The Mentor Advantage
What’s the difference between coaching and mentoring?
It’s a question I often get asked.
This time the question came from a young CEO inquiring about one of my interactive learning sessions.
Much like harvest gold or avocado-coloured appliances, formal mentoring is something one doesn’t see much anymore. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not valid or necessary.
For centuries the idea of mentoring was considered a cultural norm. It was the time-tested way to learn one’s craft and get ahead. But, first, one would go into a line of work under an ‘apprenticeship’ arrangement where they would work under someone with more experience to learn a trade. This was simply a very formal arrangement that holds the seeds of what modern mentorship looks like today.
A quick search reveals that the major business publications like Forbes, McKinsey, and HBR are now touting the superior benefits of finding the right mentor for leaders who want to grow.
If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before. – J Loren Norris
My short answer to the question is that today there are some similarities and overlaps between formal coaching and mentoring approaches.
However, there are also some distinct differences.
Mentoring can be personal and long-term, helping the mentee reach their overall potential as a person and as a professional.
On the other hand, coaching is more likely to be more short-term and aims to improve a specific skill set of the person being coached.
Beyond that, the differences lie in the expertise and skill level needed, overall focus, questions to be answered, and the desired outcomes.
A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability in you than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you. – Bob Proctor
As an Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach, I incorporate the best elements of coaching and mentoring into my working relationships.
One reason I regularly write about leadership topics is to foster long-term mentoring relationships to share with colleagues and clients.
In today’s world, we put much value in being a self-starter, getting our own lives in order without help from anyone else.
There are some aspects of life where we feel we might be looked down on if we ask for help.
We have this limiting belief that we should be able to do it all on our own, that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But in fact, just the opposite is true.
The reality is that recognizing you need help usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.
But let’s face it. When you first embark on a new journey, whether professionally or personally, you feel much better when you have someone you can approach when you need help.
- Someone you can talk to about your goals.
- Someone who not only listens but can ask questions from earned experience when you get stuck
- Someone with insight and intellect who is there for the sole purpose of helping you to get ahead.
Finding a good mentor can help you:
- Boost your leadership and communication skills.
- Deepen the knowledge you already have.
- See things in a new way.
- Become more aware of the needs of others.
- Feel more self-assured and confident
You see, mentors are incredible individuals who have a sincere desire to give back to the world.
They want nothing more than to see you succeed and have the tools to help you do it.
Depending on the situation, it’s essential to recognize that mentoring can be a paid or unpaid arrangement.
The truth is that mentorship is necessary if you want to get ahead.
Mentorship could be considered the original life- hack. LE
It holds all the shortcuts and gets you where you want to go faster than you could in any other way.
So we all need mentors, whether we realize it or not.
In retrospect, I’ve benefitted enormously from the mentors who have spoken into my life.
I try to recognize and honour them whenever I can.
On the flip side, I’ve also found incredible value in being a mentor. I love sharing my experiences and observations with people eagerly looking to improve themselves or achieve new goals.
That is the beauty of mentoring.
It’s a relationship where we can both give and receive for mutual benefit and advancement in our lives.
Until next time,
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