Skillsoft Blog

Untangling the training, mentoring, coaching confusion

By Jim

For over three decades Jim Clemmer’s keynote
presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles,
blog and newsletters have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.The CLEMMER Group is Zenger/Folkman’s
Canadian Strategic Partner, an award-winning firm best known for its unique
evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders
and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.

Like “vision,”
“service,” or “leadership,” “coaching” has become a word that means different
things to different people.

Many people
think of the typical sports coach who’s a veteran of the game (often a retired
player). Sports coaches typically develop skills, guide improvements with
feedback and actively direct game plans. Other people talk about coaching and
mentoring in one phrase as if they were two sides of the same coin. And we know
of a few organizations where “coaching” means giving corrective feedback. So
having your boss say, “I’d like to give you some coaching” sends shivers up your

This wide range
of meanings is one reason that an organizational survey in a large telecom
company showed managers scoring themselves high on providing coaching while
their employees scored them low.

This chart shows
the improvement distinctions we’ve found between three key development

Developing Distinctions
Training Mentoring Coaching
possesses skills or information student lacks.
Senior person
conveys wisdom and corporate culture.
Coach could be
superior, subordinate or peer.
activity is transmission of information.
Mentor has
traveled the path mentee is seeking.
Coach does not
need same background or experiences.
relationship is typically temporary and narrow in focus.
connections, references and advice.
Enables others
to work through and solve their own problems.

We need all
three to lead our teams and organizations to peak performance. But if we’re
going to close the big coaching gap we need a clearer and shared understanding
of what exactly good coaching is.

Unlike sports
coaches, highly effective performance, career, or life coaches enable
“coachees” to work through and solve their own problems. Jack Zenger succinctly
outlines this critical approach in his blog Develop Subordinates by NOT Answering Their
Questions. He notes this
approach is adult to adult rather than the “teacher-student” or “parent-child”
approach found in many of the relationships that leaders have with their team

This definition
of coaching and the culture it builds is central to my webcast on Building Extraordinary Coaching Skills. We’re also providing Extraordinary Leader and Extraordinary Coach
public workshops
in May in
Calgary and Toronto.

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