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In pursuit of potential

More and more often, FDs are turning to business coaches to enhance their careers. But what does a coach actually do, and how should a potential client prepare themselves for a coaching course? Anne Scoular explains.

Is there a difference between mentoring and coaching? Aren’t they basically the same thing?

AS: I would crudely define mentoring as traditional training, advising and consulting. Mentoring puts in skill and content. Coaching pulls out the capability that people have within. Of course at various times in our career we need different amounts of both.

To illustrate the relationship, I draw a St Andrew cross: at the beginning of your career, the amount of mentoring that you might need starts high in the top left-hand corner and then proceeds to go down to the bottom right. Usually, by the end of your career no one is going to tell you much, and you’re not going to listen anyway. Conversely, coaching typically isn’t so important at the beginning of your career – it starts bottom left of the graph and goes up top right, giving you a saltire.

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