They aren’t brand new but mentoring and coaching are under-utilized in comparison to other learning modalities.

A study by Brandon Hall Group shows that coaching and mentoring are considered highly effective-even surpassing the rating of classroom training’s effectiveness–but they are still used less frequently to develop leaders (2016-2017). 

It’s clear that mentoring and coaching are effective – they are personal, personalized, and highly engaging experiential learning modes. But they still aren’t being used to their full potential.

In order to take advantage of these high effective and underutilized development methods, we must democratize mentoring and coaching. Instead of offering them to a select few at the top or a small group of high-potentials, we must consider spreading out their use and making these opportunities for development available in much broader ways to a much broader group of leaders.


We see how mentoring can increase leader knowledge in such a variety of ways in our work. It can broaden knowledge across the business, deepen understanding of a specific function, and engage the employee further with the organizational culture and values.

The application opportunities for mentoring are deep and wide. It can be used to:

Develop a future successor

Transfer knowledge in a peer-to-peer context

Deepen enterprise-wide networks

Grow first-time leaders’ skills and knowledge

Develop competencies in a targeted group

Expose a team member to cross-functional perspectives

Bolster programs with technical/business acumen

Mentoring relationships also have a proven impact on retention: Millennials intending to stay more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor than those not intending to stay (2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey). We’ve seen a resurgence in the past few years of both company-wide mentoring programs and targeted mentoring programs for leader cohorts or high-potential leaders.


Coaching is another method of highly effective leadership development thanks to its specialized, highly customizable nature.

The Conference Board survey shows that coaching can target many different goals, including:

Identifying gaps and blind spots

Building self-awareness

Increasing confidence and resilience

Strengthening critical leadership skills

Strengthening relationships

Retaining top talent

Leaders see the value of having a coach because it gives them an opportunity to practice and build muscle memory for unknown or unplanned situations–which are sure to continue in our dynamic work environment today.

Like mentoring, coaching can be implemented in a variety of ways. We’ve seen it used as a leadership development method, for retention or reinforcement, or as a primary development method.

After all, there are many options:

Individual coaching

Group coaching

Coaching with action learning projects

Team coaching

Coaching certification for organizational super-users

Coaching skill development for managers and leaders

We’ve discussed before how variety in learning modalities offered to leaders (and encouraging participant choice) can contribute to participation and engagement in leadership development. Coaching and mentoring are great additions to your current leadership development programs because they engage leaders in a different way–especially for the leaders of today who seek more experiential and application-focused development.

With all of the benefits that coaching and mentoring provide, isn’t it time to start using them with many more of your leaders? 

Krista Skidmore, Esq., Partner and Cofounder of FlashPoint, is passionate about all things leadership. She leads the FlashPoint consulting team to ensure they deliver results to clients with intelligence and integrity. 

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