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Wendy Buckingham / Creator, Life Coaching Professionally
When you start coaching, your head is packed with information and coaching scripts and you may feel a bit nervous and unsure when it comes to going live with real clients.
So there are huge benefits in having someone more experienced to hold your hand and give feedback and advice as you get started and, if you need, continuing to be there for you once you are established.
And knowing you have another qualified, experienced and
empathic coach who you can check in before and debrief after the
session makes those early or tricky sessions so much easier and less confronting.
Having ongoing coaching supervision or mentoring throughout your coaching career, not necessarily with the same coach, can keep you professionally on track, challenged and up to date.
I would add though that I don't think having supervision or a mentor is a must. I don't subscribe to the edict that some say that to be a coach you have to ongoing have another coach to supervise or mentor you. But it's a great resource to have if you feel you need it and especially valuable in those early days of coaching.
Separating the functions of coaching supervision and mentoring may at first seem like
semantics as they initially appear to be completely interchangeable.
But there are significant differences and it is important to understand these so you can decide which will work best for you.
In a paper prepared on supervision for the conference of the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD), a few years ago I found this description of supervision.
"A structured formal process for coaches, with the help of a coaching supervisor, to attend to improving the quality of their coaching, grow their coaching capacity and support themselves and their practice. Supervision should also be a source of organisational learning.”
Coaching Supervision takes the process to a much higher (and more supervisory) level than coach mentoring and requires a more formal training level.
It is claimed to really enhance the experience of both the coach and the client.
Some coaching schools are now offering training and certificates or diplomas for experienced coaches in the growing specialty of supervision.
You can read more about coaching supervision on this page of the ICF (Internation Coach Federation) website. There is also an Association of Coaching Supervisors which you can check out on the related page of Coaching Association at the end of this article.
This is a much less formal process, though ideally it does have structure. A mentor is generally considered to be someone who has "been there and done that" and may give the mentee coach help and advice beyond supervision. The " there and that" may simply be that they are experienced coaches or it can include what they bring to their coaching, such as marketing or other experience in a particular coaching niche.
For instance, a certified mentor coach with a business background who specialises in coaching and mentoring small business owners, should be able to offer advice to the mentoree on building their practice from their own experience.
Many coaching schools have their own internal mentor programs where experienced graduates who have been coaching for some time can be engaged to guide those who have just qualified sometimes at not cost.
Personally, I found mentor coaching new coaches to be very rewarding.
Mentor coaches sometimes hold the credential "certified mentor coach" and may be accredited as such by independent associations such as the ICF which offers mentor coach certification for its credentialed coaches.
Check with your life coach training school: It's worth checking if coach training school you are considering enrolling in includes mentoring for graduates? Some accredited schools offer coach mentoring as a follow-up to their training, and have a list of coaches you can contact to set up the mentor/coach relationship. The ICF also has a Find a Mentor search facility of well qualified mentors you can check out.
Group Mentoring is a great option. Not only is usually more affordable to be part of a group than one-on-one mentoring but you have the opportunity to hear and relate to the challenges and wins of your your fellow coaches. Again some schools provide a free network of such groups that meet either face-to-face or by phone.
I once created a "Remote" phone coaching group for the graduates of Results Coaching Systems, where I was a certified coach. It was a great success in that it allowed regional and even overseas coaches, who could not get to a face to face meeting, to get together to share experiences and be mentored by each other as well as by me.
Different coaches may specialise in different areas of mentoring or supervision or be qualified enough to coach you through every issue that you, as a new coach, may have.
This checklist will help you find the right coach before signing up for mentoring or supervision. And they don't have to be local - the sessions can be just as effective when done over the phone or using Zoom or Skype, even phone to have your sessions.
I'd also recommend you read fellow coach Liz Haeberlin's experience My Path to Finding My Mentor Coach Liz describes the process that led to her ideal life mentor coach match and you can really learn from it.