What is the difference between a Mentor and a Coach?

Mentoring is an extremely effective way to develop other people, but people tend to think of a mentor as being someone who is semi-retired, who has developed good habits over many years, and who can point the way for others to follow.

Famous mentors

We’ve all heard stories of famous people who had mentors: –

Michael Jordan was mentored by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

Sir Richard Branson was mentored by Sir Freddy Laker.

Sir Richard Branson once said, “If you ask any successful business person, they will always have had a great mentor at some point along the road.” – And he was right!

Branson went to Laker during his struggles to get Virgin Atlantic up and running. “It’s always good to have a helping hand at the start. I wouldn’t have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker”.

Do you need to be famous to be a mentor?

A mentor doesn’t have to be famous or accomplished. They can also be someone young and inexperienced who is in the early stages of their career and who is committed to developing their own skills.

A true mentor wants to be there for someone else, and isn’t expecting anything in return.

In some ways, a mentor is like a coach.

By definition, mentoring is one mentor supporting one protégé.

So… who is the coach?

A coach works with a group of individuals across various levels of a business.

Our role as mentors is to offer advice (a sounding board) as well as challenge our protégés.

A coach will provide support and encouragement but will focus on developing the protégés’ leadership and team building skills, rather than helping them to build a skill set within their field.

For example, we can help to build a protégé’s confidence when it comes to presenting to project teams, or we can help them to become more aware of their own strengths and weaknesses in order to improve themselves.

The key takeaways

  • Mentors are generally more experienced and often have more knowledge of the specific field the mentee is looking to learn about or excel in.
  • Coaches are usually involved in helping an individual achieve certain goals in other areas of their lives, such as productivity, relationships, or personal development.

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