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Developmental Coaching

As we move closer to the London 2012 Olympics and on the back of a successful English Ashes cricket tour, it is unsurprising that when one thinks of the term 'coaching' there is an association to competitive sports and winning. A coaching model often used in competitive sports is the coach as 'expert' e.g. the batting coach or 'personal trainer' that places an emphasis on obtaining successful results. Coaching focuses on nurturing potential maximising individual, or team performance but most importantly getting results. Such sporting techniques and processes have been applied for some decades to maximise individual and team performance in business and industrial sectors.

I have been particularly influenced by the works of Timothy Galwey in aligning his 'inner game' principles of sports coaching to the work situation and its applicability to health related fields whether in the NHS (UK), or commercial enterprises.

Not unlike the summary of supervision activities on a previous page, professional coaching can be loosely subdivided into;

  • Skills coaching (developing particular work skills on an individual basis similar to supervised practice)
  • Performance coaching (developing particular competencies similar to organizational supervision)
  • Development coaching (identifying and acting on longer term development goals similar to supportive supervision)
It has to be acknowledged that whilst there are similarities between the role of the clinical supervisor working with the supervisee and the development coach and the client there are differences. For instance the clinical supervision relationship tends to work within a frame of reference that has as its focus, or end goal to support the practitioner in offering effective and accountable patient care. The development coach has a different starting point that begins with the individual's (or teams) perspective of where they are and where they want to go. This helps to clarify and set goals (although these may alter over time), and ways of acting on these. The latter relationship can often be an intensive and dynamic activity with the client e.g. weekly sessions for 4-12 weeks rather than the longer term relationship espoused in clinical supervision. Whilst clinical supervisors (like myself), might also become a development coach (like myself), perhaps it might be more difficult for a coach to work within the predefined parameters of a supervisee. Although an interesting debate, clinical supervision and development coaching both require the individual or the team to STOP amidst the busy world of healthcare to renew and evaluate practice(s) as a form of guided reflection. Whilst seeming pretty obvious, it does requires a commitment on the part of the individual / team to do so, but in the milieu where health professionals can often feel overwhelmed, exhausted and 'too busy'.

To commit to stepping back, reflecting, organising your thoughts with the help of a development coach in order to act differently also takes courage to acknowledge a need for help when floundering under pressure. A chapter on the principles of coaching in my book suggests that development coaching has much to offer senior healthcare staff in terms of conversational structure, being more demonstrable in terms of outcomes, less 'problem' orientated and of a more equal relationship.

I believe what I can offer you as a development coach in healthcare is;

  • A belief that each individual can find within themselves the answers to what he/she is seeking
  • A safe space to play with ideas, solutions and different futures
  • A sense of humour
  • Experience in the guided reflection of individuals and teams
  • A faith in the coaching process to help unleash your potential
  • A belief that we can all regain control of our lives and make different choices
If development coaching seems like something YOU could benefit from, browse around the rest of this page. Perhaps try some of my coaching exercises and contact me (for a FREE no obligation 30 minute discussion), to see if development coaching is right for you on.



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John Driscoll
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