By Carey Goryl, Executive Director, ASPR
Finding the support we need
Much of my career has been shaped or influenced by mentors and coaches. As I sit down to write, I’m looking at the books on my desk: Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women (2016, W. Brad Johnson, PhD & David Smith, PhD), Co-Active Coaching (2007, Laura Whitworth et al.), and the HBR Guide on Getting the Mentor You Need (2014, Harvard Business Review). In this edition of JASPR we also feature an article about the benefits of physician mentoring by Julie Phelan. I’m also preparing for a presentation I’m giving at my professional association’s annual conference called Peer Mentoring & Formal Coaching. To say this topic is top of mind is an understatement.
What did I learn from those books and other articles? That mentoring isn’t rocket science. Resources like these are great reminders of things I think we intuitively know. Such as:
- You need to be proactive. Good mentors rarely just appear at a time when you need them.
- The title mentor is not something you give yourself; rather it is something to be earned.
- The best mentorships are those that are reciprocal and collaborative; both people benefit from the experience.
- Crucial factors in a mentoring relationship include trust, humility, and boundaries.
Mentoring and coaching are fundamentally different conversations. At the core of mentoring is a chance to explore a challenge or growth area and benefit from someone else’s perspective or wisdom. In coaching, the focus is on discovery, awareness, and choice. A coach is someone who doesn’t offer their perspective but rather uses curiosity to help the other person identify their own choices. Coaches especially will use the art of holding someone accountable for their choice for added effectiveness.
In preparing for my presentation (co-presented with two other association executives and a professional coach), my primary takeaway is to remind other executives that these relationships must be intentional. They are different than two people forming a friendship and helping each other along the way. To be a mentor or a mentee, a coach or a coachee is a role to achieve an outcome.
I hope you find our article on mentoring for physicians to be helpful as you create and develop your retention programs. And even more importantly, I hope you consider what mentor or coach you may need to feel fulfilled in your life at home and at work. And if you’re serving as a mentor to someone else… Bravo!