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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 or what to best do to attract those 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.
Knowing you have another qualified, experienced and empathic coach who you can check in with before and debrief after a coaching session makes those early or tricky sessions so much easier and less confronting.
Having ongoing life coach mentoring or supervision throughout your coaching career, not necessarily with the same coach, can keep you professionally on track, challenged and up to date.
However, I don't subscribe to the edict, that to be a good coach you must have 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.
It's important to understand that they are not one and the same so you can make a choice as to which is going to deliver the best result for you.
A coach mentor is generally considered to be someone who has "been there and done that" and will give the mentee coach help and advice. They are experienced coaches who may work with you to enhance your actual coaching and/or help you grow your business with their experience in marketing or 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 mentoring 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.
It's worth checking if the 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 (Internation Coaching Federation) website has a Find a Mentor search function you can check out.
This is usually a much formal and structured process than mentoring. It takes the process to a much higher (and more supervisory) level than coach mentoring and requires a more stringent training and certification level. It is invariably more about enhancing coaching skills than helping with practice growth.
According to the information on the ICF (International Coach Federation) website ...
"Coaching Supervision focuses on the development of the coach’s capacity through offering a richer and broader opportunity for support and development. Coaching Supervision creates a safe environment for the coach to share their successes and failures in becoming masterful in the way they work with their clients."
Some coaching schools are now offering training and certificates or diplomas in coach supervision for experienced coaches.
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 page of Coaching Association listed at the end of this article (it's the last one).
It's important to know what you expect from either. So before you start interviewing, make a list of all the reasons WHY you want their help and what areas you want them to help you with. This will help you decide whether mentoring or supervision is your best choice.
Also what background and qualifications are you looking for.
Maybe you want your choice to be a coach who will:
For example, if growing your coaching practice is the main help you need, a mentor rather than a supervisor may be the answer. Someone who not only has great coaching skills but has built his/her own successful coaching practice from the ground up. In other words, you want a life coach mentor who had already walked the path you are embarking on and "been there and done that"!
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 mentor group for the graduates of Results Coaching Systems, where I had done one of my coach trainings. 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. So ask lots of questions - my suggestions are at the end of this section.
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 online using Zoom or Skype, even phone.
These questions are just a guide of questions to ask either/or a prospective mentor or supervisor and to get you thinking about what you need to know. Use, adapt or add to in your own words to suit your specific needs.
1. Tell me about yourself, what background do you bring to coaching?
2. What led you to coaching?
3. Do you have a coaching niche, specialty?
4. How long have you been supervising or mentoring coaches?
5. How many coaches have you worked with?
6. How would you describe your style - structured, informal?
7. Do you mentor me with my coaching skills as well as growing my practice?
8. What are your fees and terms of payment?
9. How often do you like to meet with your clients and are you available between sessions?
10. Do you offer a trial period
I hope all this helps you decide whether a life coach mentor or supervisor is best for you, and give you some confidence in finding your perfect match to hold your hand and help you advance through your coaching career.
And I want to acknowledge coach Liz Haeberlin for her input to this article.