I think that sometimes mentoring and coaching are used interchangeably, so I’d like to weigh in on how I differentiate the two. And why I consider myself a mentor, but not a coach in any way shape or form.
Coaching is really about addressing specific behaviors that exist in the here and now. It is a finite relationship that focuses on growth and development, while at the same time eliminating those behaviors that either hold one back or detract from overall performance. I think coaching is perfect for someone taking on a new position of responsibility, in that they might not be prepared for the complexities of the new job and a coach can bring out the vest qualities of the individual that landed them the job in the first place. And, equally important, help the person lose the unnecessary baggage they might be bringing to the job.
A mentor is really a much longer relationship that focuses on long-term growth and development. Mentoring is about imparting wisdom and teaching skillsets that we pass down to younger generations. It is much more personal and involves continual support regardless of which way the mentee’s career path veers.
Being a mentor, for me, involves challenging expectations and managing conflict. It is about being a personal advocate and having another set of eyes review and analyze any given situation. It is rewarding for both mentor and mentee.
So seek out coaching when you need specific attention to your short term development, and seek out a mentor when you need long-term guidance and support.