In my previous post I introduced the notion of differences between coaching, mentoring and other related disciplines. I’ve had several comments from people asking to help clarify this further. There are plenty of books that deal with the subject in-depth and my intention here is to provide an overview to help position where coaching sits.
The following diagram shows where coaching fits within a spectrum of support options for an individual. Each support option (managing through meditation) serves a distinct function depending on what a client needs at that particular point or as part of an ongoing package of support.
The diagram further highlights the distinction of whether this support is focussed on extrinsic (external) or intrinsic (internal) solutions. At the managing end, this is where someone is focussed on delivering a specified outcome (e.g. achieving a sales quota) through an individual or team. They oversee and manage through support and direction, hence they provide external support. At the meditation end, this is more reflective and focussed on the internal aspects (e.g. how an event made the person feel or how they might see themselves operating in the future).
The extrinsic approach provides for a focus on performing better against a known entity. The intrinsic approach allows the exploration of potential or thinking how they might be different with a reframe of how they internalise their experiences.
The diagram’s author Mick Cope, sees coaching as a collaborative process, whereby you help the client to help themselves. It’s important to note that each of the support solutions within the spectrum offers a different approach to an individual engaging with an issue. The decision to use anyone of them is going to be based on a number of factors. These include factors such as the individual client and their expectations and needs, the issue to be dealt with, and the available support to the organisation (i.e. existing HR scheme options; current budgets; training and existing skills; and company values amongst others).
There are also differences in the makeup of each support solution. This can include training, certification and/or regulation, and payment. For instance, coaching can be part of a manager’s role and in-house or it could be a paid for private coach that a client is working with. Mentoring should always be strictly voluntary. Therapists or counsellors might be in-house, provided by the NHS or private medical provider, or privately paid for. Managing or teaching may be in-house or also contain a private element for specific subject matters (e.g. specialist sales or software trainer).
Mentoring requires no formal training or qualifications and many mentors work from experience alone. Others may have undergone training from limited hours to extensive options. Coaching can be self-taught, formally taught or through online courses. There are more academic Masters level programmes now available. There is a wide range of quality and emphasis across courses. Therapists typically require more formal academic courses combined with supervised sessions and ongoing continued professional development.
Knowledge is subjective though and the training has to be contextual to the circumstances. There’s a difference between reading a book on survival and living in the wild for real. Some people have all the theory and not enough practice or the other way round. We would always advocate meeting and talking your needs through with any support agency you were thinking of engaging and seeing if there is a fit. Ask questions as needed and check references. At the end of the day it’s about results – whoever you engage must deliver results and be able to explain how they intend to work with and why they’ve chosen a particular approach.
The core take home for me is the assertion that ‘coaching’ is about helping the client to help themselves. Hopefully, this article easily shows where coaching fits on the spectrum of support.
We’ve chosen to share our thoughts and views on coaching and business success through this blog to help inform potential clients and others who are interested in the subject. Feel free to talk to us if you have any further questions.
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 Cope, M. (2004) The 7 Cs of Coaching. Pearson Education, UK.