I was coaching a client today about an upcoming job interview. There was a need to discuss answers to the question “How do you lead?”
One part of the answer had to do with a leader helping people grow in the job. I suggested three strategies.
Coaching is polishing skills someone already has. So, for example, my client had interview skills when we first met. Some of my coaching has been to polish those skills by giving her ideas about things she could do better in interviews and tips for putting ideas into practice.
Mentoring is about being an evolutionary elder. When you’ve been in some sort of organization for a long time you’ve evolved and learned about its communication patterns [think ‘snakes and ladders’ ]. That gives you the perspective to mentor others on how they can operate in the organization.
Training is about filling an empty vessel. When someone has zero ‘know how’ about a certain topic as you move them from zero to some knowledge about the topic [action, tactic, skill] you’re training them.
A good metaphor for how all this works in sequence is how we grow our children. At first, when the kids are younger, there’s a great deal of training going on to get the child started. Then as the child learns some aspect of the skills, but not sophistication, coaching can polish those skills. And lastly when they’re older and they have plenty of skills to do almost everything mentoring comes when you can use your evolutionary elder experience to direct them to the right way.