Creating your coach development plan

As coaches and mentors, we expect our clients to have and to review regularly a Personal Development Plan. But how do we respond, if they ask us about our own Personal Development Plans as coaches? In a series of workshops with coaches, less than 30% overall say that they have one.

Apart from maintaining credibility with clients, a Coach Development Plan (CDP):
• Makes the coach more mindful of how they are growing in comparison with the world of coaching and the needs of their clients (what might have passed for “good” a few years ago, now looks increasingly average)
• Helps maintain the humility essential to effective coaching (“I may have a lot of experience, but I’m still learning, too.”)
• Provides a rich source of topics for reflection and to take to supervision
• Gives focus and direction to the development of coaching skills, practice and philosophy.

Because a CDP is a very individual document, there’s no single “right” way to create it. However, the following questions can be helpful in designing a structured approach that fits your learning style and your preferred style of setting and pursuing learning goals.

• What skills do I most want to improve in? Or, what skills improvements in me would be of greatest benefit to my clients? Skills might, for example, include listening/ mindfulness; self-awareness; systems awareness; or use of silence.
• What tools, techniques or coaching constructs do I want to add to my toolbox? How will I ensure I understand them in sufficient depth to apply them safely and wisely? How will I integrate these with my existing toolbox?
• How can I reduce my reliance on models, processes, tools and techniques?
• What can I do to increase the quantity and quality of the feedback I receive on my coaching?
• How can I extend my learning network? Who can I use as role models of good practice?
• What do I need from my professional supervisor? Is it time to trade them in?
• How can I develop and more clearly enunciate my personal philosophy as a coach?
• How can I build my reputation?
• How can I build my self-confidence as a coach?
• How can I become even more authentic?
• Where can I find appropriate challenges to my assumptions about coaching and my role as a coach?
• How will I improve the quality of my reflections on my practice?
• When am I at my most/ least effective as a coach? How do I know? Who holds up the mirror to me as a coach?
• In what ways, do I want to stretch my boundaries of my coaching?
• What resources are available to support my development as a coach? (e.g. reading, social networks, role models, courses, supervision…). Who can I rely on to help me?
• What is my vision for the coach I want to be in 1, 2 and 5 years’ time?
• How much energy, time and other resources can I invest in making this vision happen?
• How will I know I’m making progress?
• And, of course, what else?

Practical ways of keeping the momentum of a CDP include:
• Reviewing it regularly with peers and supervisors
• Setting monthly targets in terms of knowledge acquisition (e.g. reading, attending courses or professional development events)
• Joining with peers in on-line or face-to-face learning groups
• Setting yourself a developmental challenge at least once a quarter
• With clients’ permission, experimenting with different approaches that may extend your repertoire (but always prioritising their needs over yours.)

It’s axiomatic that a coach, who does not invest energy into their own development, is automatically limiting their effectiveness with clients. In contrast, coaches, who take their own development seriously are well equipped to establish and maintain a true developmental partnership with their clients – who are potentially the most powerful teachers of all!

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