A question I often get during chemistry sessions from Startup CEOs is “what’s different about coaching compared to mentoring or workshop training?”
This question usually comes from the legacy of accelerators and incubators where the main learning channel is mentoring with a predominant subject matter expert consultation.
Business coaching is not mentoring. The focus of coaching is about improving performance, in this regard executive (business) coaching is closer to sports coaching. As a result, a key feature of coaching is behaviour, supported by cognition and motivation. After all, the pillars of academia research in coaching emanates from concepts of self-efficacy, goal-setting theories, positive psychology…etc.
Such as when a client (coachee) is making progress towards their goals, it can increase their self-efficacy and lead to greater motivation to continue or making progress towards these goals, it can also create a sense of achievement and increase client motivation to continue working towards them…etc.
Mentoring as a learning channel whilst having similarities with coaching is different. A mentor has experience in a specific field and imparts specific knowledge and acts as an adviser, a guide — as the role of the coach is not to advise. Anytime we have the mindset of expert, mentor or trainer, we are in the power position in the client-relationship.
At BC Team Coaching, one of our main approaches is Transformational Coaching, a comprehensive and holistic approach to scaling up a startup for example, considering the individual, team, and organizational factors that impact growth.
Potential of Transformational coaching can be identified at those three levels:
(L1) The founder and his leadership behaviours, beliefs, and beings (Inner-Outer Selves).
(L2) The startup operational system, structure and processes improving its go2market strategy, business model and investor readiness level (IRL).
(L3) The broader innovation ecosystem
When applied to scaling, this approach can help to shed light on the interconnection of all the different aspects of a startup, and how they work together to support better alignment, increased engagement or make better informed decisions that impact the entire organization (see our landing eBook page: https://www.systemscoaching.co.uk/ or Amazon Kindle)
By considering the interactions between different parts of the organization, we can help our clients identify patterns and underlying issues that may be contributing to problems and develop strategies to address them. This approach can also lead to more sustainable change, as it addresses the root causes of problems rather than just symptoms.
At (L2), one of the foundational premises of BC Team Coaching is that most Series A/BRL 6–7 startups lack one or more essential parts; once that part has been identified and infused into the organization, it will flourish. If the coach is expected to be a Subject Matter Expert on anything other than the application of coaching skills, the client may be wanting a mentor, consultant or benefit from training/courses. This may be so if someone wants to increase their technical knowledge or expertise.
Currently, due to the global venture capital trends from seed stage companies attempting to get funding, we pivoted to a hybrid learning model — mentoring needs on Business Development Structure, Business Growth Models, KPI / OKRs dashboard, Inter-departmental Planning, facilitating a Management Team or Meeting Structure …this directive approach can be more efficient in certain situations where financial runway timing is of the essence or the executive lacks the knowledge or skills to solve the problem on their own. It can also be helpful if the executive is not interested in learning the skill or doesn’t have the time to invest in learning it. Startup clients often think they want someone who knows their industry, or has expertise in something they want to learn, and I understand there’s a level of comfort with that mindset.
However, with (L1) Transformational coaching (i.e. founder and his leadership behaviours and beliefs (Inner-Outer Selves*):
How do you mentor the greediness in the ecosystem that we witnessed with all the latest Fake it till you Make it lack of integrity scandals (i.e. FTX Sam B/Elizabeth Holmes..etc)?
How do you mentor the CEO’s vision of building a unicorn (build them big and sell them big SV mindset) where the underlying issue can be an unconscious dream for the CEO’s inner child to get their parent’s acknowledgement finally?
This is where coaching plays its role with the personalized guidance of the coach working on mental models, vertical learning such as beliefs systems (i.e., imposter syndrome, fear of failure) or value-based leadership — the inner-outer selves of the client. In this case, the Entrepreneurial Coaching with its reflection and action-based learning methodologies as opposed to the Expert-Consultation side of Mentoring is more impactful as a learning methodology.
Coaches help individuals find their own solutions with an objective perspective on strengths and weaknesses for improvement, rather than offering them subjective advice or opinions. The best lessons in leadership come from observing, talking with, and getting feedback from others.
Our approach is rooted in action-based learning and focuses on the transfer of knowledge and skills from the coaching sessions to the actual work environment. This helps businesses bridge the gap between theory and practice, making their learning more effective and leading to tangible results.
From these different levels, each startup learning needs are unique so both mentor and coach can play a valuable role in helping people to grow and develop, but their approach, focus, and perspective can be different.
Reflect on what type of coach or mentor you’re looking for and most of the time, from my experience, a hybrid approach from a Professional Accredited Coach and experienced mentoring will yield the most positive results.
Notes: *The Power of Coaching and Neuroscience "Coupling these two provides a deep impact emphasis of self-awareness about how one’s brain is wired to process information, learn and create habits while simultaneously using that awareness to dismantle self-limiting beliefs, doubts, anxieties, narrow perspectives and biases. This enables a new road map to be created that will form positive habits, thoughts, perspectives and actions." https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2021/02/17/seven-ways-neuroscience-based-coaching-can-give-you-the-edge-in-2021/?sh=7f4a8ae8242e