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What’s the difference between CIO Coaching and CIO Mentoring?

As a business CIO Development Ltd offers both coaching and mentoring services delivered to and sometimes by CIOs. And sometimes our CIOs can be coaching whist at other times they are mentoring. This can cause confusion so let me try to clear it up here. First let’s look at the difference between a CIO coach and a CIO mentor.

A CIO coach or a CIO mentor?

In our corporate world of International Coach Federation accredited CIO coaching, a CIO coach is somebody who has received professional development (a minimum of 125 hours of formal training) and developed professional skills in helping a CIO to perform at his or her best whilst navigating through the rigours of their executive roles meeting new challenges along the way.

The result of a good coaching alliance is a level of performance that the CIO client could not have managed alone, and possibly thought they would never be capable of achieving. The coach in almost all cases could never have achieved such a level of performance, the main reason for which is that they have never been a CIO nor even worked as an IT professional.

This is a very different case from that of CIO mentoring, which has to be delivered by an experienced and ideally current CIO to someone who wants to be closely guided by a practicing CIO in whatever role the client is currently engaged in.

So the key difference between CIO coaching and CIO mentoring is that the first is delivered to a CIO by a professionally trained coach and the second is delivered to a client by a professionally experienced and currently practicing CIO.

CIO coaching as doing not being

It can get even more confusing if a specific CIO mentor has professionally developed and accredited coaching skills. These CIOs are very rare but we have at least one of them working with us in the CIO Mentoring Scheme. In his case he will sometimes be coaching (drawing out from the capabilities of the client things the client didn’t even know he or she knew or he/she could do) and sometimes sharing experience and stories of what happened to our CIO mentor when he was facing a similar situation or problem.

In reality all executives have base level skills in both mentoring and coaching, just as they have a certain level of skills in both managing and leading. We can go further I think, in that CIO Mentoring probably lies closer to the management skills set and CIO coaching is closer to the leader skills-set. Leaders and coaches don’t tell, managers and mentors sometimes do; which is why we have to take care to ensure that our CIO mentors are carefully selected for their world-class CIO skills and experience.