Coaching: A Different Approach to Mentorship

By   |   May 18th, 2017   |   0 Comments

Guest Blogger: Amy Crippen, Agriculture Future of America


AFA asks questions. We genuinely value curiosity and learning. Our current question is this:
Let me explain. Almost a year ago AFA launched the Leader Fellowship™ experience which partners a young person and a coach. Part of the relationship is geared toward direct mentoring and part of the relationship is geared toward direct coaching. These are very different skills, and as we have developed, we have had to think through models that serve both needs.
Mentoring tends to be directionally-based: “Do this.” It is position-led and can look a lot like good supervision. It is performance oriented, and the mentor tends to be viewed as a role model. It sounds like “Try these things to solve your problem.”

Coaching is quite different. It is discovery-oriented and outcome driven by agreed upon objectives. It is far more relationally based and is developmental in nature. It is rooted in how the brain learns and requires flexible skills from the coach in every single interaction. It looks more like a collaboration or partnership. Coaching tends to be slower and deeper. It requires more reflection on the part of the young person and sounds like, “How do you think you should handle that problem?”
When an organization large or small decides to meet internal development, the intention is generally threefold:
1) To build cross-discipline knowledge sharing
2) To build relationships
3.) To build bench-strength skills
Both coaching and mentoring require personal learning to reflect on experiences, ideas and relationships to improve performance, relationships and outcomes.
So back to our question. How is our QR= 10C?
This formula teaches that in any relationship (client/supervision/mentoring/coaching) the QUALITY of the RELATIONSHIP is equal to the last 10 CONVERSATIONS.
Think through the last ten conversations you’ve had with someone specific. Ask yourself these questions:


  • Did we deepen the relationship?
  • Did we learn from one another?
  • Did we develop more trust; and therefore our ability to take risks?
  • Did we innovate?
  • Did we manage a tough project?
  • Do we feel better prepared?
  • Did we evaluate and reflect on how we are doing?

If your organization is considering building a mentoring process, or you just want to reflect on
effectiveness, consider the QR= 10C formula to assess the quality of current relationships.
This is the question an organization would lead with in one-on-one and group conversations to
assess the systemic need and general assessment of organizational desire. If staff determines
the quality of conversation is less than their ideal, it is time to make changes across the
organization to increase skill, communication and staff engagement. And don’t forget,
mentoring can go in any direction. At AFA, we hire very talented young team members. They
continue to mentor us to be smarter and faster in all we do.
If you’d like to learn more about our coaching program or serve a young person as they grow,
please contact us at


Learn more about the benefits of a functional mentorship.

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