When you are following your values, you will be happier, have better work/life balance, and really enjoy what you do. As an executive coach, my job is to make sure your values and work are in alignment. Sometimes, though, clients and prospects confuse what I do as a coach with what mentors do. In this post, I’ll focus on the differences between these two roles and how you can get the most out of a coaching relationship.
The Coach’s Role vs. the Mentor’s Role
Coaches and mentors serve different purposes. Mentors lead by example and provide input that is, by and large, soft and supportive. Mentors usually don’t want to be critical because of their relationship to you (personally or professionally) or because of their relationship with your mutual friends.
Coaches are supportive, too, but they can afford to be more honest and critical. They can ask questions that mentors feel like they already know or should know by now. In addition, coaches can better imagine themselves as your customers, clients, and coworkers–people who are just getting to know you or work with you. That’s because coaches don’t come with preconceived notions.
As importantly, if not more so, is the fact that you can be completely open with a coach. Coaches are bound by client confidentiality. You can’t always be completely open with a mentor. Their obligations, in terms of confidentiality, tend to be more gray, and they tend to be in more contact with your coworkers and personal circles.
Your Agenda vs. the Coach’s Agenda
Your coach works for you. Coaches are hired, not operating on good will. That’s why you should always feel comfortable making suggestions and dictating the course of your work with a coach. It’s also why you should be leery of a coach that tries to force an agenda on you.
The fastest and best way to reap rewards with your coach is to be honest. Put it all out there. Talk about your values, your concerns, and your dreams. Your coach is there to listen and help you clarify your values and use them to overcome problems and achieve dreams.
Measure Your Progress
Insist on accountability measures. Emotional Intelligence 2.0, 360 Feedback, and Energy Leadership Index are some of the many quality assessments that you can use to get real feedback. Make sure you and your coach are on the same page about how you’ll measure results. You can start by sharing a vision of where you’d like to be, why, and by when.
Stay the Course
Like any relationship, a coaching relationship will take some time to build trust and rapport. Building trust and rapport will allow you and your coach to better understand your reactions and how others react to you. Typically, it takes three to six months for a coaching relationship to bear significant fruit. Results depend, of course, on how often and how long you meet with your coach, as well as your willingness to be open and work toward new aims.
Start today. Ask a coach.