Because mentoring is a big part of the value you offer your coaching clients, mentor skills can be crucial to a coach’s success. Mentor skills are learned through education, experience, and interaction with clients and peers. These skills can often be synonymous with coaching skills.
You Won’t Master Mentoring Skills Overnight
Learning how to be an effective coach takes hard work and time. Each component of a coach’s toolbox takes time to acquire, develop, and perfect. Beyond the mastery of a tool, each coach will develop their own style and focus, similar to that of an painter, actor, or musician. Many coaches will include mentoring in their palette of tools and use them liberally. Although some coaches believe that mentoring is outside of the realm of coaching, the mentoring style (and skills that go along with it) are a perfectly valid form of coaching. Could you imagine an olympic coach who doesn’t mentor their athletes? A fitness or weight loss coach who doesn’t advise their clients on specific ways to improve their strategy?
Mentor skills, and the greater category, coaching skills are perfected, modified, refined, and perfected some more over the entire career of a coach. Skills are honed while working with clients, in coaching classes, and during seminars and workshops. The refinement of these mentor and coaching skills won’t happen in a weekend, or in a week, or a month, or a year.
6 Effective Mentor Skills
These skills will be worked on for the rest of your career – even if you think you have them perfected, there will always be something new to learn. The sooner you get comfortable with these skills, the sooner you will be on your way to a successful coaching career.
- Active listening: This is one of the most important skills for a coach as well. Active listening involves full engagement with the client, which includes complete focus on the words, the tone, and the context. It also involves understanding body language and offering appropriate feedback and good eye contact. Active listening for both the coach and the client is essential for maximum success.
- Open mindedness: Everyone has opinions and biases, and is prone to prejudgment, but a coach has to subjugate these feelings and thoughts when working with a client. A coach must keep an open mind, and be aware of any of their biases that came into play when helping a client.
- Tough and insightful questioning: The ability to effectively question a client is at the core of good coaching. Tough questioning is the best way to dig deeper into an issue and to come to the right solution. Questions eventually lead to answers, and the right answers eventually lead to the ideal outcome for your client
- Honesty: A coach must be honest with their own abilities as well as offering complete honesty to each and every client. Honesty, as in any relationship, is critical if you want that relationship to make real progress. There’s so much at stake in a coaching and mentoring relationship that you simply can’t be effective without being consistently honest. You need to ask honest questions, provide honest answers, and help clients reach an honest assessment of their circumstances, issues, obstacles, and goals.
- Awareness: As a coach, you must have tremendous awareness of your client, the situation, and yourself. To be aware of who your client is, what’s going on, and who you are, will undoubtedly assist you in helping your clients reach their goals.
- Assessment: Every businessperson, leader, and coach must be able to assess the performance of their people. A coach must have the ability to assess and measure their client’s performance accurately and honestly. Once you’ve assessed, communicating that assessment becomes the ‘tip of the spear’ in adding value to your client. Assessment is one of the most important yet overlooked mentor skills.
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