16 – 22 May is international Coaching Week, an international celebration of the coaching profession.
I’m celebrating International Coaching Week by updating my NLP coaching skills, making sure I am match fit. Then so that I can start advertising my services. I’ve referred to coaching in passing in a few of my blog posts, I thought it was time to write more about it. Particularly as so many people get confused about the difference between coaching and mentoring.
So let’s dispel that myth straight away: Coaching and mentoring are not the same thing. Nothing at all wrong with mentoring, I qualified as a mentor many years ago with the National Mentoring Consortium. I firmly believe it has its place.
There are definitely some similarities in the skills required for both coaching and mentoring (and counselling and psychotherapy but they are different interventions).
For example, both coaching and mentoring require good listening skills, the ability to get into rapport with the client, and the ability interpret the congruence between the client’s words and their body language.
Mentoring, however, in its broadest sense is a more experienced person assisting a less experienced person, usually in the same area of work. The mentor provides advice and guidance and can help their client (mentee) to develop their career aspirations. They should not be in the line management chain of the mentee. My first mentor was a chap who was the same grade as me who worked in corporate finance while I worked in local finance, back before the days I entered HR.
Coaches, on the other hand, do not provide advice, nor do they need to know about the work that the coachee carries out. Coaching is about drawing out the awareness in the client so that they can teach themselves, and encouraging the coachee to take responsibility for their goals. It’s a very goal oriented process, although, paradoxically, for the coach, it doesn’t matter whether the coachee actually attains their goal, as long as they learn in the process.
I found that quite difficult to get my head around when I first started coaching, and frustrating too. But coaches are not meant to be judgemental, so it’s actually not their business whether the coachee achieves or not.
However, from the coach’s point of view, if they want to grow their businesses, they need to that if the client doesn’t achieve their goals, it will be the coach they blame, not themselves. So coach’s need to be choosy about who they take on as clients. Sorry, but that’s the truth. Anyway, there is something immoral about taking on a client you don’t believe can achieve their goals. As coaches, we need to believe in our clients and if we don’t we shouldn’t take them on. I think it’s called obtaining money by deception. Worth remembering if you are trying to get a coach, that they may decide that they don’t want to coach you.
If you are interested in being coached, contact me at susan.shirley2009@
For more information about NLP and coaching see: