SYSTEMIC COACH SUPERVISION and HYPERVISION F.A.Q.
Frequently Asked Questions About Executive and Team Coach Systemic Supervision and Hypervision

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For the past decades and in a growing number of “relationship” professions, individual and group mentoring and supervision have been central and very practical processes for ensuring continuing education, competency development and quality control. First in psychotherapy, then in other personal development professions and now in professional executive coaching, supervision has gradually become a central and integral part of the development and transformational process for professionals. 

Coaching supervision offers a performing learning and mentoring environment in which life coaches, executive coaches and team coaches can question the quality level of their professional skill set, experience continuous training, explore ethical positioning, etc.  To underline their professionalism and sometimes to reassure their clients, some executive and team coaches now publicize their mentoring or coaching supervision commitment by mentioning it in their marketing documents. 

A growing number of professional associations for coaches, coaching schools, and executive or team coaching clients ask and sometimes demand that their members, graduate students, and coaching purveyors be actively engaged in a coach supervision or mentoring process.  Some may even ask about the rhythm of that coach supervision and ask for a certificate of attendance from supervisor.

Self-defeating effects of such a systematic demand for coach supervision can be perceived when we find that some participants in an executive or team coaching supervision or mentoring process are passively present to obtain what appears to be an almost automatic validation of their quality level and personal concern for continuing education. Consequently, the generalized obligation to prove that one is following a coach supervision process may ultimately replace a real and active personal motivation to work on one’s professional development and quality. Unfortunately, in some executive, team  and organizational coaching environments, the danger of that pernicious shift in coach supervision objectives is already perceptible.

The second negative effect on the executive and team coach-training coach supervision market concerns the possibility of a sudden multiplication of questionable individual and group coach supervision or mentoring products and services. Indeed, one can sometimes wonder at the real value of a number of offers on what appears to be a fast growing coach supervision niche market.  We are sometimes also facing budding executive and team coaches who strategically offer a coach supervision or coach mentoring service in order to position themselves as advanced or masterful coaches on the executive coaching market.

Following an initial training coach-training program to acquire coaching skills in the first place, however, a good supervision process, is probably the most effective way for coaches to develop their professionalism.  In fact, in the same way that swimming skills develop by swimming, coaches mostly develop their skills by actively engaging with their clients, again and again.  Much more active, real learning is acquired inn the field than in school settings.  Supervision is a process that is tailored to accompany thies practical learning.  In a sense, supervision is simply a way to ensure that coaches really learn more from their field experience and from their real clients than from thoretical classroom concepts and intellectual principles.  Supervision is probably the best way to practically learn how to coach, to improve the use of a minimal existing  skill set, to use field experience to grow one's professionalism, to gain in confidence, to get validation byan experienced supervision environment, to prepare to pass certification in validating institutions, etc.

But not all supervision processes are equal nor can their comparative results be comparable.  In the form of F.A.Q.(Frequently Asked Questions), the text below offers a few insights on a number of different and complementary coach supervision processes. It attempts to answer questions that could or should be asked by existing or potential coach supervision clients, questions asked by executive and team coach supervisors and coach mentors or questions asked by those considering the possibility of providing a coach supervision or mentoring « service ».  The object of this article is not necessarily to give solutions or advice but to share a fifteen year coach supervision experience first in the field of training, then of consulting and now of life, executive, team and organizational coaching.

What is coaching supervision ?

Individual or collective executive and team coach supervision is a self-processing form of continuous education and quality control centered on a coach’s active client-oriented competencies.  Consequently, an obvious necessary preliminary condition for coach supervision or mentoring is that the concerned executive or team coach already be trained on the use of a number of coaching tools and already be actively practicing coaching within ongoing relationships with existing individual, executive or team clients.  These considerations explain why coach supervision or mentoring is generally considered as a form of « continuing education » rather than as an initial coach training process.

Coaching supervision and coach mentoring can however also be used before a coach has clients in order to develop the future coach's skills and build their own internal self-supervision competency. This is particularly the case in a group coach supervision setting in which a wide range of experiences, coaching styles and skills can be demonstrated by each participating coach, all of which contribute to each's individual learning.

An executive or team coach may choose to work within a coach supervision or mentor context that is well known for specific expertise in a particular theoretical or practical approach, but a coaching supervision process is not centered on the acquisition of particular concepts or tools.    In an executive or team coach supervision process, the supervision concerns the general practical skills and attitudes of coaching as a profession without necessarily taking into account any specific theory or tool on which that profession can rest.  Executive and team coach supervision is therefore essentially multidisciplinary in terms of conceptual frames of references, theories and tools.  Unless specified otherwise, (ex: Transactional Analysis supervision) the object of coaching supervision is the coach and the coach's client focus, not the acquisition of accessory concepts and theories.

Likewise, most coach supervision or coach mentoring processes are not necessarily tied to any one specific coaching market.  A specific executive or team coach can be supervised by any competent coach supervisor no matter that coach's specialization either in life coaching, professional and executive coaching, family coaching, etc.   There may be one exception to this affirmation as far as family coaching, team coaching and organizational coaching is concerned, as we shall explain further below.

Coach supervision or coach mentoring is not particularly centered on the acquisition of a supervisor’s practical competencies as one would expect in a workshop or in didactic and experiential training situations. It would be more exact to say that whatever their specialties, coach supervisors are merely coaches for coaches, or more precisely experts for coaches if these supervisors advise in order to offer different options. A coach supervisor or mentor adopts a stance that does not provide specific knowledge solutions but one that stimulates professional development by accompanying executive coaches in their own apprenticeship process.  Again, a coaching supervisor’s formal knowledge in specific fields or theories should not interfere in the supervision process. 

Coach supervision or mentoring is therefore very precisely centered on the development of how executive and team coaches daily implement their practical skills and competencies. Concretely, the "supervisee" or supervision client offers a succession of real client cases and is accompanied by the supervisor to develop more depth, to question strategies, to remodel personal behaviors, to control ethical position, to reconsider objectives, to revisit relationships as a professional executive or life coach, etc.  In short, coaching supervision is the art of accompanying professional coaches within a defined ethical and professional framework.

When should one consider undertaking supervision ?

Some insist that all active executive and team coaches should be participating in a coach supervision process as soon as they start practicing with a first client, sometimes even before, and that they should continue as long as they are in that line of work. If for executive and team coaches, coach supervision is a form of continuous education and applied research aimed at acquiring professional behaviors, strategies and options for evolution, why indeed do without coach supervision? Throughout 40 years of potential career coaching individuals and teams, coach supervision can offer marvelous and continuous personal and professional developmental perspectives! 

If, however, coaching supervision corresponds to an obligatory process to ensure a reasonable quality level for executive and team clients, then a limited minimum amount of prescribed supervision time should do the trick. One can then imagine institutionalizing a « quality control » process of a regular and frequent number of two hour individual or full day collective supervision sessions.   Ten sessions to twenty over a year’s time, for example, and repeated every four years could be and example of a minimum institutional standard.

Whatever the case, coaching supervision can today concern budding executive and team coaches to help them  « muscle » and master executive and team coaches to provoke them away from their certainties, stimulate their creativity, develop their professionalism and deepen their existential or spiritual questioning.  It may become obvious to most that in the early days of a coaching career, coach supervision concerns mostly work on day to day executive and team client issues, when after a number of years on the road (say ten or more), it becomes an arena for the transformation of one’s general professional approach if not for privileging the research and development of the field of coaching itself.

For very advanced coaches, coach supervision could also also be considered on a practical "as needed" basis when one feel that one are stuck, not knowing what to do or when one is finding that coaching is too easy and that nothing is a challenge.

Some professionals originating from fields that are relatively close to executive coaching (training, consulting, career advisers, recruiters, etc.) may also use a coach supervision process (especially collective, as explained further below) to operate a professional transformation and progressively reposition themselves as executive and team coaches with their historically acquired clients. In that case, coaching supervision can also serve to gradually accompany one’s professional transition from a similar professional context or environment towards the field of coaching.

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How should one choose a coach supervisor ?

It is sometimes useful to recognize that one is not necessarily simultaneously a good executive coach, a good team coach, a good coach supervisor and a good coach trainer.  We can indeed often observes that :

  • One can be an excellent and inspiring life coach trainer or executive coach trainer, be very naturally capable of teaching coaching tools, without necessarily wanting to be an executive or life coach themselves.

Coaches could prefer the choice of coaching supervisors who are different from their initial coach trainers who introduced them into the executive coaching profession. Reality seems to confirm that numerous coach trainers have a limited real coaching practice with “normal” non-coach clients.  Their excellent knowledge of executive or team coaching techniques and skills and their proficiency in the art of teaching can sometimes exist in almost complete ignorance of another reality resting on years of private, corporate, executive or team coaching practice.  Those trainers or teachers nonetheless know how to prepare good executive and team coaches for a very successful career or for one that consists in training other future coaches in turn.  There is a real need and market for this teaching competency.

  • One can also be both an excellent executive or team coach and a reasonably mediocre or uninspiring teacher, trainer or supervisor.

A sometimes positive career model would have executive or team coaches develop their practice and skill set over a few decades to then become coach trainers or coach supervisors.  They could then share their rich experience with beginning or confirmed executive coaches to have them in turn reach higher levels of professionalism.  This switch of focus is sometimes even considered the best way to end one’s coaching career with a bang.

If, however, this career model is considered as the automatic social promotion one deserves close to retirement or to obtain peer recognition (another feather in one’s hat), it can obviously become quite counter-productive.

  • A good coach supervisor’s competency rests much more on long practical field experience  coaching in various personal and professional contexts rather than on extraordinary teaching skills.

Luckily of course, some people out there manifest outstanding competencies in more than one of the above fields.  Some rare people know how to be master executive and team coaches, know how to analyze the magic of what they do, and know how to simply and clearly explain or share what they do with others. Good supervisors not only have experience but also have an excellent conscience or awareness of that experience and can transmit it. Beyond the first five basic senses, they know how to use, model and teach their capacity to envision, discern, transmit, make happen, and intuit. They know how to formulate and formalize or give form to their art 

In that light, coaches could be well advised to get informed as to the relative percentages of their potential coach supervisor’s professional activity in the executive  and team coaching field, and outside of it.

  • How much relative time does the coaching supervisor spend as a trainer, teacher or speaker on the subject of coaching?
  • How much relative time does the coaching supervisor spend mentoring or supervising other coaches ?
  • Finally how much relative time does the supervisor spend professionally coaching real clients (who are other than active or potential coaches) as an executive coach, life coach, family coach, organizational coach, team coach, etc. ?
  • How much time does the coach supervisor offer to develop the coaching profession as a researcher, as an author, as a volunteer in a professional organization or on the public arena?

To conclude on these reflections, it is obviously useful  to choose a coaching supervisor that has years of reality testing and field experience.  Diagnostic competencies, finesse of observation, sharp questioning, fluid and precise expression, intuition, etc.  Indeed, one’s executive coaching and supervisory skills do not rest on knowledge of theory and tools, but on years of experience with life coaching, executive and team coaching clients.

In the same fashion, it is useful to evaluate the diversity of each potential supervisor's experience. Have they practiced in very different organizational and cultural contexts or are they specialized in fewer but more specific environments?  Do they have in-depth experience in only one or two frames of reference or can they vouch for years of experience with really diversified types of executive and team clients ?  Whether a coach wants to diversify or specialize, the coaching supervisor should be appropriately chosen to provoke and help one "waltz" right out of his or her comfort zone.

Whatever the case, remember that if you ask around and carry out your own field study on the executive and team coach supervision or mentoring market, you will confirm that every single coach firmly believes that their supervisor is the best that can be found. This validation is strategically very useful in that it is an immediate boomerang validation of the quality of the coaches that have made that choice of coach supervisor.  Consequently, when looking for a coaching supervision provider, it is also advised to ask numerous questions on the supervision process or form to get a clear idea of what a given coach supervisor actually has to offer.

What are the different forms or processes for individual or group coach supervisions

The answer to that question is more complex than it may first seem.  There are probably as many variations in coaching supervision or mentoring processes as there are coach supervisors and coach mentors. By differentiating executive and team coach supervision contexts (their form) rather than their contents, it is nonetheless possible to propose a number of non-exclusive categories. These different categories can help coaches make a discriminating process choice on the type of coaching supervision that either best fits their particular type of coaching practice or corresponds to the one they wish to develop.

Each different type of coach supervision or coach mentoring context or form can answer different coach needs and provide different and very complementary learning environments. Consequently, the first criteria for the choice of the « best » coaching supervision formula for a specific executive or team coach concerns the coherence between the supervision context either with that coach’s daily practice or with the environment in which the coach wants to develop their practice in the very near future.  To explain further, consider the following list presenting the most habitual forms or contexts for coach supervision.

Individual Coach Supervision: When a coach’s practice is mostly individual to the point of being intimate such as in life coaching, executive coaching or C.E.O. coaching, or if the type of coaching a coach wants to develop will mostly take place within one-on-one privileged and confidential relationships, the most appropriate supervision context or form may be within the same one-on-one confidential relationship with a supervisor.  The concerned executive coach will indeed learn as much if not more on possible client-development strategies in a one-on-one relationship within such a supervision or mentoring context than from the content that may be covered during the supervision sessions.  Here as in other coaching forms presented below, remember that very often "the medium is the message".

Individual Coach Supervision, in a group setting : If a coach’s daily practice is mostly individual coaching of managers, of executives, of experts or of other clients within a more collective and transparent professional or personal context with indirect coaching prescriptions necessitating triangular coaching contracts, then a more collective or group supervision environment could be much more appropriate.  Those executive coaches would benefit from a more or less structured group or collective supervision context that will offer a social or environmental context kin to the real one in which the coach practices.

Even if the collective coach supervision process is simply and directly implemented by the supervisor and even if it only concerns each executive coach’s personal issues in turn, the group’s presence and observations adds an important social dimension to each individual coach supervision. At minimum in this type of coach supervision context, each executive coach has to take into account a third party’s presence and influence as a witness to the coach supervision or coach mentoring work. 

Telephone Coach Supervision : More specifically appropriate for executive coaches who commonly practice non-local coaching.   To be efficient, this form of coaching supervision or mentoring process concerns mostly one-on-one relationships, at most small groups of three or four coaches. Obviously, this type of supervision is most adapted for coaches who wish to develop their skills and competencies when coaching individual or executive clients by phone, resting the development of their skill set on auditive competencies.

Group Coach Supervision for Individual and Team Coaching:  Not only is it more congruent and efficient to be supervised on a team coaching practice within a group setting,  but that coach supervision process will be even more performing if the group’s process itself is structured in a way that permits a maximum amount of transverse collaboration between all the participating supervised coaches

The form of this type of collective coaching supervision often requires a higher level of commitment to acknowledge and participate in the group's dynamics on the part of participating executive coaches.  Generally, the coach supervision form also presents a more complex work structure tailored to give each participating coach numerous insights on the collective dimensions of executive team coaching including executive team development on the short, medium and long term.

Systemic Coach Supervision for Team Coaching: Systemic coaching supervision contexts require the creation of a formal group, whose structure is tailored to reproduce that of a real-life operational or executive team and its development in time. Within such supervision “learning teams”, each of the participating executive coaches volunteer in turn to manage the system’s vital operational functions in such a way as to make it a complex « learning environment » that models itself on a real, performing, corporate, executive team structure and culture.

The relative structural complexity of systemic coaching supervision groups and the numerous interactions between the different levels of participation and supervision or mentoring facilitate the collective learning and development process of all participating executive and team coaches. These "systemic" coaching supervision groups are an excellent training ground for preparing coaches for the complexity inherent to executive team and organizational coaching.

Generally, just like in a team setting, these systemic coach supervision groups are structured around necessary commitments over a longer period of time and includes participation in making the group a successful learning environment that participates in the development of each of the group members.  In effect, this type of systemic coach supervision group becomes very close to developing into a coach supervision team.

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What is systemic coach supervision, or hypervision?

Systemic coach supervision allows the acquisition or consolidation of a much larger range of powerful coaching attitudes and tools than those that can be covered in a more classical coach supervision context.  Systemic coach supervision typically uses a specifically structured group context in a way that consistently allows participants to learn how to coach by using systemic reflections and emerging synchronic resonances.

Systemic coach supervision first focuses on perceiving all the interactive forms and patterns that can continuously emerge between all the participating coaches, within the supervision group.  The supervision process then focuses on the pertinent a-causal connections these forms and patterns may have with central themes:

  • Within the supervised case study brought to the supervision context, on the one hand
  • Within the personal and professional lives of the concerned participating coaches, on the other.

Suppose, for example that two participants, a client and a coach, choose to work together in order to undertake a supervision sequence.  This choice of partnership, the ensuing quality of interactions during the work sequence and the result of that work all display precise and unique characteristics.  But these local characteristics observed within the supervision context will always be in strong resonance with the same criteria in the supervised case study:  How did those partners choose each other? What is the quality of that absent relationships?   and what are the ensuing results?  In short, all that happens locally during the supervision sequence reflects key criteria, patterns and elements of what has happened, or is happening elsewhere,  within the client case or issue and within the lives of the concerned participants.  Developing an awareness and navigating or dancing within this multiple reality is hypervision.

Concretely, whenever one systemic coach supervision participant decides to be a client and chooses another to be his or her coach, this is not to be perceived as a strictly local occurrence.  How and why does the chosen coach habitually attract that type of client?  What type of process will be repeated?  Should, for example, the supervision sequence begin with a period of confusion,  how was the client issue also marked by initial confusion?  How is confusion also a habitual beginning process for the coach, elsewhere in his or her life?  In the same way, the rest of the local relationship within the supervision or hypervision context will very precisely reflect numerous characteristics active within other personal and professional relationships lived by the concerned supervised participants.

Consequently, all the precise characteristics of local themes, forms, patterns, rhythms, difficulties, successes and results experienced by specific participants in systemic supervision or hypervision sequences are to be perceived as precise mirrored reflections that supply essential keys to the concerned issues elsewhere in their lives.  This includes the characteristics of the supervised issue or case study.  In any systemic supervision or hypervision sequence participants learn to integrate all the systemic correlations that occur between all the local supervision processes and the supervised subject brought in by any one of the participants.  For all the concerned actors, this is a highly interactive, relational, behavioral, meaningful, resonance.  In this way, hypervision takes into account the fractal reality of our entertwined lives.

Again, we underline that the systemic reflections and resonances that emerge during supervised sequences also concern the participants who volunteer for a coaching position.  Never are coaches neutral with respect to why they where chosen, nor are they external to the issues and subjects brought to them by unsuspecting client participants, nor are they innocent in the way the supervised sequences unfold.  In systemic supervision or hypervision as in systemic coaching, coach are considered fully involved in all their client dynamics.   Coaches can almost always be perceived as unwittingly playing into one of the parts or roles enacted by other actors in the client issue.  There are no chance happenings or occurrences. In this way, each and all supervised sequence allow for continuous emerging awareness and development avenues for supervised coaches

These systemically resonating effects will often also include some, if not all of the other observing participants in the supervision context, even when they appear to be simple observers.  In a synchronic or fractal way, the local collective supervision setting allows for the group to represent the absent social and professional contexts of all coach and client issues.  In this way, the supervision group as such also plays into the resonating patterns specific to each coach process and client issue, thereby reflecting the characteristics and behaviors of an absent public and influencing environments.

Consequently, whenever attending or observing the work of two supervised participants in a short sequence, the systemic supervision group presence and behavior can:

  • Illustrate and express specific social or professional pressures that occur within the presented client issue,
  • Allow for very specific work on the imposture complex harbored by many beginning or insecure coaches.
  • Can reveal complex and pertinent characteristics of the triangular contracts that define many supervision client absent contexts,
  • Can locally illustrate the quality of interactions and relationships that unfold between participating coaches and clients and their absent personal and professional environments.
  • In time, the group dynamics allows for the emergence of themes and issues that pertain to group dynamics and evolutionary steps, and help develop coaches that accompany larger systems.
  • Offers an arena to develop team and organizational coaching competencies.
  • Etc

The first level of work in systemic supervision is to develop participant awareness of precise synchronic resonances between the here and now of supervision and the multiple elsewhere personal and professional realities that belong to each of the participants.  The second level of work for systemic coach supervision is to develop immediate and adequate coach behavioral strategies that take into account these systemic reflections, in order to powerfully enlarge their own and their client perspectives.

Beyond the multiple levels presented above, a systemic supervision group is also formally structured to represent a network of coaches on a shared marketplace.  In turn, each coach is a purveyor, a client, and a witness to the activity of others.  This market-system organization requires reasonably formal processes and specific operating procedures.  As such a systemic supervision process unfolds, this specific group architecture allows for each participant to access a number of other professional insights, such as the following:

  • The surfacing and development of a personal market identity for each participating coach,
  • Each can clarify their central or peripheral strategic positioning, within other formal structures and professional networks.
  • Participation can reveal each one's capacity to commit, engage, be motivated, follow through, achieve goals, etc.
  • Clarify how active each needs to become in active marketing and sales of their coaching practice.
  • Develop their skills in managing, delegating, motivating, leading, following, in order to models such behavior to their cients
  • Etc.

To conclude, the many levels of complexity offered by systemic coaching supervision groups allows for participants to simultaneously focus on the development many complementary facets of their personal and coaching skills, and of their professional practice.  This all-encompassing inclusive and systemic approach to coach development stimulates very powerful and measurable professional growth. 

The systemic frame of reference accompanied by such an appropriate learning environment makes space for the emergence of a multiplicity of developmental options. This invites all the participants to develop their capacity to perceive systemic resonances and deploy extremely powerful coaching behaviors and strategies, ultimately for the benefit of their clients.

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Does coach supervision take place « live » or in a delayed time frame?

Both.
Delayed Supervision : In this context, the coach supervisor or coach mentor generally offers insights following a participating executive coach's description of specific and real past «client cases» and helps the supervised coach elaborate alternate or more performing strategies for future implementation with the concerned clients. Supervision does not actually concern observed coaching, but past coaching issues exposed and explained by the participating coach.  This form of supervision can take place both one on one and in a group environment.  In the latter setting, the coach supervisor usually directly comments and proposes options on each « client case study » with the concerned executive coach.  Other attending coaches also profit from the exposed situations and learn from each others’ exposed coaching and supervision issues.

This type of “delayed” coaching supervision process based on the description of « client case studies » is appropriate for a number of individual executive coaches in as much as most of their professional practice also takes place in a similarly delayed coaching context. During their real coaching sessions, clients also typically offer these executive coaches descriptions of their problems or expose them through analogical or metaphorical learning tools within a protected and confidential environment.  The executive coach never actually observes their client in a real or “live” professional or personal context in the midst of their real corporate or private environment.  Consequently, this form of « delayed » coach supervision process is congruent with most coaches’ daily professional coaching practice. 

Just in Time or Live Coaching Supervision :  Some coach supervisions concern executive and team coaching situations that are directly observed by the supervisor.  Examples :

  • One on one, the coach supervisor first takes a client role and volunteers a real personal or professional issue to be coached by the executive coach asking for supervision. Once that real coaching session is over with the supervisor in the shoes of the client, the supervisor abandons the client role to supervise the coach on the effectiveness of the sequence that just took place between them.  This approach is quite effective in one-on-one telephone supervision.
  • The coaching supervisor can also be physically present with a coach and listen to the latter work on the phone with a non-local executive client, and then propose growth, development and supervision after the client session is concluded, when the executive client is off line.
  • In a local group (or during small-group phone supervision) one of the other participating executive coaches offers a real-life personal or professional problem or issue and is coached by another participating coach who would then be supervised. The coaching supervision will then concern the observed or « live » coaching that actually took place rather than focus on the content of the "client" issue.

Live or "just in time" coach supervision is much more congruent with coaches that have a "live" executive or team coaching practice that consists in accompanying clients in real life situations such as in executive team coaching during real operational team meetings, or when coaching individual clients on the field (shadow coaching) during sales or negotiations, in public speaking, during yearly evaluations, etc.

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What about the different levels of experience between participants in a group coaching supervision context ?  

No two executive coaches in coach supervision have an identical background or identical experience.  Coach supervision in a group setting consequently rests on a mix of origins, personal backgrounds, educations, professional tracks, knowledge of theory, frames of reference, etc. This variety or diversity is both a gift and can considered an issue.

In collective coach supervision contexts, for example, budding executive coaches and team coaches can hide in retreat so as to avoid demonstrating their lack of experience, while other more experienced coaches can limit their participation to delivering regular and brilliant demonstrations to avoid taking risks and learning something new.  When one wants to avoid committing, there is always a crack that offers a way out (that’s also how the Light gets in).

Whatever a coach's level of experience, the best strategy to profit from a coaching supervision context is to accept full responsibility for being present, and then take risks. Only then can each executive and team coach develop, grow and reach their learning objective, using the diversity offered by the collective coach supervision setting.  When each coach follows that strategy, the collective, formal or informal or systemic coach supervision context rapidly becomes a very powerful learning experience.

Can coach supervision be undertaken « as needed » or should it be programmed on a much more regular rhythm?

Once again, it all depends on the expected results. For a beginning executive and team coach and even for a confirmed practicing coach, it is usually advised to participate in a regularly programmed coaching supervision process, keeping a same mentor or coach supervisor for a reasonable length of time.  Experience seems to prove that the existence of a regular coaching supervision context provokes a coach’s growth with much more apparent and continuous progression.  Much as with real executive and team clients, if a rhythm is not set in a relatively formal way and with a contract, most coaches seem to « forget » or to postpone coach supervision.  Committing to a set coach supervision rhythm does wonders.

After years of coaching, a masterful executive or team coach will need coach supervision on relatively different themes that are related to deeper professional development, existential, spiritual and life issues or that concern research and development of the coaching field itself.  Consequently the rhythm of coach supervision may become less regular, but the sessions will become longer and may be more prepared by more original and creative experiments on the field.

To follow a common real coaching rhythm, coaching supervision sessions are often monthly, for an hour or two on an individual basis and for up to a full day in group or systemic coach supervision contexts.  More formal group or systemic supervisions take place once a month for a full day to reproduce the most usual executive team meeting rhythm of client organizations.

Whatever the chosen rhythm, regular or as needed depending on the defined context and contract, a given executive and team coach’s capacity to respect his or her commitment to coach supervision is often a very precise indicator of that coach's general capacity to commit professionally if not personally.   By extension, that level of commitment will also often reflect that same coach’s executive client capacity to commit to a continuous coaching process.

What is the most useful or performing form of coaching supervision for a coach ? 

Depending on each coach’s motivations and preferred learning context, the best coaching supervision process is the one whose form, rhythm and supervisor are most congruent with that coach’s daily professional practice, or on the contrary, with the skills or competencies that coach wishes to develop, or again which is most likely to jolt a coach out of a personal comfort zone.  And whatever the choice be, it is often useful to question it again a few miles down the road, to experiment with yet again an other type of coach supervision option.

Another article on professional coach-training processes and ''learning architectures''
Thank you Margaret Kriegbaum and Michael Thorley for your comments, corrections and reactions to this text. They have been of great inspiration.