To mentor or to coach?…now THAT is the question!Jul 01, 2021
To mentor or to coach?…now THAT is the question!
Do you ever look at the array of business gurus and wonder what on earth to make of them all?
Perhaps you know that you could make great progress in your business if you could get just the right professional guidance and acceleration, but feel confused by the offer of coaching, training, mentoring, consulting…and so on.
You are certainly not alone. And I think it’s really important to clear up this confusion.
I’ve just been invited by The Coaching Academy to take part in their Mentor Series. I’m a mentor for trainee coaches in the UK, and this invitation has got me thinking about the mentoring vs coaching debate.
Arguably, the terminology probably means little to anyone other than mentors and coaches themselves. (And to be honest we worry about it only because we are – quite rightly – proud and protective of our professional qualifications and expertise.)
Of course, what you are most concerned about is getting the right results for yourself and your business.
But it’s important that you get the RIGHT help, according to what you need right now and where you want to be. You need to make sure you’re spending your time and money as effectively as possible, so here’s a quick overview to help you make more sense of the coaching vs mentoring help available to you.
Essentially, a coach will help you find answers of your own while a mentor will show you what to do.
Coaching, then, is more empowering and potentially really transformational, because the shifts you make come from within you, having been helped to look at things differently. It means working with someone who is highly skilled in questioning, listening, exploring, and guiding.
In fact, this transformation is at the heart of why I became a coach. I spent many years mentoring sales teams around the world, sharing my knowledge and experience to help them get better results. I’m naturally very curious (I think it might be my science background, but that’s a story for another day), and so I tend to ask people a lot of questions at the best of times. And I noticed that when I asked certain questions, people made really huge jumps in their thinking and their progress. The coaching spark was well and truly lit for me…
Mentoring, meanwhile, is more about guidance from someone with expertise in your field (or in a particular topic you need to master). This person has gone ahead of you on the business journey, and they use that experience to shine a light on your next steps with proven strategies, ideas and resources, and repeatable actions.
Both accelerate your results. Both help you get what you want, and where you want to be. But they are quite different approaches, and suited to different situations and business needs.
So how do you know which you need?
Well, I feel very strongly about both – and I have a lot of experience in both disciplines too. I’m an award-winning coach and a member of the invitation-only Forbes Coaches Council. But I’ve also spent many years mentoring people as a corporate leader and as an entrepreneur.
And drawing on all that experience, I would always suggest you invest in a discovery call with either a coach or a mentor. I say ‘invest’ but let me clear – it’s very unlikely anyone would ask you to pay for that initial consultation, not least because a good mentor or coach will want to know you’re a good fit for them as well as them being a good solution for you. But you will need to invest a little bit of time and a big dollop of honesty about where you are and what you want to achieve.
In a conversation like that, you should find that the best solution for you becomes clear – a coach with the talent to help you unlock your thinking, or a mentor with the experience to show you the next steps you need to take.
Or you may find you would benefit most from a blend of both skills. Depending on where you are right now, what issues you face, and where you want to go, it may be that a skilled mix of coaching and mentoring is the way to get the results you want at the greatest speed and with the maximum ease.
Certainly the ladies in my Smart Woman’s Mastermind say that the mix of accountability and coaching alongside practical strategies and mentoring is a killer combination, helping them take giant steps on their journey to thriving and profitable businesses.
In fact, someone who can do both seamlessly is probably in the running for being crowned your best business friend.
And, as always, the most important thing is that you do something. Whether it’s coaching or mentoring (or both) that will help you, make sure you’re moving forward. Because ahead of you are the results you desire.
If you’d like to talk this through with me, please feel very welcome to hit reply and let me know.