Today we're shining a spotlight on the wonderful mentors of The Coaching Academy, starting with Jo Mason - award-winning high-performance coach, accredited CPD provider, mentor, STEM ambassador and small business owner.
Jo enrolled with The Coaching Academy as a Protégé Coach only 3 years ago and soon after qualifying, won the NLP Practitioner Award at the 2018 International Coaching Awards.
Passionate about supporting others in their coaching journey, Jo is now a volunteer mentor with TCA and is one of the first who has dedicated over 100 hours to help current students on their coaching journey.
Read more about Jo Mason’s insightful experience as a mentor below!
What is your coaching niche and why did you choose it?
Contrary to an apparent commonly held belief (and wildfire rumour!) by student coaches that they need to decide their niche early, I didn’t, in fact, narrow mine down until I was approaching 12 months into my business. That time and space gave me many opportunities for deep reflection: on who I liked working with and why, where my pitches and marketing messages were landing best, and where my passions lay.
With a background in science, as a practitioner, manager, and teacher, my niche evolved into: ‘high-achieving introverts in STEM’ (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics). Whilst this may on the surface seem very specific because it touches on multiple facets, it has opened up a wide variety of opportunities for me.
How did you start volunteering as a Mentor for The Coaching Academy and why did you want to take on this challenge?
I submitted my application in response to an advert for new volunteer mentors and was lucky enough to be selected to go through the 4-month training programme.
I have always been passionate about personal development, and where I can use my skills and experience to support others on their journey towards success, I find hugely rewarding. It is mutually beneficial as my own development benefits from the mentoring relationship too!
100 hours of volunteer mentoring is a fantastic achievement! What was the most rewarding part of it?
I love hearing each mentee’s personal story, and I never cease to be amazed and impressed by the calibre of students we have. I also enjoy hearing their approach to their learning journey, especially how their behavioural preferences impact on this!
Once they are approaching the end of their studies, it is always exciting for me to see their photos in Coaching Weekly. On occasion, I have also received some lovely messages as feedback, and this is when you really appreciate the impact you are having as a mentor.
What was one thing mentorship changed in your own life that you didn’t expect?
Having a growth mindset means I am continuously seeking new learning, and so I fully expected to glean a lot of learning from my mentees – however, I think I underestimated this!
I’ve learned so much, about a huge range of subjects, and it has enriched my knowledge and understanding of the world greatly. Some mentees have also chosen to connect with me beyond their studies, as we have similar interests, and this has also been an unanticipated yet heart-warming outcome.
Whilst we understand that you are supportive of all your mentees, can you give us an example of when in your opinion a mentee coach has overcome significant odds to succeed (or done particularly well)?
At times there are students for whom, for a variety of reasons, life has got in the way and they have suspended their studies. Part of ‘getting back on track’ is having a mentoring session, and so as mentors, we get to hear quite a bit about their challenges.
For these students, there is often the additional hurdle to overcome of believing they can get back into their studies and make the necessary progress. To support them in this way initially, and see them continue their studies towards ultimately qualifying, is just wonderful.
Tell us about a mentee that challenged your perceptions about what it means to be a successful coach.
For me, success in coaching is about having an impact on clients and supporting them to change their lives. And whilst we all have our behavioural preferences and preferred way of being treated, part of the journey towards qualifying as a coach is about recognising this and developing tools and techniques to adjust our preferences, to respond effectively to those of the client.
There are traits - within all the behavioural preferences - that are more aligned with effective coaching, and vice versa!
Where I have worked with students who are focussing on developing their emotional intelligence, who are open to being vulnerable and stretching beyond their comfort zone, then the changes they enable themselves to make to their coaching style can be quite astonishing.
If you could go back in time to the person you were before attending the free two-day foundation event, what would you tell them?
I had two very clear objectives when I attended the foundation event, whether coaching had the potential of being a viable business for me, and whether the standard of teaching was at the right level.
With a resounding ‘yes’ answering both of these questions, I would have loved at that time to also be aware that ‘your coaching skills are what you make them’.
I use my coaching skills in absolutely everything I do, not only in 1-1 coaching and team coaching, but beyond: teaching, training and facilitating, mentoring, interviewing, managing relationships across all aspects of life, and throughout the management of my business.
Widening horizons in this way has enabled me to create many more opportunities that not only fulfil my financial requirements, but also my values in respect of creativity and growth.
Is there one tip or life lesson you could share with all aspiring coaches out there that would help them succeed as a coach?
Develop the practice of deep reflection.
This is critical, not only initially during the learning journey towards qualifying as a professional coach, but also once qualified, when reflection remains a key part of supervision, as we maintain our ethical practice.
And finally… if I may add a quick final tip: some time ago I heard the mnemonic ‘WAIT’ which stands for ‘Why Am I Talking?’
I love this as it is both appropriate and effective in helping to develop the discipline around managing our inner voice, towards the competency of using silence effectively. If a student catches themselves talking maybe a little too much, they just need to think ‘WAIT’!
If you're interested in finding out more about coaching, just like Jo did at the beginning of her career, start by joining us in our interactive live webinar. Choose from available dates here.
With an increasing number of offices asking staff to work from home and many schools closed, the Coronavirus pandemic has upped the stakes in the work-life balancing game. TCA Trainer and award-winning family coach Sharon Lawton is sharing her top tips to adjust to this new normal with your whole family.