School of Shadow Coaching



Apr 24, 2008:
Refreshed: v3.0!

Jan 11, 2007:
Improved: v2.5!

June 25, 2006:
Major upgrade: v2.0.

June 25, 2005:
First release: v1.0.

Sample link »

Understanding and Overview of Shadow Coaching™

Leaders understand that the key to meeting challenges lies in the development and empowerment of themselves and their staff in order to achieve results and meet the objectives of their department or organization.

Shadow Coaching can be an essential element in growing effective leadership. Shadow Coaching is a key tool in creating and renewing leadership and supporting cultural change within organizations.


ICF CCEU Credits

While there is no single definition of Shadow Coaching, it can be described as a process designed to assist executives in improving their competence to attain results and contribute to the organization's success.  It is a process undertaken with compassion and appreciation for the unique contribution that each executive has to offer in their respective context.

Professional and personal development is seen to be intimately linked, and fulfilling both, is seen to be what most powerfully contributes to organizational vitality. Shadow Coaching is thus a relationship of mutual commitment, dedicated to the improved sustained competence of the coachee.

Shadow Coaching is one-on-one situational, observational coaching between a coach and an executive with mutually agreed upon objectives. Shadow Coaching can also take place in a group format where the coachee is observed within group dynamics to further strengthen organizational and team cohesiveness.

This type of coaching is ideally suited to organizational leaders who must make decisions and act adaptively in intense work environments. 

Shadow Coaching is a particular advanced application of reflective and observational coaching that provides one way for clients to go below the surface into the core dynamics of a situation, illuminating the truth of the moment and making decisions that move people forward.  It is a real time learning approach in developing a refined self-awareness and capabilities in the workplace as a result of reflection on practice. It enables people, not only to benefit from the continuous presence of an observing coach over an extended period of time in a typical set of workdays, but also develops their own role as self-observer for the long term. It teaches clients to become reflective practitioners.  Within Shadow Coaching™ is the competency of Laser Coaching™ which involves being able to provoke the leader’s awareness of these problematic features in ways that they can be addressed immediately.

Effective leadership, management, coaching and team behaviour depend heavily on how people use language: what is done, and how well it is done, is shaped by how people do and do not use language.

Shadow Coaching involves observing and intervening in the ways people act and intervening to assist them to take full advantage of their talent and competencies in a given field.  The Shadow Coach observes how individuals construct interpretations about their ways of being which are then reflected through their language and actions.  It also works with emerging shadow personalities and helps the client embrace and accept their ‘shadow’ personalities as a vital and valid part of their character.  Through the Shadow Coaching approach, the coach assists the coachee to become aware of these interpretations and how they can be changed.  Personal performance feedback comes from real-time first-hand observation with focus on the difference between stated objectives and actual behavior.  With that information, coachees identify choices between what they want and what they are currently doing and implement change accordingly.

Shadow Coaching empowers people to accomplish more than they think possible and to take responsibility for their own actions.  It is a self-generating and self-sustaining learning method that promotes and supports cultural change within the organization.

Like other disciplines, Shadow Coaching has a rigorous ethical framework. The essence of this framework is that while Shadow Coaches are able to generate powerful interpretations from which coachees can benefit, the coach does not hold the truth about what is best, and always works within the emotional and physical space of the coachee.

Within a larger context or group setting, the Shadow Coaching model is used to maximize the success and efficacy of organizations at the group level. This encompasses individual excellence within the global perspective of building a cohesive, effective team to meet organizational responsibilities, and become ‘centres of excellence’.

Using this methodology, solutions and strategies are created to help participants learn how to attract, develop, support and sustain organizational leaders, thereby building leadership capacity overall within the organization.