Path to Mastery: A Sample Observer’s Report

by Ed Britton

Coaching triads provide an opportunity to be the coach, the coachee, or the observer. Being the observer of a coaching session, even — or perhaps especially — when I am also the coach, is perhaps the role most beneficial to me in terms of learning.

I listen to a recorded session with one or two IAC Masteries in mind and assess the coaching in terms of a limited consideration of the Masteries. Then I’ll listen to the session again, focusing on one or two other Masteries.

Here is a sample of what my observer’s comments might look like for four of the nine Masteries. This is a compilation of several observer’s reports that I have done while participating in the IAC Path to Mastery. (If you would like to participate in the IAC Path to Mastery coaching triads program, please email me at

#2 Potential

The coach referring to past successes was a great way to help the coachee feel their potential to succeed. This question was used effectively in follow up: Your accomplishment speaks for itself and I feel confident that you will be able to succeed in this, too. Tell me how your confidence feels to you.

Tell me more about the strengths you bring to any endeavor. The coach then has the client state strengths, encouraging her to self-affirm her potential.

The coachee suggested she could send 10 emails.

The coach’s question “What else could you do?” expanded potential for action.

Tell me something amazing that you have done that inspires confidence in yourself. The client’s answer provided an opportunity to reflect on a success, inspiring confidence – the coach used the client’s own word confidence.

#3 Listening

The coach focused on what the client expressed, both verbally and nonverbally. Heard the heaviness, then at session end the coach expressed how the coachee sounded lighter and energized, suggesting that this positive emotion could be used to pursue her goals. This helped the coachee to be aware of how their energetic presence could affect her achievement.

Reflecting the coachee's conversation back to the coachee supported listening, as did using the coachee's vocabulary in questions and discussion.

A question that checked in on the present “Right now, what are you feeling on a deeply emotional or spiritual level?” provided an opportunity for expression and deep listening.

#5 Expressing

The coach struggled with words; there was a need for more concise expression — more recounting of what the coachee had said that seemed to serve the next step in the dialogue.

The pace of conversation sometimes slowed when the coach engaged. The coach shifted the conversation on a couple of occasions. The balance of dialogue favored the coach a bit too much.

Perhaps questions that are simple and less directive, such as “Tell me more about that. What's underneath that?” or, simply, “And?” or, “Go on,” or “What else?” would be more effective.

#9 Support

The coach asked how he could be of help. He helped the coachee identify support and resources that were familiar, comfortable and had proven effective to her in her own past, positive experiences. He made a list during the session and provided this list in conclusion, as well as in an email after the session. The coach could have offered to touch base with the coachee during the week to provide additional support.

Let’s have some comments! What are your approaches to an observer’s report?

Ed BrittonEd Britton is a career and leadership coach who lives in Calgary, Canada. He also serves the IAC as the Director of Development and leads the Path to Mastery coaching triads program. Ed has a background in the physical sciences, in adult education and leadership development. After living in China for 10 years, Ed looks forward to a Canadian winter and cross country skiing! If you would like to participate in the Path to Mastery coaching triads program, please contact Ed at

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