How do coach mentoring and coaching supervision relate?
To look more closely at the distinctions and similarities between mentoring for coaches and coaching supervision, I will use the International Coach Federation (ICF) as an example. Since the mid-1990s, coaching has used “mentors” to assist coaches in growing their skills, building their businesses, developing their foundations, preparing for certification, and reflecting on experiences. On March 25, 2010, ICF (2010) defined a form of mentor coaching, for credentialing purposes only, specifically:
For purposes of Credentialing, mentor coaching means an applicant being coached on their coaching skills rather than coaching on practice building, life balance, or other topics unrelated to the development of an applicant’s coaching skill.
This ICF definition applies primarily to credential applicants who have not been trained by an accredited coach training program, where the provision of observation and feedback to the coach in training would already been assessed. This specific form of mentoring is also required for renewal of the introductory Associate Credential Coach (ACC) credentials where a minimum of 60 hours of coach specific training is required.
Throughout the coaching profession, when credentials such as these are attained, coaches continue to mentor students and experienced coaches in the areas of credential preparation, professional and personal development, business development, and other areas (including reflective practice). In fact, until recently, in the USA the term “coaching supervision” had evolved into “mentoring for credential purposes only” as a way to distinguish it from more traditional forms of mentoring.
ICF (2012) further delineates mentor coaching from coaching supervision as:
One area of confusion around the concept of coaching supervision is about the differences in terminology, between supervision and mentoring. (Currently, ICF defines Mentor Coaching as coaching for the development of one’s coaching, rather than reflective practice, coaching for personal development or coaching for business development, although those aspects may happen very incidentally in the coaching for development of one’s coaching.) Having a clear definition of coaching supervision is important to help differentiate coach supervision from Mentor Coaching as defined by the ICF.
As this is the case, the ICF definition defines a specific type of mentor coaching and is not inclusive of all ‘mentor coaching’ that is used for coach development. The proponents of coaching supervision argue on the other hand that this is the only form of mentor coaching and thus there is a need for “coaching supervision” to meet the other needs. The current policy outlined on the ICF website states
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Coaching Supervision is distinct from Mentor Coaching for Credentialing.