The Difference Between Mentors and Coaches

The Difference Between Mentors and Coaches

Coaching and mentoring are similar in that they can both help people with setting personal goals and up-leveling their careers. There are some important differences in the support they provide for businesses, however. 

The Approach

Mentoring, although not exclusive to business environments, typically means one individual offers another the opportunity to follow in the path of a more experienced or senior colleague who can pass on knowledge and serve as a network for bigger opportunities. They provide insight and advice based on their first-hand experience in whatever the mentee is trying to learn or improve. They serve as an example by showing them what they can achieve if they follow in their footsteps. 

One possible downside to this in business is that growth potential eventually caps when the extent of the mentor’s knowledge has been reached. Doing things like someone else will also often yield the same results. At times, repeat results might be warranted, but it can create error in future endeavors if new approaches or different results are needed. 

Coaches, on the other hand, empower their clients to make changes in their lives or at work for personal or career growth. They facilitate a process that provides their clients with clarity of vision, removes limiting beliefs and fears, and accountability to take action. They help a business team or a professional achieve bigger goals than they could without support. By providing support in a structured relationship, they’re able to design their own goals and accomplish these actions quickly. A good coach will equip their clients with enough problem-solving skills to continue to progress long after the coaching contract ends. 

Coaches offer a process that leads to clarity, new perspectives and skills, but the clients are the ones responsible for creating the changes. This gives clients the autonomy to come up with their own way of doing things. 

The best trait a good coach can offer is the ability to ask the right questions that help clients determine what’s going right and why, and what needs improvement and how within a company. Based on these findings, coaches support clients to create a detailed plan, including the steps required to achieve the desired results. They’ll break down the goals into smaller, easily digested tasks to be completed within a specific time and hold their clients accountable for following through. Following a structured plan makes it easier to prioritize the next steps and makes for a quicker turnaround on outcomes.

The timeline

A mentor is usually in someone’s life for an extended period. The relationship between the mentor and mentee is often a bit informal because it doesn’t follow a rigorous formula to accomplish goals by a strict deadline. They imbue gradual lessons over time by leading by example. In business, this may be a senior employee training someone for future advancement.

As previously mentioned, coaches typically follow a more rigid timeline. Although there may be some wiggle room to allow for improvisation or direction when needed, they usually have an engagement for a designated number of months. After the agreed period of time for the engagement, they can then end the contract. 

What they cover

Mentors tend to be experts in one specific role or area of their industry. Business coaches, on the other hand, are usually well-versed in the overall workings of a business from sales to marketing to gaining leadership skills. They use many tactics to cover a wide range of industries. There are many types of coaches, including life, health, business, and even relationship coaches, but they should not be confused for mentors, therapists, or counselors. Although coaches use skills that include observing, listening, and asking questions, the results wanted will not manifest unless the clients do the work themselves.

What they’re not

Counseling and coaching share similar skills, but professional counselors work with personal issues in much greater depth. Coaches don’t delve into the past or make judgments about people or businesses. The starting place is wherever a person is in their personal journey, and it’s the job of the coach to give them the tools that will get them from point A to B. This applies to businesses as well. 

The results depend entirely upon the client’s determination and willingness to do the necessary work and when they want their results by. Therefore, it’s essential to differentiate between a mentor and coach when hiring supportive and goal-oriented help. With the right support, businesses can become more productive, profitable, and competitive.

If you’re interested in making a difference in people’s lives by becoming a coach, join us for a special event on Oct. 3rd, 2019! CoachDiversity Institute is hosting the second annual Symposium for Coaching in Diversity and Inclusion. This event holds a spotlight on the use of coaching as a toolkit for diversity and inclusion and promotes and celebrates diversity in this ever-growing field. This symposium gathers the best minds in coaching, diversity, and inclusion to share knowledge, resources, and tools. We hope to see you there! To learn more about the event and purchase tickets, please visit us here

CoachDiversity Institute provides customized coaching solutions to forward-thinking corporations, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and government entities. Join us in November for our inaugural coach certification cohort at Howard University. Learn more here, or contact us today for additional information.