Path to Mastery: How to be an Observer in a Coaching Triad

by Ed Britton

Think the observer drew the short straw in a coaching triad?

Think again. The observer role is the difference between a coaching session and a coaching triad. Observers can spend between 30 minutes and 5 hours with a session recording plugged into their ears, and with The Coaching Masteries® Ebook in front of them. They focus on how a good session can be transformed into a masterful session. Your time as an observer may be some of the richest learning that you experience on your path to mastery.

The observer provides suggestions for how a coaching session might be improved based on The Coaching Masteries®. This may be done simply by listening to the coach and coachee (client) in a live session and commenting afterward, or, perhaps more profitably, by repeated listening to the session recording and providing written suggestions for improvement.

Here is a suggested process:

  1. Prior to the session, each participant reviews the Masteries ebook.
  2. The observer asks how the coach would like to focus his/her practice of mastery in the session.
  3. Record the session for later review.
  4. Take particular note of the coach’s focus, with awareness that the focus needs to be integrated and balanced with other considerations of mastery.
  5. At the conclusion of the session, ask the coach how they practiced their Mastery focus, and for their own assessment of the session.
  6. Then, ask the coachee for their observations.
  7. Finally, make your own contributions.
  8. At a later time, the observer reviews the session recording, Mastery by Mastery, with the ebook in hand. (Remember, that to add value, coaching must be more than conversation. Listen for dialogue that is deeper and more productive than ‘everyday’ conversation.)
  9. The observer provides a summary of observations to all members of the triad.

When coaching quality is approaching excellence and extra effort is needed to fine tune it to meet Mastery level, the following approach can be used.

  1. The coach in the triad types a word-for-word transcript of the recording and provides the transcript to the observer and the coachee.
  2. With the Masteries ebook in hand, each listens to the recording with the transcript and underlines where Masteries were used and makes note where there could have been fuller expression of the Masteries.
  3. Use the Masteries ebook to screen each Mastery in all three categories:
    • Go through effective behaviors and check each.
    • Repeat for ineffective behaviors.
    • Look for the measures one at a time.
  4. Each provides a written report, and/or discusses their contribution in an oral study session

To discern truly masterful coaching, there is one more lens to look through – the lens of the coachee. Masterful coaching is deeply transformative; much more than ‘technically correct.’ Coaching becomes masterful when the coachee is moved to discovery and achievement that supersedes themselves. You can hear it in their voice, see it in their eyes and observe it in their sustained performance and accomplishment.

While all 9 Masteries must be rich in evidence, the defining quality of masterful coaching is the profound change that elicits sustained transformation.

Listen for it!

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

Scroll to Top

IAC Login