Exploring the Darkness with Team Coaching Supervision

Are you brave enough to venture into the dark? If you are drawn to become a team coaching supervisor, it may be more comfortable to focus on the brighter aspects of this intensive work. However, it is equally important not to shy away from what is difficult, uncertain or obscure. To coach and supervise effectively, we must be willing to tangle with shadows.

As team coaching supervisors, we create a safe yet challenging space for team coaches to reflect, gather insights and become more intentional in their approach. Doing so means exploring the darkness, both within ourselves and in those we support.

In horror films, it is the unseen that we find most frightening. We do not know what awaits – whether we are moving forward or going in circles, or if monsters lurk in the shadows. Supervision can serve as a spotlight which brings clarity to the darkness, allowing us to see what is actually there and explore our relationship with it.

What hidden challenges might team coaches encounter?

Team coaches deal with multiple complexities and stakeholders including sponsors, leaders, HR partners, clients, co-coaches and the team itself. Complexity brings with it uncertainty, the unknown, and the invisible.

Imagine that coaching a team is like trying to solve a puzzle from which pieces are missing. Those blank spaces represent the darkness – whether that might be personal issues that influence our coaching, or understanding the intricate power plays within teams.

When we think of darkness in team coaching, we include:

  • Difficult dynamics – Team coaches grapple with complex and challenging team dynamics. It is our job to recognize unspoken tensions, unacknowledged emotion, and underlying dysfunctions within a team, so that we can bring them into the light.
  • Power and privilege – Coaches need to be aware of how power is being used within a team, as well as the position we hold within that dynamic. Recognizing when we are unintentionally leveraging or diminishing our power is critical to a balanced coaching approach.
  • Unconscious bias – We may not be aware of how unconscious perceptions may influence our interactions with clients. As supervisors, we hold the mirror so that coaches can identify and address their own biases.
  • Self-awareness and personal challenges – Supervision allows coaches to confront their own vulnerabilities, such as relationship issues, life stresses, or competency boundaries that could be affecting their work.
  • Ethical considerations – Supervision encourages coaches to reflect on how they can handle ethical dilemmas with sensitivity and integrity, ensuring that coaches are following best practices.

Skirting these dark spaces will not make them disappear. It is only by delving into them that we illuminate the shadows.


“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”



Team coaching supervision isn’t just about addressing dark issues in our teams. It’s also about facing them within ourselves. To coach teams effectively, we must first confront our own darkness – those parts that may sabotage us or trigger reactions, especially in a team coaching environment.

In becoming a team coaching supervisor, you’ll explore your own shadows and begin to notice what happens within you and in the relationship with your supervisee. You are not just observing somebody else doing the work, but travelling the same path along with them.

How will coaching supervision help team coaches navigate challenges?

Coaching supervision is increasingly recognized by coach credentialing bodies including the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), International Association of Coaching (IAC) and International Coaching Federation (ICF). It is a subtle art, supporting coaches to develop the ‘super-vision’ they need to see themselves clearly. This clarity is the candle we need to enter dark places with confidence.

As coaching supervisors, we:

  • Establish a reflective practice – supporting team coaches to consider situations encountered in the past, anticipate what might occur in future, and be intensely aware of what is happening in the moment.
  • Craft a trusting, safe and brave environment – allowing team coaches to openly share their concerns and vulnerabilities.
  • Fine-tune listening abilities – using ourselves as an instrument to pick up on emotions and dynamics that can easily go unnoticed.
  • Share wisdom on sensitive ethical dilemmas – collaborating on ways to navigate them with integrity.
  • Recognize individual strengths – doing the deep work that helps coaches to acknowledge and even celebrate what only they can bring to working with teams.

Like so many other experiences in this profession, training as a coaching supervisor is part of a transformative journey. In wading into the discomfort of the darkness, we normalize that it is okay to be imperfect and to not know all of the answers.

As coaching supervisors, we equip others with the confidence they need to navigate the unknown, and to help others to do the same.

WRITTEN BY: Sherry Matheson, Larissa Thurlow and Kerry Woodcock, the co-creators of Novalda’s Diploma in Team Coaching Supervision program.


Ready to add coaching supervision to your skillset?

Learn more about Novalda’s Diploma in Team Coaching Supervision.

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