Becoming a Coach or Mentor 4: 10 Helpful Questions to Ask

becoming-a-c-or-m-green-blue10 helpful questions to ask when you are thinking about becoming a coach or mentor . . .

As we have explored already, making the decision to become a coach or mentor – a role which is a step up from the use of coaching and mentoring skills as part of your day to day work – requires careful thought. This is especially important if your plan is to set up your own practice or to become a full time coach within an organisation.

When I am approached by people interested in becoming a coach or mentor I give them what I hope are 10 helpful questions to ask themselves.

1 Do I know what I mean and what others mean by ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’?

If you were to ask 10 people what they understood by these terms you would almost certainly get 10 different answers. Knowledge and experience of both coaching and mentoring is very patchy and often based on hearsay or on experiences way back in the past. Both of these disciplines have come a long way and coaching, in particular, is seen increasingly as a high profile and high value activity in many successful organisations.

2 Do I know the difference between coaching and mentoring and other similar activities such as counselling, mediation, psychotherapy and training?

While these ‘helping’ activities are often described as being on a continuum the reality is much less well defined. They all hold a number of skills in common and require a similar level of understanding. What is different is their declared purpose and also the regulations surrounding – or not surrounding – them. Once you know their purpose you can make an informed decision about the right route for you

3 Do I want to develop coaching and mentoring skills to use as part of my work or do I want to become a coach?

There is a lot of difference between these 2 routes and often people confuse the two

4 What knowledge, understanding and skills relevant to coaching and mentoring do I have already?

This may include some previous training in coaching and mentoring or may be the result of experiences and expertise you have in other areas that are directly relevant.

5 Do I want to become a coach or a mentor or be able to do both?

There are many views about the difference between coaching and mentoring. The main difference is that a mentor will have knowledge about the environment or the job relevant to the person they are mentoring. They are likely to have ‘been there, done that and got the tshirt’!

6 Am I going to be an internal coach or mentor – i.e. coach or mentor in the organisation you work in – or am I going to want to set myself up as a coach or mentor?

The training – to enable you to have the relevant knowledge, understanding and skills you need – will be the same. What you may not need in an organisation is external validation to be seen as credible.

7 Am I going to ‘sell’ my services as a coach or mentor and, if so, what do I need to do to be seen as credible?

The key for you is to know your market. What will those people buying your services require you to have achieved? What will you need to be able to show them to reassure them of your capability and competence?

8 Do I need a qualification? If so at what level?

This is a complex area as currently there are so many different routes to becoming a coach or mentor. Treading through the vast amount of information available can feel a bit like wading through treacle. Again – the key is for you to know your market and also yourself. Also – to understand the difference, for example, between a programme that is accredited by a specific training or development company and one that is accredited through a national awarding body. And, more crucially – to know the difference between an accreditation and a qualification.

9 How well do I know myself?

Being an effective coach or mentor is dependent on you having an in depth understanding of self. This is why we spend a great deal of time on Optimising Coaching development programmes supporting participants to learn about how they see, experience and respond to the world.

10 Will I enjoy being a coach or mentor?

The most crucial question of all!

If you would like to discuss your aspirations to become a coach or mentor without obligation, please contact me or to find out more about Optimising Coaching’s programmes, please follow this link >>

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