What’s the difference between coaching, mentoring and self development? 

Coaching aims to unlock a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is a structured, one to one, future focused, purposeful conversation. It enables the coachee to find their own answers by working with an impartial, objective, confidential sounding board. (ie the coach)

Mentoring is a process whereby the coach uses their expertise to develop another person’s skills or abilities. A mentor leads, informs and guides by example or through their knowledge.

Developing people through planning and goal setting are established ways of ensuring that individuals move forwards in a structured and purposeful way, acquiring knowledge and experience to enable them to take on different roles, gain promotion or change career.

The coaching and mentoring I offer is a self help programme, helping with general self confidence, professional development, career development and personal development through the acquisition of personal skills.

A reflection from one of my clients about what coaching has done for him!

The coaching experience

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“When things are going well, I have always thought it important that you keep your feet on the ground: when the pace of business is so headlong that you take President Bartlett’s “What’s next?” as your watchword it is all too easy to lose the habit of self-examination, consideration and reflection. And when you hit a bump in the road – a difficult relationship, redundancy, dismissal – the shock can readily spiral into a fog of shock, defensiveness and self-pity.

In the former circumstance, perhaps there is no time or inclination to analyse the process; in the latter there will almost certainly be no real capacity to truly assess your position. And in both phases of my career I have found it helpful to turn to a coach to support me in that process of reflection, review and action planning.

I have worked with two coaches – with differing styles and approaches: one engaged to provide me with a sounding board while in a CEO position, the other to support me through a period following redundancy. In both cases, the ability to have a structured period of time in which the only task was to analyse my current status, how I got here and how I wanted to plan to move forward was a useful discipline – one that I would almost certainly never have found either time or inclination to pursue alone.

But a coach’s usefulness is not just in being a fixed appointment in the calendar – that you will turn up to an appointment more certainly than you will ever keep a promise to yourself. The experience of being coached also draws out a deeper and more productive set of beliefs about yourself – about your strengths and weaknesses, and about what to do about it. Or what to do with it – because it has rarely about trying to change, but more often about trying to identify what is really important to you – in your life, not just your career.

And one of the most surprising things is that the way you think can begin to change. Thinking about your own behaviour, your own habits, your ways of thinking and the effect of all of those taken together on your ability to pursue (or even identify) your goals in life. It’s not analysis, and it’s not therapy – but then I wonder whether quite a lot of analysis and therapy essentially works the same way: a scheduled opportunity to spend some structured time talking and thinking about yourself.

But the key takeaway for me in the process lies in the question I was asked as I set out another lengthy justification of an unproductive incident that illustrated a particular habit of mine. In a tone devoid of the slightest shred of judgement, my coach asked: “Do you find this behaviour helps  you get where you want to be?” Alasdair

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