I was recently preparing an internal training program for mid level managers on the difference between managing, training, coaching and mentoring. The exercise was pretty simple. 4 sections, multiple scenarios where you would leave participants with a framework based around situational leadership (for those who know the model): what is the task at hand, what is the individual’s skills and motivation towards completing this task which then directs the leadership style that you will apply.

Let me be more specific:

  • For a new joiner coming into a business, you will automatically go into a training mode.
  • For an employee experiencing difficulties, typically you’d want to be more authoritative and directive in approach
  • For general “feel good”, motivating, skill enhancing conversations – coaching. This is where management needs to be 70% of the time.
  • For career development, mentoring.

And then I stopped. And started thinking….

How many times have I been asked “what do YOU think you should do to achieve x”. (massive yawn….) Most coaching models, especially those that are scripted, will focus on responsibilising an individual in a certain context. It is a fine art to actually be successful at coaching – especially if you rely on tools and ready build frameworks.

When mentoring someone, we are no only studying behaviours within a context, but more importantly focusing on the individual. Allowing them true authenticity in the relationship. As a coach, I mentor. We need to realise that as individuals we are just that. My framework/script does not take into account my client as they are in their own environment. My own framework of how life should or should not be lived does not matter in this context. True people development starts with the individual themselves. Ironically, guess what, people are not their behaviours….

Today, I have learned to pro-actively seek my client’s authentic selves in the context of coaching/mentoring. Next time you meet a client, I’d thoroughly recommend you consciously listen to yourself and find out where you may stand on that coaching mentoring spectrum…be surprised. Be limitless.