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Member insight Phuong Skovgaard on the benefits of mentoring

No matter where you are in your career, mentoring and learning from others is crucial to maintaining a clear view of your progress, goals and achievements. Here at the IoD, we are committed to life-long learning, and mentoring is a popular subject as many of our members are interested in the process - either as a mentor or mentee. We spoke with coach and IoD member Phuong Skovgaard, who described the challenges in getting started in the profession, and what new entrants can expect.

How long have you worked as a coach?

Nearly ten years. I learned to coach in the early nineties, where I was responsible for the people in the department, budget and the overall operation. But I became a qualified coach in 2012, where I could consider myself as a coach. I’ve helped many in career development, business development as well as personal development. We need to remember that professional and personal lives should align.

Today, I’m providing advisory service by helping clients identify high-impact opportunities across sales, operations and infrastructure in new frontier markets in which to grow their portfolios and enhance their return for a sustained growth.

What are the main qualities needed in an effective coach or mentor?

Listening and finding the right solutions for the clients – fix the root cause. Many of my clients are entrepreneurs or business owners, who have to create jobs, products and a strategy for operation while managing budget. The one type of coaching needed for this type of professionals is a combination of coaching, mentoring and NLP. The ultimate goal is to help the clients move forward, whatever method you need to use to help the clients see the logic behind any behaviour. It’d help them respond.

For me coaching is to help the client recognise his/her capability and organise it in the most efficient way. I’d recommend the client to be open for change or opportunities, therefore the organisation of his/her capability should be flexible but without compromising.

Was it difficult to get started?

It was difficult to get started, because I had to form a business including my service and an appropriate price. At the same time I need to sell and provide my service effectively and successfully. Most people are aware of the needs of a coach, but not many know how to apply that to their personal and professional life. It’s therefore important to be educational when approaching a potential client.

What advice do you have on providing a coaching service?

Your rate has to reflect your ability and results. Trial and error will most likely happen to the first clients. If someone is looking to make a profound change in their life, or take a major step forward in their career, they should not just be looking for the lowest bidder.

Even you have your client’s interest at heart, my advice is to be emotionally detached from the client to avoid any bias.

Do have a particular approach?

My particular approach is to listen to the client and observe the way she/he does that in order to fully understand the root cause. Then my task is to guide the client to think and act in a way to which he/she can come to a solution to the problem. I use structure a lot – encouraging clients to organise and plan their way to success, with progress marked by a set of milestones. Many visionaries are not very organised, I use drawing board, as visual illustrations help most of the time.

The above is just common sense, however procrastination is the worst show stopper that many of us suffer, plus a fresh view from a coach could be very helpful, when you get stuck.

What issues should a new coach be aware of?

Cancellations and late payments can be a real problem. I always prepare thoroughly before a session, so a last-minute cancellation is very frustrating. I always use contracts when establishing a coaching relationship – if the client is serious about themselves, this will not be an issue for them. You want serious clients.

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