The Gift of Coaching Presence
Coaching Presence is a key competency in ICF accreditation and is defined as ‘the ability to be fully conscious and create a spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident’. Furthermore, when a coach has coaching presence they:
- Are present and flexible during the coaching process, dancing in the moment.
- Access their own intuition and trust their inner knowing—”goes with the gut.”
- Are open to not knowing and take risks.
- See many ways to work with the client and choose in the moment what is most effective.
- Use humour effectively to create lightness and energy.
- Confidently shift perspectives and experiment with new possibilities for own action.
- Demonstrate confidence in working with strong emotions and can self-manage and not be overpowered or enmeshed by client’s emotions.
In the past 12 years I have completed a number of coach trainings and only one (The Strozzi Institute) has really ‘taught’ me how to do this. For me, it’s the central piece in coaching and supervision. It’s the difference that makes the difference.
But how do you do it??
On reading the competency you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an intellectual process. It’s not; it’s a physical process. It’s about bringing the whole of you to the room and to the moment – each and every moment.
This requires you to let go of your conscious thought, to be comfortable with not knowing and trusting the wisdom of your whole body. It also means letting go of all those models that we may hold onto in our head to make sense of what your coachee/supervisee is saying.
By paying attention to your whole body you are more likely to tap into your intuition. When you are truly present you are able to attune to EVERYTHING that is going on; emotions, mood, physiology, fears, concerns and yearnings of your client. This information may come to you through images, stories, emotions or sensations.
Listening to your intuition and ‘inner knowing’ you can choose the moment to act. This may mean taking a risk and shifting the perspective of the client.
So how do we get good at it?
Mindfulness practices help as they will help you quieten the mind, for example, meditation, yoga, tai chi, relaxing and attention to the breath. For those without mindfulness practice getting present will simply take practice.
How many of you practise outside of your coaching and supervision sessions? I have found practising outside of a session enables me to move into that space more easily when I need to.
Before you begin, take a deep breath and get yourself nicely grounded and centred, paying attention to your whole body. Where are you holding tension? Can you relax in this area? If you can’t maybe this becomes part of your practice. Relax your jaw (this is often where we hold tension), breathe from your diaphragm and relax your pelvic floor. Most people find this begins to slow them down and it is from this place you can start your practice. If you can, allow your belly to be round and soft as this also enhances naturally deep breathing
You can practise in many situations and I encourage people to find moments in the day to be really present e.g. walking down the street, on the train or tube, shopping, in the shower, putting your children to bed. There are endless opportunities when you start to think about them.
Where are the opportunities for you to practise?
When you practise, what do you notice about:
b) Your surroundings?
What do you notice about your coaching presence after you’ve practised?
Dawn Bentley CSA Accredited Supervisor www.aurora4success.co.uk