Booming times have arrived for the International Coach Federation (ICF) mentor coaches. With recent changes to the Associated Certified Coach and Professional Certified Coach certifications, there are a lot of stressed coaches who need to find a mentor coach to support them in their quest to get certified.

How do I find a good mentor coach? This is the question I get asked frequently.

Mentor coaching is more than just combining coaching with teaching. It also goes beyond the role of a traditional mentor who is there for you from time-to-time and who focuses mainly on your personal development.

Listening to a recording and telling the coach how they have performed is not enough. An ICF mentor coach goes further.

ICF defines mentor coaching as;

“For purposes of credentialing, mentor coaching means an applicant being coached on their coaching skills rather than coaching on practice building, life balance, or other topics unrelated to the development of an applicant’s coaching skill.” You can read more about ICF

A few years ago, I was a mentor coach for about 45 coaches in the process of getting their ICF certifications. Many of these coaches passed, some did not and quite a few did not complete the process at all. At the time, I used the knowledge I had from my coaching school and readings. That was it.

While I did have the advantage of serving on an ICF certification and accreditation work group, I still had no framework for how to approach mentor coaching. In retrospect, I was doing a lot of training rather than mentor coaching. Training gives you information but coaching anchors what you’ve learned and creates awareness for how you should proceed. Things started to get complicated when exam time rolled around and ICF received complaints that mentor coaches were not up to par.

After this experience, I decided it was time for me to be better informed about mentor coaching and get trained as a mentor coach by a renowned coaching school.

While I made this step to further my coaching education, many mentor coaches do not. Many mentor coaches provide guidance based only on their coaching education and readings. While success levels may vary from coach to coach, I am a strong believer that mentor coaches should be certified.

I am saying this not only because of my experiences, but also based on lessons learned during my certification as a mentor coach and while running my own mentor coach training program, International Mentor Coach Training Program: Going Beyond Models.
Two common problems I noticed from coaches were a lack of structure in their coaching and a shallow understanding of the ICF Core Competencies. Often, mentor coaching becomes about the process of certification rather than improving coaching skills.

This brings me back to the initial question: how do I find a good mentor coach?

Before I share my top nine tips for finding an ideal mentor coach who suits your needs and will help you grow your coaching skills, you’ll need to examine your reasons for why you want to work with a mentor coach. Your aim needs to be crystal clear before you start looking for one.

A mentor coach will help you:

• Dive deeper into the ICF core competencies.
• Hone in on your blind spots so that you become aware of how to manage them.
• Improve your coaching skills.
• Learn to let go of models and school jargon.
• Understand where you are in your coach development and where you want to go so that you can set a development plan.

For a mentor coach to be effective and support you, they need to:

• Be able to look beyond your school training and support you, letting models and school jargon go.
• Have a thorough understanding of the core competencies and, whenever needed, translate them for you.
• Be an excellent listener, one that can listen on multiple levels.
• Understand how feedback works, its impact and how to deliver it.
• Have a deep knowledge of the exam requirements as well as how grading works.
• Support you in refining your coaching skills.
• Create an equal partnership between professionals.
• Understand cultural and diversity issues, as coaches often work with a broad range of clients.
• Be a certified mentor coach.

Once you understand what you need from a coach and how they can help you, here is what you need to know to make a good choice. My tips are based on my experience but also on my conversations with coaches and mentor coaches.

1. Know the reason you are hiring a mentor coach and what you want from them.
2. Find out how they intend to work with you. Look for how are they going to support you in your growth and development of your personal style.
3. Find out what they “really” know about ICF and credentialing process.
4. Ask about their experience both in coaching and mentoring.
5. Make sure their ICF certification level is one higher than yours.
6. What is their mentor coaching process like? How do they make agreements, connect with you, how many recordings will they listen to, how much verbal and written feedback will you receive?
7. Do they work with groups or individual coaching programs?
8. Let them give you some feedback on the spot – this will help you know if they are a good fit.
9. And, if possible, find a certified mentor coach.

Interested in honing your skills?

The International Mentor Coach Training Program: Going Beyond Models, starting September 8th, is designed specifically to anticipate and prepare mentor coaches to mentor coach-clients to meet ICF requirements.
Learn more here.