It's not just semantics LO6345

Rol Fessenden (
31 Mar 96 23:16:50 EST

Replying to LO6328 --

Coaching, leading, and many other words have been put forth as a means to
empowerment. I think it is rarely that simple. The road to empowerment
must be a complex one with many unexpected turnings, and a willingness by
the mentor to struggle to understand what is needed by the student and
then give it.

I once had a course on Situational Leadership which espoused this view.
The essence of the course was that the employee will need many different
responses from the mentor over time. As a brand new person with no
knowledge and experience, the employee needs -- and wants -- clear
direction. They are uncomfortable doing much of anything because of their
lack of knowledge.

As they progress they enter a second stage where they are comfortable with
the machanical aspects of their job, but perhaps not with the larger
issues of purpose and vision. Once they have the mechanical basics they
are ready to learn the purpose. With the purpose they can begin to
distinguish between situations and decide on their own how to approach
each situation. How to apply the mechanical tasks. At this stage the
mentor is no longer directive, but neither are they a coach. This is a
stage of conversations about the facts and opinions of a given instance.
How does this instance fit the vision, and what actions should I take.
The mentor is in the discussion, but at the end the mentor decides what
course of action to take.

In the third stage the employee knows what to do, and they know how to
implement the vision. They have the mechanical and abstract tools. They
are expert. They are also still in need of someone to direct them or at
least help talk through a situation from time to time. This stage most
clearly represents that of coach for the mentor.

In the fourth stage, the employee is a fully functioning professional.
This person may mentor other people, but they need no help from their old
mentor. The supervisor gives the tough situations to this person with
minimal instructions and guidance. The employee takes care of the
situation and reports back when done. This is a fully-functioning
professional. In this case, the mentor watches for new situations to
challenge the employee, and works to find new developmental opportunities.

Being a coach is one of these stages. In other stages, other skills are
needed. It is analogous to some extent with being a parent. The art of
parenthood is knowing when to let go and how much to let go. Learning to
ride a bike is not so different from becoming a fully functional,
high-performing professional.


Rol Fessenden LL Bean

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>