Jane Eckford M.A. (ST A), PGCE, FInstLM, FRSA
As a leader, you are required to confidently carry your people into uncharted territory, navigating any changes or challenges along the way.
It can be a lonely place, can’t it? After all, navigating uncertainty is the space where you will be operating as a leader.
The value of mentoring
As a leader, you will already understand the huge benefits to be had from encouraging the managers below you to become workplace mentors. You may, in turn, mentor your managers, asking directive questions to aid their understanding of the task at hand. You will encourage your managers to mentor their own teams.
Mentoring is all about passing down received wisdom. By mentoring, your managers share their knowledge to speed up and strengthen their mentees understanding of their role or impact. In return, they learn from the feedback they receive about workplace ambitions. The ultimate aim of mentoring is to align everyone in the organisation around its purpose.
Great mentoring is generally dependent on the mentor’s own workplace experience and expertise, as well as their understanding of ‘how things are done around here’. It is both situational and directive, with one output of mentoring is the speeding up of knowledge to a place of common understanding across the business.
But where can a leader look to for their own personal and professional development?
Coaching Vs mentoring
Coaching, on the other hand, is deliberately non-directional. The aim is not to achieve a specific workplace deliverable in the way that mentoring does, but rather to improve personal reflection and critical thinking.
A great coach seeks to create open-ended, appreciative enquiries to allow their coaches to examine their own actions in a challenging but safe space. This safe space is especially important for leaders who may otherwise not be able to explore options or thought processes out loud within their own organisation. In fact, the ambition of a really good coaching relationship is to practise the art of not knowing in order for leaders to fully explore their own potential.
Treading the line between coaching and mentoring
The feedback we have at Swush is that this safe space for better thinking is especially true in environments where leaders are leading cross-sectorally or across multiple disciplines.
That’s not to say that skilled mentors don’t ask great coaching questions. And great coaches are often experienced leaders in their own right. But we have to mentally observe and often resist our own internalised ‘expert script’ and to flag when we might be dropping from coaching questions into a mentoring ‘here’s a possible rule you might want to consider’ type of intervention.
It is really reassuring for the coaching client to know that their coach has experience themselves of leadership. But the relationship is one of exploration. The art of really great coaching is to really listen, to reflect what is said well, and to allow time for really deep thinking .
What do we offer?
Here at Swush Ltd, we have all be leaders in our field, and we are also qualified leadership coaches.
Of course, one size rarely fits all, and so we’ve broken down our coaching packages to suit leaders at different stages of their career journey. These include:
Executive transformation - perfect for those that want to take the next step in their professional development.
Intensive - two days of intense coaching that could change everything for you.
C Suite - An unlimited, bespoke coaching programme for those who’ve already achieved outstanding success.
With each new client, we see how by creating great spaces for appreciative enquiry, we are aiding the next generation of leaders to feel confident in the face of the unknown. It’s been our great privilege and pleasure.
If you would like to find out more about how your leadership could benefit from bespoke coaching, get in touch.