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 (Carr, 2015b).
The International Coach Federation, representing approximately 24,000 members around the world, defines mentor coaching as “coaching on coaching competency development of the applicant-coach as opposed to coaching for personal development or coaching for business development, although those aspects may happen very incidentally in the coaching for competency development.” (Marum, 2011). In other words, the ICF uses the term ‘mentor coach’ as a substitute for what almost all other helping professions such as medicine, psychology and social work call ‘supervision’ or ‘consultation.’
European coaching associations offer virtually identical ‘mentor coach’ services to help other coaches. However, the European groups refer to these as supervision, not mentor coaching. The EMCC, because their membership includes both mentors and coaches, uses a slash between the words mentor and coach as in “mentor/coach” when addressing members to indicate these are two distinct roles. The ICF, in contrast, uses the word ‘mentor’ before the word coach as a modifying adjective as in ‘mentor coach’. (The ICF also insists on displaying the role term with uppercase first letters as in “Mentor Coach.”)
Members of the ICF, supported by the ICF requirement for members to engage a mentor coach, have added this role to the services they offer. For example a recent promotional flier we received from two ICF-certified coaches titled their offering “Exclusive Mentoring in Advanced Coaching Techniques,” and another ICF member sent a promotional flier requesting coaches to sign up for a “6-Figure Practice Mentoring Program.” Both of these offerings required paying a fee to receive the ‘mentoring.
Coaching Supervision: In addition to confusion about and mis-use of the term ‘mentor-coach,’ there is considerable controversy now brewing in North American regarding the term “coach supervision.”