The retired executive sat back in the chair and let me
talk through my idea. When I finished, he leaned forward, resting his forearms
on his thighs. He looked me straight in the eye.
“Let me ask you a couple of questions.”
As usual, the questions cut to the heart of the issue. As usual, they were
not easy to answer. Sometimes answering was downright uncomfortable. But, as
usual, when we parted that day, I had a new perspective on my goals and how to
I’d call that man a mentor, but we’ve never used the “m word.” We don’t meet
regularly and we don’t review my goals and all that, either. When I’ve got
something to discuss, we connect.
During the last fifty years, mentors and coaches have become part of the
career landscape. If you want to succeed, you’ll improve your odds by having
Now look ahead to the next fifty years. There are lots of skills to master if
you want to be a successful leader. One of them is coaching, or mentoring, or
whatever you want to call it.
Those terms have become almost interchangeable in common
usage. And as Chip Bell and Marshall Goldsmith point out in their new book,
Managers as Mentors
that won’t matter much as long as everyone you talk with shares the same
Whatever you call it, we’re talking about doing things that help your team
members grow, develop, and succeed. Increasingly, that will become the most
important part of your job, so you should set about mastering the skills.
Managers as Mentors is a good starting point. The authors give you a good
framework for understanding what coaching or mentoring is about and what skills
you should master.
Don’t stop there, though. Make learning to be an effective coach one your own
Boss’s Bottom Line
Coaching and mentoring will be more and more important parts of your job.
In addition to Managers as Mentors , here are two books and two blogs that
will help you improve your coaching performance.
I suggest you read The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven
Kramer and Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
by Carol Dweck. Those books will give
you insight into how learning and development can happen in a work setting.
Visit Mary Jo Asmus’ blog for insights into how coaching can and should work.
Here are three recent posts to give you an idea of what you can expect.
Ed Batista’s blog is very different from Mary Jo’s. The posts are longer and
less frequent. Here are two I like.