Hi meaningful leader,
Whether we are mentoring, or coaching a team member, colleague or friend, it is important to sharpen our ability to ask the right questions.
As leaders, it might be a natural response when someone approaches us with a problem or issue, to automatically shift into problem solving mode and start spitting out a detailed numbered list of action items that can quickly take them from point A to point B. Yet, for leaders it is important that we learn to discern when it’s appropriate to give an immediate solution and when a mentor or coach approach is required.
Mentoring is one of the most special gifts we can offer. Guiding and helping others sort through the different challenges they are encountering is not a job one can take lightly. When we are offering mentorship, we are walking the mentee through our path and sharing our experience. We walk them thought how we did it, and why. We let them in into our vault and share the do’s and don’ts of our journey as a way of paving a path for them.
Coaching requires a different approach. When we are coaching, our goal is not to lead the person to the path we think is most adequate for them, we ask them series of questions to help them figure it out on their own. In other words, mentoring is about our path and experience, while coaching is about the person’s self-discovery.
Questions are a powerful way to dig into what’s keeping us stuck and helping us uncover whatever, fear, habit or believe we are holding on to that’s preventing us from growing and advancing.
The tricky thing to keep in mind is that when we are coaching or mentoring someone, trust and vulnerability are going to be part of the conversation; therefore, we have to be mindful of keeping any level of judgement out of our tone and our body language in general. Instead, our approach should be curious and engaging, keeping front center that the goal of the meeting is to promote growth, and not to induce shame.
Helping others figure out what they need to do in order to move forward and grow, may require the peeling of several layers and that is never an easy, straightforward task. Open-ended questions like How does that make you feel? or how do you think you could have handled that differently? can trailblaze the exploration; while close-ended questions, like Do you find meaning doing this job? or Which one do you prefer? will help them make a yes or no decision and define a path to focus on.
Regardless of the question, keep always in mind that in order to mentor or coach , we have to create trust and that means creating a psychological safe space and leaving judgment and shaming at the door. Offering advice and guidance is a privilege and a way to pay forward the wisdom others have poured onto us. Career-wise, mentoring offers us a way as leaders to create a long-lasting legacy. Showing up for others, teaching and guiding them and building them up has to be one of our main priorities.
Thanks for reading and God bless,