As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there has been a huge amount of interest in coaching and mentoring in recent years: even a very quick internet search will offer you dozens of training courses, books and articles or people offering you coaching of one form or another. However, this short article is not about executive coaching, or any of the other independent coaching disciplines, but how the ability to use coaching skills effectively can be a valuable addition to a managers’ skill set.
So what is coaching? What is the difference between coaching and mentoring? And why do I call it the manager’s secret weapon?
Well, if you amend your quick search on coaching and mentoring to include ‘definitions of’ you probably won’t be surprised to find that there are almost as many definitions as there are results – in fact there is an old joke that says if you ask 10 coaches for a definition you will get 12 different answers!
Generally, however, there is an agreement that coaching is about helping another person to learn, rather than telling them what to do. Most learning professionals (but by no means all) agree that mentoring takes a similar approach, but from a position of experience or expertise – still not ‘telling’ people what to do, but sharing the benefit of their experience or expertise. There are other significant differences, of course, but the key point is that they are both based on the idea that the learner will be more successful if they take responsibility for their own development.
And how is it actually done? Again, there are a lot of different views on this, but most coaching models contain the same basic elements: “where are you now?” “where do you want to be?” “what are your options for getting from where you are now to where you want to be?” and then “which option(s) will you take?” This is often referred to as the GROW model (first described by Sir John Whitmore):
G for ‘Goal’, as in, what is it you want to achieve, what is your goal?
R for ‘Reality’, as in, what is the reality of your present situation?
O for ‘Options, as in, how many different ways can you think of to achieve your goal?
W for ‘Will’ as in, what will you do? (and when will you do it?)
So how is can this be a manager’s secret weapon? Well, by taking a coaching approach to team development, a manager can build a clear, shared understanding of what needs to be done (and why). That, in turn, enables them to delegate effectively. So, instead of having to issue a set of detailed instructions to each team member for every task, telling them exactly what to do, and then constantly checking up on them, the manager can discuss and agree a team member’s goals with them, and work with them as they develop, and take ownership of, their own solutions – all still supporting the team, department and organisation strategies.
Time and time again I have seen teams and individuals become more effective, more productive and certainly better places to work, as leadership teams have built a coaching and mentoring approach into their management style – and that, of course, can only be good for all concerned.
If you are interested in learning more, here at Oakwood International we offer a range of qualifications in coaching and mentoring: why not join our thousands of successful students in developing your skills and career this way?
Contact us for more information at email@example.com or call one of our expert programme advisors on +971 4 359 9020.
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