There are many similarities between coaching and mentorship, the most important being that they both concentrate on developing potential. Both involve support, questioning, development, commitment and encouragement. Mentoring, often provided from within an organisation, provides the opportunity for the junior of being able to follow in the footprints of someone more experienced, traditionally older and wiser.
If you struggle with grasping the differentiation, then consider a sports coach – they could be outsiders who are secured for their ability to bring out the best in a sports team. They arrive twice a week for the team practices, and are present on the day when the going gets tough, at the matches, shouting direction from the sidelines and providing motivation at half-time. After the game they congratulate the team or if there is a loss, they identify the weak spots. Executive coaching requires the same principle.
A coach is a facilitator, a supporter and not a friend. It is preferable, but not essential, to have someone who has knowledge of your industry. They should listen, guide, inspire, motivate, direct and challenge you to ensure personal growth. Coaching happens through a series of goal-directing conversations that are outcomes-based, with the coach responsible for direction and the client responsible for action. There are two types of coaching – formal or fixed agenda (a professional, specific process working towards specific outcomes) and free agenda or informal (philanthropic process without definition and therefore more challenging). Coaching can be further broken down into quality enhancement, and competency building.
Coaching will help you to:
- extend your personal development
- upgrade your efficiency and effectiveness
- enjoy external deliberation and processing of your ideas, conflicts and challenges in an environment of security and trust
- stimulate change and a paradigm shift, assistance in thinking differently before instigating different action
- allow someone to help you focus on the solution, rather than the problem at hand
- have a partner in achieving your goals in terms of success, focusing on action and accountability rather than pure activity
- elevate your productivity
- develop and drive a succession plan that outlines where to next for you and your team
The bonus of formal coaching is that the objectives are outlined initially, and evaluated eventually. The outcomes of professional coaching can be seen in leaders who show more confidence in their decision-making. In turn the leaders will foster engaged and motivated team players so that there is ultimately benefit not only in personal productivity but also in team productivity as a whole.