Do you need a Mentor or a Coach?
As an Executive Coach I help founders find the right kind of help at the right time. Most early stage businesses, what we call the “Build Stage” business, need either a “Mentor“, a “Coach” or both. In this post I’m going to discuss the differences between a “Mentor” and a “Coach“. By the conclusion, you’ll understand the differences and know how to decide “Do you need a Mentor or a Coach?”.
Differences Between a Mentor and a Coach
Mentors focus on the person, their career and support for individual growth and maturity. A Coach is job-focused and performance oriented. A Coach works with you to develop specific skills for a set of tasks, challenges and performance expectations.
What Does a Mentor Do?
A Mentor focuses on the person, their career and support for individual growth and maturity.
A good Mentor focusses on the overall “you” to help you improve your overall “self”. Mentors will spend time asking you questions around your life goals, your strengths, your weaknesses. They will look at your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter posts and who you follow. Mentors will ask you about your core beliefs and interests. In summary, they will really dig into “who you are” and figure out “who you want to be”.
A Mentor will help you map out a plan for changes to the “you” in order to “advance”. This could be changes in how you present yourself to others. Changes in attire, hair styles, and makeup are on the list. It could be you’re shy. Forcing yourself to attend parties, go to Meetups or even speak at events could be a needed change. Are you wanting to find a husband or wife with strong moral fibers and a strong career path? Hanging out at the local bars is probably not going to work for you. Are you in your late 20’s and still partying like college and posting drunk pictures on Facebook? Probably not going to get you that big promotion. A great Mentor will guide you through these life transitions that can affect you both personally and professionally.
What Does a Coach Do?
A Coach is job-focused and performance oriented. A Coach works with you to develop specific skills for a set of tasks, challenges and performance expectations.
When you’re at your first, or fifth job, and not advancing as fast as your peers, you need a Coach.
Whether you’re “just out of school”, or starting your first role as a Manager or VP, you need a Coach. You’ve heard the old saying “You don’t know what you don’t know”. If you’re in a new role, or “stuck” in the same role for too long, you need a Coach.
A Coach will sit down and help you learn the responsibilities of your role. They will outline a series of tasks you need to take to first learn the “basics” of that role. A great Coach helps create a set of metrics to measure your progress at performing your role. They will teach you how to “stand out” in a positive way. They will teach you how to rise through the ranks faster than your peers. A Coach will teach you the things you can do that “go the extra mile”. They prepare you for the next step up the responsibility ladder. They will help you learn how to become all but “termination proof” in any bad times at the company.
Many of us start our own businesses. We need Coaches more than most professionals. If we’re starting a company for the first time, there are so many things we don’t know. Hiring, firing, financing, methods of incorporations, customer acquisition and so much more! A good Coach is a “must” for helping us identify those specific skills we need to be successful.
So, Mentor or Coach?
So, do I need a Mentor or a Coach? Actually, this is not quite the right question. The reality if that you most likely need “both”.
Mentors focus on the person, their career and support for individual growth and maturity. A Coach is job-focused and performance oriented. A Coach works with you to develop specific skills for a set of tasks, challenges and performance expectations. Most seeking seeking to improve our value at our work usually need help on improving ourselves “as a person”.
I’ve been fortunate in my life to have both my Coaches and Mentors appear when I needed them most. In reality, I could have done better at improving the “me” by getting help from a Mentor “sooner”. I could have also advanced sooner in my Career had reached out for Coaching “sooner” also.
There are organizations that provide excellent Coaching help such as Vistage and The Inner Circle at reasonable prices if you’re a business owner or CEO of a company. If you’re new to management or have risen to the VP level, look for a local coach with a proven management track level on LinkedIn. Mentors are generally best found in the company you’re working at. You can also seek them out at local Meetups or industry events.
I hope I have educated you on the important differences between Mentors and Coaches. Hopefully you’ll agree with me that for maximum personal and business success we need them both throughout our life.
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Next time …
In the next blog post, I will write about “Startups: Never Say “I Don’t Have Competition“”.
Read a Previous Post: “Startups: Why You Need an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)“
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