As leaders, when do we mentor and when do we coach? – updates from the Facebook groups

Vikkey Chaffe
Vikkey Chaffe
As leaders, there are many people who naturally expect leadership and direction from us, but when do we need to mentor and when do we instead need to coach?

This week I attended a course for the DfE Women Leaders in Education. The topic on the table was how to coach. This begs the question – how do you coach when people simply want mentoring?

We know that there is a fundamental difference to mentoring and coaching. Mentoring is giving people the answer that they are seeking. For example, we become mentors when helping to direct newly qualified teachers by answering everything that they ask (and a lot of what they don’t). We do this to help them grow into the best practitioners that they can be.

Coaching however is very different; this is where you facilitate the practitioner to come to their own answers. You help them come to their own conclusions about situations and how to deal with them. This gives the practitioner the chance to have ownership and give them the skills to process problems and have the confidence to know they can find out the answers themselves.

This in itself is difficult. How do you coach someone who just wants to be mentored? As leaders, we know and can differentiate between the practitioners that need to be mentored and those that need to be coached.

However difficult, we need to have the confidence to know that the practitioner needs coaching and has the ability to reach the answer on their own, they will never grow if we just fall back on mentoring. We have a duty to give our staff the skills to grow and coaching, however hard it may be, feels the right way to do it.

What do you think? How do you know when to decide between the two learning methods? Please let us know in the comments below or in our Facebook groups.

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