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Is it time for a professional coach? When the need surpasses your mentors.

Is it time for a professional coach? When the need surpasses your mentors.

We hear a lot about mentoring and coaching.  You may be asking yourself “what do these terms really mean, and which one is best for my personal and professional growth?”  This is certainly a fair question, so let’s review how a few successful leaders define mentoring and coaching.

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell

” Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is more often helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” — John Whitmore

Nice quotes, right?   Sure… the quotes are okay, but they still do not clearly define what unique offerings each provides.  Let’s break it down further…. 

  • Mentors are successful people who share their knowledge and wisdom to provide insight and direction as an individual experiences challenges along their journey. They typically function in a reactive role, responding to issues as they arise. Mentors may not have expertise in the mentee’s field, but they understand how to navigate business in general.  Mentors offer great ANSWERS!
  • Coaches often have expertise in the same field as the people they’re helping. They’re usually trained and certified as coaches, possessing strong process management skills.  Coaches are prescriptive and proactive by nature, actively contributing in strategy to create successful outcomes with their clients.  Coaches ask great QUESTIONS!

Many mentor/mentee connections last a lifetime if the relationship is successful.  Coaches operate on a strict timeline, and after a particular challenge has been resolved, both parties naturally move on. 

Regardless of where you are in your career, both mentors and coaches can be valuable resources.  You may already know which relationship would serve you the best right now, but if not, consider the following:

  1. Remember where you are on your journey.
    • If you are just starting out, you need an experienced mentor who can guide you through your journey.
    • If you are already on your way but need a push, or specific help getting to the next level, a coach is for you.
  2. Identify your specific needs
    • If you are unsure of where to go or how to get there, a mentor can help you fine tune your goals and give you industry advice from their experience.
    • If you can identify a specific need, you will most likely be served well by a coach.
  3. Follow the advice of your Elders
    • Look at successful individuals or companies you admire and find out what resources they used.