Have you ever wanted someone to support you in realizing your dream as an aspiring professional in your field?
Have you ever had a mentor in your life?
In the coaching field, there's a lot of discussion now about the roles of coach mentors. As with mentoring in any professional field, a very important function of coach mentors is helping less experienced coach clients fine-tune the quality, breadth, and depth of their coaching. This also includes coach mentors who support coaches applying for professional credentialing through the International Coach Federation (ICF). Additionally, coach mentors may offer coaches practice with integrating non-coaching skills into their coaching (e.g., business development, cross-cultural awareness).
As a credentialed coach and certified mentor coach (as defined by ICF), I'm very glad to be part of the mentoring wave flowing through the coaching profession. I very much enjoy mentoring coaches in the areas mentioned above. In addition to mentoring other coaches, I, too, have received valuable mentoring at certain times from other coaches whose professional expertise I trust and from whom I want to learn.
A mentor from my mentor coach certification training, Marion Franklin, MCC, introduced me to more nuanced ways of listening to my clients, which allows me to have more fluid coaching conversations with more useful outcomes for them. My current coach mentor, Ian White, Life Fulfillment coach, has an open, imaginative mind and always helps me find new, creative directions with my coaching. I have monthly sessions with him to keep my coaching skills sharp and effective.
During one session with Ian, I mentioned that I'd been feeling vulnerable from some challenging event in my life. Because of that, I felt I was at a new level with my coaching, but wasn't sure what it was all about. Ian identified this transition as "transformational, like starting a blaze!" That image was so vivid to me that I realized, "Yes, this why I coach. I'm keeping the spark alive! I help my clients reach for what is alive in themselves to make positive changes in their lives."
Throughout the ages, mentoring— the passing on of survival and working skills from one person to another— has been the primary way that humans have learned how to navigate successfully the tricky terrain of staying alive and retaining cultural legacies into the next generations. As the world of work diversified, people became apprentices in different trades or professions. The more promising candidates were mentored into journeymen or mastery when they were considered competent and able to set up their own businesses.
These days experienced teachers, professors, and corporate managers and executives may be called on to provide mentoring to less experienced employees and students to help them learn to work more skillfully within their departments or organizations. Many mentors invite their mentees into important networks for developing professional contacts leading to speaking, publishing, and/or teaching opportunities.
In what ways do coaches need coach mentors?
We coaches invest a great deal of ourselves in helping clients open their vision for their future, align their career and life planning with their values, find new opportunities on which to base new choices, and motivate them to go forward. Helping our clients keep the spark alive to make changes that matter in their lives is rewarding and sometimes demanding work. Periodically, we coaches benefit from skilled mentors who remind us just what it is about coaching that we love to do!
As both coaches and teachers, coach mentors challenge their coach clients to move to the next level of excellence in their work by giving them clear feedback about their coaching interactions with their clients. They inspire their coach clients to expand their reach in helping their own clients understand and make the changes they really want. Coach mentors remind their coach clients to be curious and open to new perspectives that can help their own clients grow and evolve with consciousness and clarity.
What makes mentoring such an effective learning experience for both the coach mentor and the coaching client?
As Lois L. Zachary says in The Mentor's Guide,"Learning on the part of both mentor and mentee grounds the work of mentoring. It is the reason we do it, the process we engage in during a mentoring relationship, and the outcome that both mentor and mentee seek." As both a coach mentor and a coach receiving mentoring, I know and look forward to the mutual learning involved in these relationships. Mentoring other coaches also affirms my connection to, and appreciation of, the profession and process of coaching as an alive and authentic way of helping people create meaningful changes in their lives.