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Keeping Cinderella’s coach from turning into a pumpkin HR managers often assume that the purpose of coaching is to increase managers’ performance. However, our survey of participants attending a pilot coaching session in the OWP revealed that this is not what executives want.

The difference between coaches, mentors and managers
Executive coachinginitiatives fail in part because the distinction between the role of manager, mentor and coach is not well understood. Each can each help executives meet their principal objectives—life development, leadership and self-awareness—but a manager, a mentor and a coach are not the same things.

A manager occupies a formal role within an organization and is responsible for ensuring that the primary tasks of the team/department/business unit/corporation are met. A manager can use coaching skills to informally coach a subordinate, but this “coaching” is in the service of the subordinate’s organizational task.

A mentor occupies a close interpersonal role and helps guide a protégé’s corporate career choices. A mentor can be a formally designated role or an informally acquired one. Formal mentors help their protégé understand the organization and support their journey within it, with the assumption of a long-term career in the company.

A coach is concerned with deep personal and professional development—the emphasis is on personal. The most effective coaches are external to the company, where they are independent of organizational pressure and political influence and free to offer more-or-less objective counsel and guidance.

The engineering and clinical approaches to executive coaching

Most corporate executive coaching initiatives take an engineering approach to human behavior using a conscious, rational and concrete approach. This method identifies areas for improvement and then applies tools, processes and procedures to increase performance.

Questions to ask
- How might I benefit from executive coaching?

- How might my company benefit from coaching?
- How can I integrate executive coaching? Team coaching? Peer coaching?
- How do I understand the difference between an “engineering” and a “clinical” approach to behavioral coaching?

Based on article written by Professor Jack Denfeld Wood in Oct. 2008
Jack Denfeld Wood teaches Orchestrating Winning Performance and Building on Talent at IMD

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