Power Dynamics in Mentoring: An Autoethnographic Account of a Mentor-Coach Relationship
University of Wales
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Recognition that the traditional approach to educating coaches is too mechanical and systematic (Jones and Wallace, 2006), a more nuanced appreciation of coach development has recently gained momentum. Mentoring, as a way of supporting, educating and assisting coaches to develop coping strategies in an innately complex endeavour (Roberts, 2000; Jones and Wallace, 2006), holds much future promise. The subsequent aim of this study was to provide an insight into my experience as a mentor in the quest to develop coaches and their practice. In particular, it examines my relationship as a mentor with a particular coach in terms of power and respect. Autoethnography was selected as the method because it provides a vehicle to express the complex nature of the coaching environment and the fragile relationship that evolves between mentor and coach. The autoethnographic genre also allowed both an articulation of my personal story and space for readers to actively engage with it (Barone, 1995). Foucault (1975) provides a theoretical lens through which my tale can be read and enables exploration to further understand and critically analyze the events that took place, as related to power, hierarchy and relationships (Purdy et al., 2008). The power relations evident in my first story, "The Silent Journey" hint at the complexity and non-linearity of human relationships. In light of Foucault’s (1975) ideas, my actions in the second story, "The Hidden Depths of Feedback" subtly changed the power dynamic, which resulted in a move towards bridging a hierarchy. Future research is needed to further understand the legacy of actions in the mentor-coach relationship.
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