One of the fundamental obligations we have as parents is to fully prepare our children for successful functioning in the real world. One of the fundamental obligations we have as Mentor Coaches to our clients is to facilitate successful functioning in the real world.
Our clients recreate with us in Mentor Coaching a process that shows us exactly what it is like to be them, demonstrating in the process of the relationship the issues that most need to be addressed. This means that the CEO will activate in the relationship with me the precise issues as in the executive suite, a glass ceiling in leadership, or a challenge of conversational, social, or emotional intelligence. See my blog We’re Always Teaching Others for a case illustration.
In order to be able to discuss anything and everything needed for optimum success and performance, the crucible must be a powerful working alliance with the client. This foundation allows the client to know that I have 100% of his or her best interests at heart, totally dedicated to the client’s success. It allows me to collaboratively offer explicit feedback, illuminate unconscious biases, focus on blind spots, address outdated attachment patterns or limiting behavior styles.
Like parents, as Mentor Coaches we have to put our egos in a blind trust—to not take anything personally—in order to create a working alliance that allows us to say everything that someone needs to hear in a collaborative, nonjudgmental way. The work in this relationship will likely make a major difference for the rest of the client’s life.
Here’s a version of that from parenting. When both my children were very young, I told them that I would never lie to them, and would always believe everything they told me, knowing the responsibility that placed on them to always tell the truth. Many years ago on a Father’s Day, my son’s last before leaving home and starting college, I found a letter from him at my bathroom sink. A passage in it addressed his perception of saying everything we need to say, and of how our beliefs create our realities:
“You never lied to me and I have never lied to you. Sounded stupid at first, but as time passed it became more important, and I realized that I never would. This is a relationship few others have ever had.”