learning set is very useful too. Each of us is effectively coached by 3 people at once which is really beneficial in terms of making progress with your issue and experiencing 3 different coaching styles which you can learn from and then adjust your own practice accordingly. There is a strong sense of support and challenge in these sessions which makes you feel you’ve looked at an issue from a multitude of angles and dealt deeply with anything that emerges. It’s a powerful learning process.

So, who coaches the coaches? Well, I think we all experience and receive coaching in many different forms, developing ourselves and our professional practice as we wind our way. Are we likely to take our eye off the ball? Not really, in my view. It’s compelling stuff and i’m sure we all self coach whether we realise it or not…

Your views on a postcard please!

Clare Manning (@manningclare)


3 thoughts on “Who coaches the coaches? by Clare Manning

  1. Hi Clare – thanks so much for writing this piece. It’s lovely to hear someone sharing their developmental practice using “Thinking Partner” sessions. I’m big fan of Nancy Kline yet it’s surprising how few people use these very simply powerful processes/techniques.

    I have to confess I’ve slightly missed out in recent years on coaching action learning sets (outside of supervision groups) so something for me to take action on! Thanks for the unintended prompt 🙂


    P.S. It’s lovely being able to read/comment on another professionals’ writing here on the blog!


    Posted by David Goddin | May 20, 2013, 1:57 PM
    • Hi David
      I love Nancy Klines work and find it an inspiration. Especially how such a simple technique can have such a dramatic effect. We should spread the word!
      Thanks for curating this week. It feels like an online open space and I’m enjoying it.
      Enjoy your action learning set …


      Posted by Clare Manning | May 21, 2013, 9:13 PM


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