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Mentor Coaching

Mentor Coaching: observation of YOU in coaching situations, with feedback – in a plus/delta format – on your coaching through the lens of the ICF Core Competencies.

Do you…

  • find yourself “stuck” in certain client situations, and wish you knew other ways to create breakthroughs for both you and your client(s)?
  • seek to take your coaching up to a new, higher level?
  • want to expand your “coaching toolkit” yet without having to take another training program?
  • sometimes doubt your own coaching competence, and long for some strength-based feedback to help you remember what brought you to coaching in the first place?
  • wish you had an objective observer “in the room”during your coaching who could help you see yourself as a coach?
  • find yourself curious about how to move out of your head and coach more often from your gut, and your heart – as well as help your clients engage their full self in their coaching?
  • need a positive student coaching experience for yourself, even as you fulfill your requirements for your ICF credential?

Two of the biggest obstacles to your providing extraordinary coaching for your clients are: lack of confidence about your skills, and lack of awareness about what you are doing – or not doing – during your coaching conversations. As a mentor coach, I provide support for your development in BOTH of those areas.

If you are looking for any of the above, read on – for you can achieve all the above and more when you work with a good mentor coach who knows how to create a positive, appreciative feedback conversation AND consistently support you in coaching to a higher standard.

Margarita Plasencia“When I decided to apply for my Coach Certification, it had been a year since graduation (from coach training). I felt I needed to refresh my skills so I enrolled in Jim Smith’s Mentor Coaching Program. Once we began the sessions, I realized how out of practice I was! I knew then I could not pass certification on my own.

The group coaching was very well structured and of great value as it prepared the way for the individual meetings. During our One on One’s, Jim assessed my recorded coaching sessions and provided me with coaching and insights well beyond the preparation for certification. Jim’s style is transparent, his coaching is right to the point, and his approach is very supportive.

As a result of my experience with Jim, I was able to pass my certification on the first try, and I am a stronger and more confident coach now. I highly recommend Jim not only for certification preparation, but also for professional growth as coach.”

Margarita Plasencia, Miami, FL, USA

Why use Jim as your Mentor Coach?

I started coaching clients in 1999, and when I started out I was awful! Oh, my clients loved me, and they got results. But I had no idea what a good coach could accomplish, because I was totally unaware of what I did NOT know! Once I fell under the influence of a Master Coach in 2003, I became inspired to learn as much as possible about my chosen craft.

Along the way, I developed a passion for helping others become better coaches, for I believe our profession only gets better when each individual coach rises to the top of their game! As the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts ALL ships.”

I have served as a Mentor Coach since 2009, following intensive training with a stellar Master Coach who is herself an ICF assessor. I have provided Mentor Coaching for the Newfield Network (an ICF ACTP training school) in their US, European, and Asia (Singapore) programs. I have also conducted Group Mentor Coaching Sessions for the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland (also an ACTP through the ICF), and provided Mentor coaching for individual clients in the US and Asia.

I consistently receive overwhelmingly positive feedback on the value that my mentoring provides toward helping student coaches grow in their craft.

Anja Salehar“The amazingly positive and constructive way Jim has been as my mentor coach really helped my development while being a beginner coach to the point where I successfully graduated from Newfield TAPOC programme in June 2011 and feel I can really serve my future coaching clients. I highly appreciate his dedication to the relationship by giving me all the time needed, discussions we had around my concerns and learning, sharing his own valuable experience and resources, and his honest and constructive feedback on observed coaching calls.

I am grateful for the gift of Jim being my mentor coach and recommend hiring him to those that are looking for a real partner in the journey to mastery of coaching. ”

Anja Salehar, Slovenia

How Mentor Coaching Works

Simply, I observe you coaching real clients, and we debrief your coaching conversations immediately following the observation, focusing on the process (not the content) of that session, and within the ICF Core Competency framework. I help you become a better observer of yourself – how you showed up in that coaching session, how you served your client, etc, so that you can, in the future, show up differently and expand/shift your coaching for this and other clients.

Observed coaching can be done in several ways:

  • Live and immediate. Coach, client, & mentor come together on a bridgeline or video conference call. The coaching session occurs, the client signs off, and the debrief follows immediately.
  • Via recording. Coach records a coaching conversation, and submits to mentor coach for review. We listen together, and debrief immediately.
  • Group session. In a group situation, participants typically coach one another on real issues, with real-time feedback from the mentor coach for the benefit of the entire group. Occasionally, the group might be joined by a client who has agreed to be coached “on stage.”

Ilana Acchoti“A huge Thank You, Jim, for being my mentor coach: for being available and present, for being seriously supportive with lightness and authenticity, for being direct with me… for sharing your insights and your own experiences, and for your generosity and kindness – for all the extra time that you put in our conversations.

Thank you for seeing through me and hearing what was on and what was missing. Thank you for teaching me to embrace my self with patience and kindness, as a beginner and a new learner, and for reminding me to remember to take care of me.

Through our work together, I have been able to access new territories of learning, and to own new learning about myself as a whole person, and about my clients. Thank you for witnessing me and for allowing a safe space for me to grow wiser as an aware human being, as well as a coach.

The work with you has made a significant impact on me.”

Ilana Acchoti, United Kingdom

Fee/Program Structure

Tier 1: Ad hoc, or ala carte coaching:

  • Each occurrence includes up to 30 minutes of observed coaching plus 30-60 minutes of very specific feedback and coaching for you ABOUT your coaching.
  • Will support you to demonstrate competence at ACC or PCC level, assuming you “do the work” of applying what you are learning in sessions with your current client base**.
  • Fee: $250/occurrence, with payment in advance of each session.

Tier 2: ICF Preparation Package, Individual

  • Ten (10) sessions of Mentor coaching. At least four sessions will focus on each of the ICF Core Competency Clusters and how those show up in a coaching session.  Package will include between three and six observed coaching sessions — 30 mins of coaching/recording plus 30 minutes of very specific feedback and coaching for you ABOUT your coaching. Sessions usually spread over 2-6 months (and I can be flexible about how long it takes to complete all ten).
  • Will support you to demonstrate competence at ACC or PCC level, assuming you “do the work” of applying what you are learning in sessions with your current client base**.
  • Fee: $2,000 for the entire program. Payment is 50% up front, 50% at middle of agreed-upon contract term

Tier 3: ICF Preparation Package, Build Your Own Team

Per ICF guidelines, your ten hours of prep time can include seven hours of group Mentor coaching and three individual hours. If you would like to share the cost and the experience of honing your coaching, you may bring together a group of no more than eight coaches and contract as a group.

  • Ten (10) sessions of Mentor coaching, of which three are individual sessions and seven are group calls.
  • Each individual session consists of up to 30 minutes of observed coaching plus 30 minutes of very specific feedback and coaching for you about your coaching.
  • Group sessions are usually 60-90 minutes and will include several iterations of coaching with feedback to the person who was in the Hot Seat. In a group coaching session, everyone benefits from both the feedback AND the experience of observing thru the lens of an ICF observer.
  • Four of the group sessions will include a review of the four ICF core competency “clusters,” including tips on how to master each and what not to do. Practice coaching will focus on the competency cluster being studied in that session.
  • Will support you to demonstrate competence at ACC or PCC level, assuming you “do the work” of applying what you are learning in sessions with your current client base**.
  • Fee: $2,000, plus $600 for each additional person after the first.** Payment is 30% up front, and terms will be arranged based on the group makeup and duration of program.

**for example, if you create a group with three, it would be $2000 plus $1200 = $3200, or $1067 per person. For a group of eight, the fee would be $2000 plus $4200 = $6200, or $775 per person.

Notes: Group sessions can be conducted face-to-face in NE Ohio or in other locations by arrangement. For in-person sessions, participants must provide a space. For phone sessions, I can provide a bridgeline and will record and archive the calls for later review, or we can conference via Zoom.

**NOTE: 100% of coaches who have worked with me and subsequently submitted recordings for ACC or PCC certification have achieved their desired credential.

Bec Pfeifer“I had the very good fortune to have Jim as a mentor coach. During that time I learned so much – about coaching and about me. Moreover, I truly enjoyed the learning process, in large part, because of Jim’s expertise, energy, and presence.

Jim has a way of listening and of providing observations and feedback that is thought provoking, energizing and expanding, never critical or diminishing. I found his style of coaching to be practical, uncomplicated, direct, and injected with a sense of humor that enabled me to gain valuable insights about me and how I coach.

As a result of my experience with Jim, I have not only expanded my coaching skills, I have developed a greater sense of confidence in what I know, what I don’t know, and what I can learn.”

Bec Pfeifer, Champlin, MN, USA


If you’re ready to learn more, contact me to set up a Mentor Coaching Strategy session. This is a 30-60 minute conversation in which we will explore where you are in your coaching, what you want to work on, how Mentor Coaching might help you, and whether I am the right coach for you (if not, I’ll refer you on). I look forward to speaking with you.

In Happiness,

Jim Smith, PCC, NCOC®
Click to email me directly


Finally, a quick review of Coaching Competencies!

How do I coach thee? Let me count the ways.
(With many apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I coach thee? Let me count the ways.
I coach thee to the depth and breadth and height
Your soul can reach, with Coaching Presence bright.
I coach thee within the ICF Ethical Standards of what is right.
I establish with thee a Coaching Agreement, your success to accelerate;
To challenge thee in Planning and Goal-setting I do not hesitate.
I help thee Create Awareness, thy learning I facilitate;
And when thy Way of Being shifts, I am first to applaud and congratulate!
That in our coaching relationship we might establish Trust and Intimacy,
Direct Communication I model with thee:
I ask thee Powerful Questions, I Listen Actively,
I help thee Design Actions, then Manage Progress and Accountability.
I coach thee with all the tools of a coach available to me:
My life, my skills, all my training, and my entire Being, see?
I’ve learned from experience, from mentors, other coaches, and even from thee,
And from teachers in classrooms, o’er the phone, across the internet, and even overseas.
I coach thee, my dear client, based on thy individual needs.
I coach thee, then, by applying the ICF Professional Core Competencies!

Even if you are not ICF-certified or on that path, the 11 Core Competencies provide a solid foundation for effective, powerful coaching.

And what ARE the 11 core coaching competencies?  They are “hidden” in the poem above, and detailed at the ICF website. There’s no prize for finding them all on this page, but there is a HUGE reward for those coaches who embrace and live them all!