Key terms and definitions
Coaching is a collaborative partnership between two people. It is a self-generating relationship and each conversation between the coach and coachee is designed to bring about a creative trigger to consider modifying usual patterns of thinking and acting so as to amplify their personal and professional capability.
The ultimate outcome is transformation of some kind either personally or professionally. Power should not matter in the coaching relationship; often the coachee has potentially greater power and status than the coachee. The coach doesn't need to be an expert in the coachee’s field: there are pros and cons for being and not being in a cognate discipline/profession.
The relationship is one of mutual exchange about the matters and issues concerning the coachee; it relies on equal interpretation by both parties. One interpretation is not privileged over the other. The coach can bring their experiences to the conversation although it’s not about them! The coach governs the framework in which the conversations occur, assuring its durability and function. Like all relationships and conversations it has a subjective and objective perspective and needs to mediated carefully.
Mentoring is a relationship based on trust with different levels of power usually between the mentor and protégé. Mentoring brings two people together with one giving guidance, support and encouragement to the other and like coaching happens in a range of contexts: personal, professional and organisational.
A typical mentoring relationship involves a more experienced person, a trusted counsellor and the protégé. The notion of ‘mentee’ is simply a descriptor referring to a person who has a mentor whereas a protégé conveys potential and untapped talent and therefore, with the more experienced person shaping the talent.
Mentoring forms the backbone of other learning relationships such as coaching, consulting and person-centred counselling, and shadowing others who are more experienced than the protégé. The mentor focuses on the potential performance, their relationships, leadership potential, and motivation of the protégé. S/he may offer advice, through questioning to assist the protégé in identifying and examining their goals and whether these are aligned to actions. However mentors should not try to persuade or coerce, rather encourage and challenge.
A mentor can advise about unwritten rules, provide information for navigating through policies and procedures as well as around barriers; how to deal with conflict and information about who is aligned to whom.
Networking is an actual and virtual grouping of people who understand the importance of engaging together to satisfy the need for professional contact, friendship and support. In this situation, it is an opportunity for women to develop relationships with each other and potentially assist one another in work and career purposes.
There are differences in how men and women approach networking. Men target and connect with significant others so they can meet people who will help them for professional advancement; whereas women tend to share ideas and use networking for social support – giving and receiving.
Sponsoring is mentoring with one key difference: the sponsor goes beyond giving advice and feedback. A sponsor is a mentor who has power and status leverage in a relevant network and uses their influence within formal and informal networks to advocate for their protégé. Sponsorship can make a positive difference in how a woman develops her career and moves upwards.
Sponsors can recommend women to be considered for opportunities as well as career and psychosocial support to enhance a woman’s professional and personal development.
Both mentors and sponsors can suggest further professional training and development.