Becoming a Coach or Mentor 2: Where Do I Start?

becoming-a-c-or-m-green-yellowBecoming a coach or mentor is a huge responsibility and making sure you get the right training and support is crucial.

But – where do you start? What do you need to be thinking about to ensure you are heading off in what is the right direction for you?

Even once you have decided to become a coach or mentor it is no easy task to discover what you need to do next to become qualified and credible. This difficulty is magnified if you are at the stage of just exploring whether or not coaching or mentoring is for you.

When coaching or mentoring an individual or a team, what you do – or what you don’t do – will have a significant effect on what happens next. If you are doing your job well then the impact that coaching or mentoring will have on an individual’s life will be profound. If it isn’t then what’s the point?!!!

Part of the difficulty – for you as an aspiring coach or mentor as well as for your potential clients – is that there is no requirement to have done anything to become a coach or mentor. Anybody can set themselves up as a coach or a mentor. It really is a case of buyer beware!

This is currently very different

. . . to other areas of work focusing on supporting people to move forward in their lives. For example, to become a counsellor or psychotherapist you have to be able to demonstrate that you have been appropriately trained and that you continue to meet the required standards technically and ethically. There is no such requirement in coaching or mentoring – although there is plenty of discussion about whether there should be. Over the last few years a number of the coaching ‘associations’ have come together to develop a common Code of Ethics/Practice. This is an important step in the right direction, offering some protection to both the coach or mentor and their client.

It may be that the explosion in the use of coaching and mentoring is one of the key reasons why you are considering becoming a coach or mentor. It might also be because those ‘buying’ coaching and mentor have an increasing awareness that . . .

‘there are coaches, coaches, coaches and coaches’
‘there are mentors, mentors, mentors and mentors’!

Organisations and individuals are becoming much more discerning about the questions they ask before engaging a coach or mentor. Typically, questions are asked about training and qualifications, the average number of coaching or mentoring hours a year you are doing, whether you have coaching supervision and how you keep yourself up to date.

So where can you go for help in making your decision?

There is no substitute for . . .

Question 1Talking to other coaches and mentors. If you look at any book on coaching or mentoring you will know that there are many different approaches and methodologies. Talking to people who are already coaching and mentoring will help you decide whether it is right for you and, if so, where you might want to begin your journey. They are also likely to give you some information about local coaching and mentoring networks many of which are happy for you to attend as a guest.

Question2Talking to people who have been coached or mentored. Knowing what the customer wants is always a good place to start. Ideally find a number of people to talk to as this will give you an insight into how varied the focus can be as well as a clearer understanding of the kind of training you might need. Three good questions to start off a helpful conversation . . .

What led them to be coached or mentored?

What did they find helpful?

Would they do it again?

The internet is clearly another place where you can access a range of different information. Starting points?

Question 1Awarding bodies that offer accreditation and/or qualifications in coaching and mentoring. It is important to make a distinction between accreditation that is offered specifically by one organisation and accreditation and qualifications that are recognised nationally. A good starting point is ILM as from their website you can view a range of programmes and access the names of organisations that offer nationally recognised coaching and mentoring qualifications through from Level 3 to Level 7. Even if you are not sure yet whether a qualification is for you talking to some of these providers will help you gain an understanding of what is possible

Question2Coaching and Mentoring Associations will give you access both to information on their website and to a wide range of taster courses. The 3 most well-known are the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC); Association for Coaching (AC) and the International Coach Federation (ICF). They are also a good starting point for Codes of Ethics and Good Practice

Question 3Companies offering coaching and/or mentoring services. Most of these will have information on their websites that give you a further view of the range of approaches to coaching and mentoring as well as to the different market places where you might want to ‘sell’ your services


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