Unwrapping the Gift of Healthy Supervision

A recent 5 for Friday ‘ONE QUESTION SURVEY’ asked a simple question about supervision:

“What are the top three qualities you want in a supervisor?”  Hundreds of you responded! Thank You, for responding! Below are the qualities that were listed to choose from:

  • strong leadership

  • emotional stability

  • encouragement and affirmation

  • clarity on expectations

  • empathy and compassion

  • integrity

  • disciplined and focused

  • solid communication skills

  • coaching and mentoring skills

  • flexibility and accessibility

  • clarity on expectations

  • wise and strong knowledge base

  • Confident

  • Others?  _______________





The results may not be surprising because the qualities we want from a boss are understandable.  

  • We want to be noticed so we want someone to SEE us,  (Accessibility)

  • We want to give input so we want someone to HEAR  us.  (Communication)

  • We want to learn and grow so it makes sense that we want someone to stretch,develop and CHALLENGE us.  (Leadership)

But wait, in the COMMENTS section these desired qualities were also suggested:

  • Spiritually mature

  • Humble

  • Macro-manager

  • Detail oriented

  • Visionary

  • Speaks truth in love

  • Servant leader

  • Innovative/creative

And what about these attributes that didn’t make the list:

  • Loyal/committed

  • Teacher

  • Courageous

  • Listener

  • High EQ, CQ, OQ, SQ (all the Q’s)

  • Holds accountability

  • Health conscious

  • Learner/listener

  • Professional

  • Authentic

  • Trainer

So, what about a second question- “How do you 'get’ what you need from a supervisor?”

We know that no one can be all of the things listed above. Besides, our ability to receive good supervision is filtered through our own perspective.  Although we may never agree on the most important qualities in a supervisor because of our own uniqueness, there are different qualities we need in a supervisor as we grow, mature and change.

Bottom line:  You can’t design your supervisor, but you can design your supervision.

Supervisors, have the conversation with the people you lead. Let them know what you expect and what you can offer them. Let staff know why you believe what you believe about supervision. Importantly, it’s not just up to the supervisor to design.

Staff person, a form of “leading up” is letting your supervisor know what you need in supervision. In no way is it a demand, it is a conversation. Sure, you won’t be asking your supervisor to be MORE confident, but you can ask them to be clear regarding expectations. Maybe you let them know you respond best when you have time to ask questions for clarity or that mentorship is of great value to you.

Together, you can work to meet the needs.

Now what?  So, do you as the supervisor or staff person need to have a conversation? Is it a good time to provide clarity or ask for what you need? If you think yes, then do something about it right now. Make a call now, set up a check-in, write out what would be helpful and discuss supervision. Supervisors want to be effective and as staff people we need to be supported----Have a conversation.

Written by Reid Estes estescoaching@gmail.com