The Five Steps to Coaching & Mentoring Success


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An effective coaching process requires that goals and expectations are clearly understood. It is essential that the employee being coached receive all the appropriate training based on his job responsibilities and future developmental needs. Behavior observation, communication and finally behavior modification are essential to success at coaching. This includes feedback and reinforcement.

1. Set clear goals & expectations. Setting goals and objectives is no easy task. They must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. (SMART) Goals and objectives are the very first step in effective coaching. The employee should participate in this process. After all, the goals should be specific to that individual and they must take ownership. As goals or expectations change, it is your job as coach to communicate these changes to your employees. The goal should be negotiated, not dictated.

2. Training. To be an effective coach, you need to understand the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. This includes a thorough understanding of their training needs and accomplishments. Do they have the necessary skills and knowledge to accomplish the goals and objectives that have been set? Making sure that the employee has the opportunity to get the required training to develop their skill set is a prerequisite to effective coaching.

One of your basic Challenging responsibilities as a coach is to identify the skills and knowledge the employee needs and then arrange for the appropriate training.

3. Behavior Observation. How does the employee react to a crisis? How do they handle themselves when they are placed in leadership situations? How do they react to peer pressure? As a coach observing the employee’s behavior and noting specifics that need attention and discussion is a primary responsibility. It is important that you collect and record both positive and negative performance along the way to add credibility to your feedback.

4. Feedback Meeting with the employee regularly to discuss performance and other issues is absolutely critical to their development. The key is not in telling the employee what to do but it is helping the employee find the answers on their own. This can be done by asking very specific thought provoking questions. Make sure you give the employee kudos for all the positive behavior you have observed.

5. Positive Reinforcement. Believe it or not, employees want to be held accountable. If we re going to hold employees accountable, they have to know how they are performing. Specifically we should emphasize the positive aspects of their performance. Focusing on the good things an employee accomplishes will motivate them to continue to do good work, and in turn will ensure repeat performance. This is often called an adaptive feedback loop. It’s About Leadership

Make no mistake, coaching and mentoring is about leadership. It is difficult to be a coach or a mentor without leadership skills. Coaching and mentoring is all about the development of others. It requires effective development activities and projects related to current and future performance expectations. It requires the unique ability to recognize potential skill and ability in others that is worthy of development. A good coach or mentor possesses an innate ability to motivate and inspire others to achieve stretch goals. They have the ability, the knowledge and the sensitivity to generate an adaptive style according to the individual and circumstances at hand earning respect and trust. Some of the key characteristics of coaches and mentors include the following;

Development of Others:

  • The ability to help employees determine the skills and abilities necessary for growth

  • Recognizes potential for leadership

  • Creates appropriate development plans

  • Skilled at constructive feedback

  • Avoids the role of enabler and holds people accountable

  • Rewards and recognizes success


  • Believes in the ability of employees and empowers them

  • Provides opportunities for employees to develop

  • Allows employees to take credit for success

  • Provides guideline but does not get in their way


  • Exceptional listening skills

  • Maintains eye contact

  • Takes notes

  • Assures understanding by asking for clarifications

  • Restates communication often to strengthen understanding of issue

  • Uses servant style body language that is open and non threatening
  • Speaks clearly and concisely

  • Asks questions

  • Maintains a positive attitude at all times


  • Demonstrates high self esteem and regard for others

  • Encouraging attitude and concern for individual feelings

  • Acknowledges accomplishments

  • Always talks positive about others

  • Aware of his own limitations

  • Motivating influence

    Decision Making and Follow Through:

  • Commits to a course of action

  • Makes decisions openly

  • Accepts responsibility

  • Establishes priorities

  • Sets completion dates with expected deliverables

  • Anticipates needs and takes action

  • Takes calculated risk but considers all aspects of the issue

  • Develops alternative solutions

  • Keeps appropriate people in the loop

    Most of us are not born leaders. We are not adept at communication. However, a good percentage of us long to become leaders of men and make deep connections in our careers that lead to commitment, a commitment to success. For family owned organizations, leadership is passed on from generation to generation. To achieve objectives, each generation must understand the following basic principles of leadership.

  • Honesty

  • Integrity

  • Respect

  • Trustworthiness

  • Sincere concern for others

  • Willingness to take calculated risk

    Once these principles are learned and practiced, leverage of these leadership skills to develop the management team is the next step. Lead Wolf family executives that have gone through the evolution of change understand this and they are clear as to what their responsibilities are.

    “The true test of a successful leader is that he leaves behind the conviction, the will and the understanding to carry on. ”

    Dr. Rick Johnson ( is the founder of CEO Strategist LLC. an experienced based firm specializing in leadership for wholesale distribution. CEO Strategist LLC. works in an advisory capacity with company executives in board representation, executive coaching, team coaching and education and training to make the changes necessary to create or maintain competitive advantage. You can contact them by calling 352-750-0868, or visit for more information.

    Rick received an MBA from Keller Graduate School in Chicago, Illinois and a Bachelor's degree in Operations Management from Capital University, Columbus Ohio. Rick recently completed his dissertation on Strategic Leadership and received his Ph. D. He’s also a published book author with four titles to his credit: “The Toolkit for Improved Business Performance in Distribution, ” the NWFA & NAFCD “Roadmap”, Lone Wolf-Lead Wolf—The Evolution of Sales” and a fiction novel “Shattered Innocence. ” Rick’s next book due in November is titled; Lone Wolf – LEad Wolf The Evolution of Leadership

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