Executive Coaching: Transforming an Employee into a Leader — Enter the Mentoring Coach

Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Gary R. Gasaway (USA).

What is a Mentoring Coach?

A mentoring coach has an individual perspective that provides both insight and perspective in aligning an individual’s developmental goals with those of the organization. The mentoring coach has a horizontal/systemic perspective; which in turn, creates a direct avenue that matches the flow of business across several different functions.

One of the most valuable characteristics of the mentoring coach is that he or she provides an external mirror: models effective two-way communication and feedback to improve the performance of the potential leader. The mentoring coach also provides effective feedback on an on-going basis, so that the potential leader knows how he or she is performing in relation to goals and objectives.

Then lastly, the mentoring coach fosters self-insight. This personal insight helps the potential leader grow through introspection and feedback from not only the mentoring coach but from others as well. By fostering insight, it is more concerned with helping the potential leader’s take charge of his or her own growth. This action then also fosters accountability regarding personal growth in that the mentee is successful at learning and becoming a more effective leader.

Mentoring is a Relationship!

Mentoring begins when a mentee; or potential leader, and mentoring coach agrees to work together over time to help the mentee become more capable. It is a relationship powered by a shared commitment to learning and growing.

A mentoring coach is someone who helps a mentee learn for themselves and from other experiences. A mentoring coach is typically senior to the mentee, broadly experienced, and outside the mentee’s chain of command. Generally, a mentoring coach’s role is to encourage the mentee to stretch by taking a new course of action, to learn from it, and to apply the learning.

The mentoring coach creates the path for the mentee to expand his/her professional capabilities (abilities and experiences). This relationship is built upon mutual respect, mutual trust, and mutual learning which are the hallmarks of successful mentoring.

What Can Mentoring Do for the Potential Leader?

Mentorship is a powerful process. It is a partnership in which a trusted mentoring coach helps the potential leader learn first-hand, on the job. Mentoring helps potential leaders build the ability to transition to a new assignment in a fast-moving work environment. In this environment, the mentee’s network is improved, along with informal ‘rules of the leadership road’ are established. This is only possible because mutual trust, respect, and a feeling of being valued are created and maintained between both the mentoring coach and mentee. Learning and applying crucial new skills, build business acumen, and uncovering valuable lessons learned through continuous feedback sessions by the mentoring coach is vital for success.

It all starts with Showing an Interest in the Potential Leader — The Mentoring Coach

As a former mentoring coach at a large corporation, knowing what makes a good mentor was vital to the effectiveness to strengthen my mentee’s talents, knowledge, and skills to guide them towards potential leadership positions. Mentoring supports succession planning and leadership training programs by providing an opportunity for knowledge transfer and sharing of information by the mentoring coach. With the assistance from the mentoring coach, potential leaders and successors can be “groomed” and cultivated to take on higher-level responsibilities and roles and leadership positions.

Employee Development: Showing an Interest in Employees’ Careers

Talents, Knowledge, and Skills

The mentoring coach must have a foundation of understanding of their potential leader’s strengths before they can be effective in guiding them towards career goals. There are three areas that create strengths:

Talents — the employees’ natural recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior.

Knowledge — the employees’ understanding of facts and lessons learned.

Skills — the employees’ understanding of steps of an activity.

The combination of these three areas creates their strengths.


Each employee’s talents are enduring and unique. Each employee’s greatest room for career growth is in the areas of their knowledge and skills to enhance their talents. Once the potential leader’s talents, knowledge, and skills are identified; it is the time to understand the employee’s goals.

Understanding employees’ goals

Effective employee development depends, in part, on an understanding of a potential leader’s career goals. To focus on understanding these goals, ongoing communication is necessary. This communication becomes the link to performance feedback. The mentoring coach also must schedule periodic individual discussions with potential leaders to review their career goals. To be effective in this discussion, identify the following questions:

  • What are their goals?
  • What skills must they develop to reach their goals?
  • What do you see that supports or could be possible barriers that might affect these goals?
  • Are their goals realistic, considering their skill potential and position within the organization?
  • Are their career goals challenging enough, given their demonstrated potential?

If you agree that the employee has the potential to reach his or her career goals, together create a development plan for those goals. It is also important that if you see an employee’s career goal as unrealistic given current skill levels, point out where you see discrepancies and suggest other, more realistic alternatives.

Sharing career information

When potential leaders are aware of their opportunities towards advancement by broadening their knowledge and enrichment of their skills, they can make better decisions as to their career paths. The mentoring coach must provide all available career information to potential leaders. The following guidelines will assist in those efforts: Provide as much information as you can about current leadership positions within the organization that may be consistent with each employee’s goals.

Meet with employees to communicate skill requirements, additional education needs, and experiences that would help to qualify them for the leadership positions.

What are the Benefits of Mentoring Potential Leaders — Retention, Mobility, and Diversity

Mentoring benefits both the potential leader and the team, department, and the company. Its benefits are far reaching including developing skills, gaining experience, building relationships and sharing knowledge.


Potential leaders who are mentored are more likely to commit to a company because they feel the company is willing to further their development and career. Employees tend to leave companies when they don’t feel valued and/or provided development opportunities.


Mentoring can provide potential leaders with cross-functional experience and knowledge that enhances their ability to move within a company. This provides the company with talent that is flexible and responsive.


Populations that have not always been afforded equal development opportunities are given increased access to knowledge and growth through mentoring experiences.

Lastly, the benefits of mentoring go beyond development for the potential leader. The entire organization reaps rewards from promoting and fostering mentoring. Mentoring facilitates information sharing throughout an organization and the company. Information is pushed down as well as laterally and upward. Potential leaders gain information and experience and mentoring coaches can take on a fresh perspective. Information is shared and retained as generations leave the organization. For the mentoring coach, a legacy is made that will far outlast their employment.

About Gary R. Gasaway

Gary R. Gasaway is an author, keynote speaker, trainer, and a certified professional life coach.

As a retired manager from Southern California Edison, Gary used his natural talent for coaching and became a “corporate coach.” He has previously published: The Coach’s Chronicles — A Journey Through Life’s Trials and Triumphs and The Coach’s Chronicles II — It’s Your Story! Start Writing it! Gary’s third book: The Coach’s Chronicles III — Everything Matters, will be released in the fall of 2017.

Gary has a Bachelor of Science degree in Organisational Management and a Master of Science in Leadership and Management. Gary is the founder and owner of Conflict Coaching Solutions, LLC

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