(UPDATED) 12 Step Checklist - What to Look For in a Great Coach Mentor | by Barry Switnicki MCC, M.Ed

Coach with Mentor

It is said that great coaches have coaches. Even more importantly the best coaches have awesome mentors! So, if you want to become a truly masterful coach, one of the best and most effective ways is to plug in with a coach mentor.

But your choice of mentor is critical. At this time the ICF (International Coach Federation) has no certification for mentors so you really want to do your homework before you spend your hard earned money, time and energy. The last thing you want is to be sent in the wrong direction and then have to break the habit and relearn new skills to build your competency.

ICF and Coach Mentoring Update:

One thing the ICF have now introduced is a coach mentor listing service to help you find a mentor coach, and "the mentors listed in this directory have agreed to follow the ICF definition of Mentor Coaching, Best Practices for Mentor Coaches, and in many cases have completed advanced training that has prepared them to provide high-quality services to those that they are mentoring." The ICF provides this registry as a service to those seeking a Mentor Coach, but makes no guarantees!

In addition, the ICF have partnered with the Association of Coach Training Organizations (ACTO) to develop a document outlining the duties, personal traits and competencies of Mentor Coaches which is available here: Mentor Coach Duties & Competencies .PDF >>

What is a Coach Mentor?

As defined by the International Coach Federation a mentor coach is one who is:  Providing professional assistance in achieving and demonstrating the levels of coaching competency demanded by the desired credential level sought by a coach-applicant (mentee).

In my opinion, even more importantly:

A coach mentor should be someone who will support you to be a better coach with a minimum of pain, the greatest ease, effectiveness and fun. Barry Switnicki

The Ideal Coach Mentor

Coach Mentor helps you be an A Plus CoachYour coach mentor is someone with greater education and experience as a coach, who is also specially trained to support your growth and technical proficiency. The coach mentor will have an understanding of how you learn, be able to remember and relate to what it is like to be in a place of growth, sometimes feeling exposed and vulnerable.

The ideal mentor will have training and experience in the art of mentoring and supervision which of course is a very different skill set from that of a coach. Essentially a coach mentor must be able to listen to you coach, make judgements on how to best support you to increase your level of competency with an approach that will encourage you to feel great about where you are in your development, while motivating you to challenge yourself and grow in a measurable way.

Great coach mentors are always supporting a dance.

They are encouraging and even demanding, using skills that will keep you challenged enough to stretch without going over the edge into that dark hole of "I'll never get this" and "the best thing I could do is quit" while encouraging tasks that will build the confidence and motivation to reach for more!

Your ideal coach mentor will also "click" with you. I don't mean you will fall in love with each other but you will feel a natural respect, curiosity and warmth coming your way. You should feel you can communicate on a mutual level with a common vocabulary. Your ideal mentor will also have an understanding of the environment you are coaching in, both from a detailed action perspective, as well as from a systemic overview. These perspectives will also include the ability to see through the lens of best practice, ethical concerns and self-care.

And of course they should be able to use their coaching skills with YOU while mentoring YOU!

Here is Your 12 Step Coach Mentor Checklist:

  1. What is their coach training?
  2. Are they a certified coach?
  3. Are they accredited or credentialed as a coach by an organization such as the International Coach Federation?
  4. How many years experience do they have as a coach?
  5. Do they have training in mentoring and/or supervision?
  6. Do they have training in assessment of coaching skills?
  7. How much experience do they have mentoring?
  8. Do they have mentoring testimonials?
  9. Do they have past mentoring clients that you can speak to?
  10. Do they have a structured process of mentoring that focuses on building specific competencies in a measurable manner that aligns with industry standard such a published by the ICF?
  11. Are their fees consistent with their skill level?
  12. Do you "CLICK" with them?

So, do your research before hiring a coach mentor. Then you can look forward to a fast-track path to coaching mastery delivering a lifetime of benefit for you and your clients!

Click here to learn more about ICF Credentialing and the benefits of coach mentoring >>

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Contributing Author:

Barry Switnicki MCC, M.Ed.L. BCC, Cert. Con. Res. transforms leaders and coaches globally through coaching, training, coach mentoring and supervision.Learn more about Barry & see all their articles here >>

Image of Coach with Mentor by michaeljung via Shutterstock

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