Home Concepts Best Practices What is Mentor Coaching? A Perspective in Practice

What is Mentor Coaching? A Perspective in Practice

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Damian Goldvarg, Ph.D. and Norma Perel, MCC

This article aims to define Mentor Coaching and share best practices taking into consideration ICF standards and sharing our personal experiences and practices of six years mentor coaching more than 200 coaches in 15 countries from all continents. ICF generally defines Mentor Coaching as the “professional assistance necessary for the coach to achieve and demonstrate the levels of coaching competency demanded by the desired credential level,” and it explains that “during this process, feedback is provided on the development of the skills demonstrated in a session, and it is deliberately not provided on the general professional practice, the life balance or other topics unrelated to the competencies displayed.” If we look closely at this definition, we spot several elements to consider:

  1. Professional assistance necessary for the coach to achieve and demonstrate the levels of coaching competency demanded by the desired credential level.” The mentor coach has developed expertise to recognize when specific skills are present or absent during the coaching performance so they can provide feedback to the coach. Currently, there are different expectations for different levels of coaching mastery and Mentor Coaches can identify the gap between performance and expectations and work with a coach to develop skills to breach the gap.
  1. During this process, feedback is provided on the development of the skills demonstrated in a session, and it is deliberately not provided on the general professional practice, the life balance or other topics unrelated to the competencies displayed.” Providing feedback is the main task of the mentor coach. The feedback should be provided in a respectful and supportive fashion and facilitated as a dialogue rather than a monologue. We differentiate Mentor Coaching from other practices such as Coaching Supervision, focused on the reflection on the professional work of a coach.

 

Mentor Coaching and Coaching Supervision

ICF has developed some guidelines to differentiate these two complementary practices that are essential parts of the educational path of any coach during his development as such. One of the important differences between both activities is the depth of the work on the coach as a person.

In Mentor Coaching, the professional’s skills are analyzed (either face-to-face or by listening to the recordings of the sessions) along with their ability to demonstrate the skills during a session with a client. All the work is focalized into the recognition of the presence—or absence—of the skills demonstrated on that session and the comparison to the expectations set for each level of accreditation acknowledged by the ICF: ACC, PCC or MCC.

In Coaching Supervision, on the other hand, the analysis is more profound because the focus goes beyond the coach’s skills, in an attempt to explore the field around the coach’s “who.” This work implies going deeper on their own personal fears, difficulties and challenges they will have to accept and those they impose on themselves, the objections to themselves, the identifications that might undermine their optimal performance and any potential projection into clients such as the identification of the coach with client.

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One Comment

  1. Rey Carr

    September 24, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Members of the coaching industry continue to blur the boundaries between roles through the increasing use by coaches of the term “mentor” as in “mentor-coach.”

    Whereas in the past, coaches made an effort to
    distinguish themselves from mentors (often writing short articles on the differences between the roles), now many coaches have added that role to their repertoire of practice.

    For the most part, the addition of the ‘mentor – coach’ accolade to their resumes seems to be a way to elevate their skill status and promote and market their services to other coaches. The irony here is that acting as a mentor has been historically and is currently a free or completely volunteer service. Mentor-coaches have ignored or rejected this key element of mentoring and charge a fee to work with other coaches. In so doing they have again expanded the scope of their practice, added to the confusion about the difference in roles, and, rather than referring to their work with other coaches as supervision or consultation, have added the status, but not the accuracy of mentoring to their own scope of practice.

    In the article by Goldvarg and Perel, they provide a definition of supervision in order to distinguish it from mentoring, and in so doing try to justify why a ‘mentor coach’ is not acting as a supervisor. However, very few people with experience as supervisors would agree with their definition of supervisor. They basically equate supervisor with a therapist. In addition, very few mentors would agree with their narrow definition of a mentor in that mentors often probe personal areas to determine their relevance to performance and outcomes.

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