Working With A Mentor Coach

by Nina East

If you are considering hiring a mentor
coach, then you are already committed to
your professional growth and to delivering
outstanding service to your clients. A strong,
effective working relationship is essential
for you to learn and grow and ultimately
it’s best for your clients as well.

The relationship you have with your mentor
coach will be different from your relationship
with other coaches you may hire. Your mentor
coach will be helping you practice, expand,
and refine your coaching skill. For this
reason, a mentor coach is more like a trainer
or teacher, providing clear, specific supervision
and instruction on coaching methods and

Selecting a mentor coach can be an exciting
and daunting project. Not only do you have
to identify the right person(s) to work
with based on your specific needs, you also
have to build an effective relationship.
For many coaches, this is the first time
they have hired another coach, and it is
important to know what to expect. This will
help you make the right hiring decision.

So what should you expect from
a mentor coach?

  1. A good mentor coach gives direct
    with specific examples
    and clear alternatives. You may need to
    prepare for this. Mentor coaches, while
    kind and compassionate, are there to help
    you improve your skills and the results
    you are getting with clients. If you tend
    toward the sensitive side, discuss this
    with the prospective mentor and get a
    feel for their style.

  2. A good mentor coach tells it
    like it is
    . It is imperative
    that a mentor coach is comfortable giving
    you the tough feedback and doing so in
    a way that is helpful and productive.
    You should expect your mentor coach to
    support their points with clear, specific
    examples. They should be able to tell
    you what is working—and why it is working.
    Likewise, they need to be able to tell
    you what is not working and why. If they
    can't do this concisely and directly,
    they may not be the best mentor coach.


  3. A
    good mentor coaching relationship is a clearly defined relationship.
    Without clear definition,
    there is too much room for misunderstanding
    and unmet expectations. The experienced
    mentor coach will initiate this discussion
    at the beginning. You’ll need to
    know at least: How often will you meet?
    How often can you contact your mentor
    between sessions? How will you receive
    feedback (written, oral, or a combination)?
    Be sure the mentor you select makes defining
    the relationship an early priority.

  4. Good mentor coaches hold themselves
    to high standards
    . The best ones
    continue to work on their skill development,
    as well as personal and professional development.
    Ask your prospective mentors what they
    do for their own professional development.
    They should be able to answer this easily.
    Hopefully their answer will inspire you
    as well. Most of them will have mentors
    or a highly accountable mastermind peer

  5. A good mentor coach helps you
    choose what to focus on
    a coaching session. A mentor coach is
    what I like to call an "intimate
    outsider." They are outside your
    business, but have an intimate knowledge
    of your coaching and its effectiveness.
    They are committed to your success, and
    so collaborate with you in designing the
    mentor sessions. While you should always
    arrive prepared, your mentor should as

  6. A good mentor coach has the ability
    to transition the relationship

    when appropriate. At some point, you and
    your mentor coach will stop being mentor
    and protégé, and the relationship
    will transform into something else. Often
    mentors and protégés become
    peers or collaborators on projects. Sometimes
    the goals of the relationship are met
    and it is time to find a new mentor. Either
    way, you should expect your mentor coach
    to handle this with grace and ease. The
    best mentor coaches will talk about this
    at the beginning of the relationship.
    They won't be making any promises, but
    they will talk about the possible “exit
    scenarios,” which will give you an
    even greater sense of their integrity
    and style.

clear about your goals. Establish bench
marks for the process. Be prepared for your
sessions, and take advantage of the process.
The right mentor coaching relationship can
make your business blossom.


About the author:
Nina East is the founder of
and the Lead Certifier for the International
Association of Coaching. To hear tips on preparing for coach certification
using IAC Coaching Masteries™ and get tips on
certification, visit


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