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One of the most frequent questions that I am asked as a coach is, “What is the difference between a coach and a mentor?” While the skills required are similar, and both are used as professional development tools, the structure and the outcome are quite different.
The best place to start is a definition of coaching and mentoring.
Coaching: The International Coach Federation (https://coachfederation.org) defines coaching as “Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
Mentoring: A simple, broad definition of mentor is “an experienced and trusted advisor.” BusinessDictionary.com defines mentoring as an “Employee training system under which a senior or more experienced individual (the mentor) is assigned to act as an advisor, counselor, or guide to a junior or trainee. The mentor is responsible for providing support to, and feedback on, the individual in his or her charge.” One note of clarification: While many organizations offer in-house mentoring programs, often as part of a leadership training program, it is common for mentees to work with mentors outside their organization.
Take Away: A mentor is someone who shares their knowledge, skills and/or experience, to help another to develop and grow. A coach is someone who provides guidance to a client on their goals and helps them reach their full potential.
Working with a mentor can be an invaluable experience for both parties. The mentor and mentee will likely learn new things about themselves and each other that will help them move toward career goals. But to make the relationship work, each party needs to understand the role they play.
The role of a mentor is to act as:
It’s extremely important to know what your objective and goals are before looking for anyone. Not having this clarity will cause you to waste a lot of time and money and leave you feeling extremely frustrated.
So – let’s look at the differences between a coach, consultant, and mentor.
A business coach is someone with an understanding of what it takes to run a successful business.
A business coach can use more coaching techniques to explore problems in their business. Therefore, they tend to focus a little more on what you want from the business and what it means to you rather than on the ‘let’s get started’ practice. Once you know the type of training you need, find a reputable organization that trains these coaches, or asks your high performing friends for referrals.
According to Marie Pawlak, Planning101 Group, the role of a coach is to work as your equal. The coach is there to help you find the answers for yourself. They are a sounding board that provides the right questions to get you to think of the solutions.
A good coach will help you explain your goals, focus on what you need to do, and find the best strategy to achieve them. At the very least, the coach provides a kind of accountability and play system, so you can continue to improve and move on.
A mentor, in simple words, is someone who offers their knowledge, experience, and advice to those who are less experienced. By increasing their experience and skills, mentors steer the oriented in the right direction.
The role of a mentor develops as the needs of his mentees change from time to time. In most cases, mentoring relationships are informal, while at the time, these relationships could be more formal. Informal mentoring relationships, mentors follow a structured approach to setting realistic expectations and achieving mutual benefits.
Good mentors are always willing to share their skills and knowledge with the students. Because they faced the same challenges as their mentors, they are more empathetic to their needs.
To inspire and build trust, mentors have a positive and doable attitude. These qualities make it easier for trainees to discuss their professional goals and concerns.
How can a mentor help you?
A mentor helps your career growth, gain confidence, and improve interpersonal skills. This support is based on the mentors’ own experience and learning, which makes them more reliable figures in the eyes of people they are mentoring (Mentee).
From a business standpoint, mentors help employees gain more confidence in their work and develop value-adding skills. Confident and satisfied employees move the organization forward, which explains why many companies are now shifting their focus to identifying the right mentoring program.
A consultant is an expert who performs specific tasks in business, usually by being proactive and is responsible for providing agreed results to clients. A consultant can be hired for either a long-term or short term project, while coaches and mentors are usually stable and ongoing.
Your consultant will become an expert in your field, called for professional or technical advice or opinion. They can be used to understand your specific problem and provide a solution.
Their knowledge is in their years of experience so they can start working and find solutions for you.
The consultants are experts in what they do. They have mastered the process and found the most efficient way to do it. They will usually evaluate what you have done so far and provide a detailed plan of how to do it correctly, with a step-by-step process.
A consultant helps you or your team gets the results you are looking for by working with you or getting the changes and results you want. The consultant learns what you or your organization is doing and then develops a new plan or outcome. Most consultants have the experience that you or your team may not have. They support projects or initiatives with their specific expertise and, when the project is completed, move on to the next company or project. Consultants are beneficial if companies do not have the resources or talents needed to achieve results. Most consultants do not deal with behaviors that need to change people’s minds, roll up their sleeves, and do what is necessary to get results.
A consultant is usually an experienced person who gives technical and professional advice to clients based on their meaningful insights, knowledge, and experience.
However, coaching helps you find clarity and answers and helps you understand how to move toward your goals and grow personally. First, find out what kind of training you need; you may need a single coach or many coaches.
When you are unsure about how to promote your career and are capable of learning from others, it is time to hire a mentor. You can think of a mentor as your role model.
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