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Overlook Warren Buffett and Invoice Gates – your mentor for the dream enterprise is already in your pace dial.

13, 2020

7 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

If you're like me, in my search for the right coach, my dream is to bring someone to the top of their field – the Stedman Graham or Steve Jobs of our profession. Conventional wisdom says that if you want to get good at something, you have to learn from the best. But is that always true?

This week I visited management expert Roger Connors, who is perhaps best known as the best-selling co-author of The Oz Principle and several other books on accountability in the workplace. Most recently he heads a new organization called Zero to Ten and his latest book Get a Coach | Be a coach, will be available soon.

We talked about the unexplored magic of mentoring – or mentoring – with people just a level or two above or below us in a given area. It may be an area that doesn't require the greatest sports or executive trainer in the industry, but someone who can help you go from a "4" to an "8" or pass a certification exam .

For example, Roger said, “Consider the task of learning to code. When you scan online forums and take various courses, you realize that having a coach would be helpful. One connection you see is a seasoned veteran with over 20 years of coding experience. Another has two years of experience. Who will you choose "

He notes that if you are like most of the people he has spoken to, you are choosing the person who has been in the field for 20 years.

But your instinctive bias towards extensive experience may not be your best bet, says Roger. "In our coaching at Zero to Ten, we found that topicality often outperforms the championship," he noted. “People who have recently followed the same path can act in ways that a 20 year old professional may not be able to. They remember the nuances of first learning and explaining things that used to be difficult. "

Conversely, he finds that someone with a lot more experience doesn't always remember what it was like to be a beginner. Likewise, the skills you developed two or more decades ago may not align well with the dynamics you are facing today.

In addition, the most advanced experts are usually planned weeks or months in advance and may be less accessible to those who are removed from their locale or immediate skills. This in no way devalues ​​the highest level of specialist knowledge. But the principle teaches us as learners to appreciate “topicality” when looking for effective trainers.

A better alternative: look up one level

Here's a novel idea that Roger is advocating: When you're looking for a trainer, you're looking for someone just a step away from your current ability. Here you will find good value for money.

For example, consider Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. In her book Lean In, she describes the powerful effect of reaching people of the same age who only have a higher level of expertise. In her book, she says, "Friends at the same stage in their careers can actually provide more timely and useful advice."

"Several of my older mentors advised me not to take a job at Google in 2001," continues Sheryl. “Still, almost all of my colleagues understood the potential of Silicon Valley. Peers are also in the trenches and may understand issues supervisors don't have, especially if those issues are primarily caused by supervisors. "

Or, Roger suggests, think of Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston, who advised listeners on a Masters of Scale podcast by Reid Hoffman: “Look for people who are a year, two, five years ahead of you . You will learn very different and important things. "

Research on the subject also supports this opinion, says Roger. Dr. Richard K. Ladyshewsky of the Curtin Graduate School of Business in Perth, Australia, said in the International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring: “Working with a peer coach on a level similar to yourself is beneficial because of the way you work where problems are analyzed and solved. Experts use a forward reasoning process because they have worked on the problem many times, while those with less experience use a background reasoning process because they have limited experience with the problem. "

See also: The Best Business Book Ever Written, According to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett

In his article, Ladyshewsky sums up: "Because experts see problems differently than beginners, they may not necessarily be the best trainers."

"This is a principle that is often overlooked by professionals, but resonates with most coaching recipients on a personal level," says Roger. "We want the ability to relate to the person we're talking to. And no one is more reliable than the person who recently went through our struggle."

When looking for a "level-up" trainer, according to Roger, keep the following recommendations in mind:

1. Ask the people you already work with

Many of us shy away from sharing our talents openly and there is no way we will offer them unless we are an expert. However, using the principle of "ascending" greatly expands the idea of ​​what a person can train on. Without our knowledge, we are likely working with the very people who can coach us best. We just have to ask.

2. Understand their expertise

It is helpful to ask a potential level-up coach when they have completed a project like yours. There isn't a hard and fast rule, but in general you want someone who isn't far from hiring a beginner.

3. Clarify your expertise

Equally important is the need to share your own expertise. Tell the prospective trainer what you've done so far and what hasn't helped them get a better idea of ​​your current state. Remember that as you improve, your expertise changes. So be sure to check this point every time you meet a trainer.

4. Don't spend more time than necessary

Coaching doesn't have to be a long or drawn-out process. You can gain just as much value, if not more than hours of storytelling or back and forth, from a focussed 15-minute conversation about “Pick your Brain”. The heart of level-up coaching is more skill-specific and performance-oriented teaching than an open-ended partnership to accountability.

5. Get more than one trainer

It is advisable to get multiple perspectives on a subject. The nature of taking someone up a level requires that you switch to another trainer once you've reached the next level. You should always be on the lookout for the next coaching fit.

In conclusion, Roger says, “By thinking,“ Who do I know who is one level higher? “And following this pattern until a goal is achieved, we open up the possibilities of coaching far beyond what is generally perceived by your own organization or by the traditional experts in the coaching industry. "

Related: According to his tweets, Bill Gates is much more stressed than Elon Musk (infographic)

“In an industry where a development coach can cost up to $ 3,500 an hour and experts are at the top, the concept of finding a level-up coach can extend or even disrupt the traditional model in ways that Saves money and makes coaching accessible to everyone. ”

I have more than 20 years of experience in the coaching and training industry and I love Roger Connor's 5 points. I hope this article has helped you expand your coaching or counseling services, or find the right coach or advisor for your personal and professional growth.


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