One of our clients, a senior executive who leads a large team, recently said her boss had told her that she needed to be more gregarious in order to be a truly effective coach and mentor. “Take them out for coffee, drinks, a meal! That's the best way to connect.” he said.
This deeply worried her. She began believing that her introverted ways made her a bad coach and mentor. She worried that those under her charge would be severely disadvantaged.
However, based on her description of her coaching conversations with her team members, we could see she was asking all the right questions and having fruitful discussions. Her staff were excelling and growing in their careers under her mentorship.
Should lively coffee, lunch, dinner or late night drinking dates be a key part of a coaching and mentoring relationship?
First of all, let's be clear about what an effective coaching and mentoring relationship constitutes.
Most would agree that a coach or mentor needs to be, among other things, a good listener and a nurturing person who is able to help people reach their full potential. Naturally, being in rapport with each other during coaching and mentoring conversations is also crucial.
Most people remember such coaches and mentors fondly regardless of whether they had convivial social get-togethers with them.
The point is, meaningful connection can take place even without gregarious gatherings.
Let's also take into account that not all employees are extroverts. Some may actually prefer not to socialise.
In short, before urging introverted managers to change their personalities, think about what's really required to cultivate a great coaching and mentoring relationship.
Are introverts destined to fail as coaches and mentors? Certainly not.
This post was co-written by Communications Strategist, Consultant and Coach, Bharati Jagdish.
Sylvia is a qualified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Trainer. She started her business in Sydney and is now based in Singapore.