Coach vs Mentor

Starting to feel like you don’t have all the answers and need a little bit of help? Great! Being self aware is an important thing in life and in business. We all reach this point at some juncture and getting the support you need early on will make all the difference to your success, and stress levels!

Coaching and mentoring is not just for sports. In all aspects of life there is a place for it.

So should you seek advice from a coach or a mentor? What is the difference?

Fundamentally, the advice each brings falls into these two directions:

  • Coach — Helps you to find your own answers, try things out and learn from the experience.
  • Mentor — -shares experience and techniques to enable you to leverage from an existing base of knowledge rather than start from scratch.

With each, it is important to create a journey over time, focussed on an achievable end goal in terms of result or behaviour.

What does a good coach bring? Don Shula is an interesting benchmark —

In selecting the mentor and coach of course the first thing to look at is do they have the relevant experience of similar matters to share. From this you will identify a potential pool of people to work with. Then it is essential to spend a little bit of time to see if there is a good personal communications fit. Do you WANT to work with them? Does their style blend with how you learn best? Do you enjoy their company? How do they inspire you into new challenges?

The human side of learning is so very important for the reality of the new knowledge sticking with you, and ultimately turning into tangible results.

In approaching the relationship it is important to remember that neither a coach nor a mentor will do the work for you. They will however help you develop the tools to undertake the challenge yourself, and learn from your experiences in doing so.

Many times I have heard the phrase from successful mentoring and coaching case studies “You get out of it what you put in”.