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

What is Mentor Coaching? A Perspective in Practice

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According to ICF guidelines, the Mentor Coach is expected to demonstrate these personal traits:

  • “Is trustworthy and has the ability to develop empathy with the coach.”
  • “Is someone who encourages the learner to reach beyond what the coach initially feels is possible. Assists the coach contracting the services in broadening his creative process.”
  • “Demonstrates equal partnership by being open, vulnerable and willing to take appropriate risks; for example, in providing feedback that may feel uncomfortable.”
  • “Has the ability to be supportive and authentic in celebrating the learner’s achievements and growth throughout the process.”
  • “Is secure in their own work and is able to demonstrate appreciation and respect for the unique style of each mentee.”
  • “Encourages the development of the learner’s own coaching style.”
  • “Is willing to encourage regular and mutual assessment of the effectiveness of the relationship.”

To summarize, the Mentor Coach is expected to demonstrate a higher level in the behaviors an effective professional coach should deploy. It is worth recalling that the Mentor Coach is a role model for the coach and needs to exhibit the deployment of ethical and professional parameters defined by ICF. For example, they must be effective in the development of the coach-Mentor Coach agreement. Also, they need to display effectiveness when establishing trust and intimacy, when creating the special empathy needed for coaches and when offering them support to help them open and show their vulnerability and willingness to explore both their weak and strong aspects in regards to the deployment of the competencies.

The Mentor Coach needs to be self-confident and needs to trust the coach and the Mentor Coaching process, and they also needs to be an expert at providing feedback, as this is one of their most important activities. It is worth pointing out that a coach may be utterly effective with his clients and ineffective in the role as Mentor Coach. This is because the competencies required for each role are different. This is why we consider it is relevant for mentor coaches to receive training and to participate in programs in which they get the chance to develop and enhance these specific skills.


  1. Hawkins, P. and Smith, N (2006) Coaching, Mentoring and Organizational Consultancy. McGraw Hill
  2. Goldvarg, D., Perel N. Mentor Coaching en Acción (2016), Granica.
  3. ICF website. www.coachfederation.org
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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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