Increasingly, doctors are being explicitly tasked with providing both coaching and mentoring within their professional practice.
Not everyone has the opportunity to attend training and explore their skills thoroughly. However, friend and colleague Dr Jane Povey writes about embarking on a professional coach-mentoring qualification here.
As a Mum, and in my various professional roles as a GP, medical manager, non-executive director and social entrepreneur, I try to use coaching techniques.
However, working with a range of expert coaches and people developers over recent years has given me the appetite to better equip myself in coaching so I signed up for The Oxford Coach Mentoring school (OCM) Diploma in professional coaching and mentoring.
I was fairly organised as I got underway with the programme in the New Year, booking workshops and finding my three ‘guinea-pig’ coachees. Then I completely lost my confidence and didn’t know where to start. I wasn’t sure how to function as a ‘proper coach’.
Fortunately, my first session with my coach-mentor-supervisor was next on my to-do list and, although I wondered how she would be able to help me convert my fearfulness into a sense of readiness for my first coaching session in an hour over Skype, she did it.
With her poignant, simple questions she enabled me to realise that, through pulling on my range of experiences (professional and other), and being myself, I was good enough to give it a go.
I was particularly concerned about how to do the contracting, including how to establish our boundaries, moving from the clinical and managerial relationships I am used to, towards a coaching relationship with my clients. The way I am explaining this to my coachees is that I come to them bringing my full range of experience, but not acting as a doctor or manager, recognising if there is need to signpost elsewhere. I drafted a coaching agreement and discussing this proved to be a really straight forward way to build rapport and ease us into our initial coaching discussion.
It was liberating! Having the time and headspace to listen, observe and offer a few probing questions to enable their thinking, was so refreshing compared to having to fix a clinical problem or deliver a management task. It was wonderful to be able to almost see the cogs turning as their thoughts unfolded.
Now I am lapping up the mix of coaching, workshops, reading, drafting reflective notes, enjoying hugely valuable feedback on my reflective practice from my tutor and therefore re-drafting the reflective notes.
I have always thought myself to be reflective, but I am now discovering how to take time to reflect more deeply. Examples being exploring in more detail when something interesting arises, and reflecting on how I am evolving my coaching style and approach based on what happens during coaching sessions. I’m also meeting a variety of fascinating and inspiring experienced coaches and coaches in training.
I now see my coaching journey in the form of a tree, my personal values as the roots and my range of experience to date as the trunk with some branches where I have been using coaching informally. What I am now doing is growing further branches as I better understand coaching and mentoring and developing a vibrant range of fruits as I collect, practise and employ coaching and mentoring theories, methods, tools and tactics.
This brings to mind one of my favourite definitions of leadership.
So, the point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely — all your skills, gifts, and energies … you must … become the person you started out to be, and … enjoy the process of becoming.” Warren Bennis
I reckon this is a pretty good definition of becoming a ‘proper’ coach.
Dr Jane Povey
- Deputy Medical Director and Founding Senior Fellow – Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management
- Founding Director – Creative Inspiration Shropshire CIC
- Non-Executive Director – The Gold Standards Framework Centre
- Advisory Board Member – University Centre Shrewsbury, University of Chester
- Dr Jane Povey Ltd – Coaching, Mentoring and Consultancy