This week’s topic is executive coaching versus mentoring. I get asked this question a lot. Do I need a mentor or do I need an executive coach? What’s the difference anyway? Aren’t they pretty much the same thing? Well, too often these terms are used interchangeably. The fact is, they are significantly different with what they accomplish, and why you would need them.
Let’s start with mentors. Mentors provide wisdom and guidance based on their own experience. In other words, the experience with a mentor is all about the mentor. They tell you what you should do, based on what they have done what they have succeeded at. Think of it as a traditional teacher-student relationship.
In a coaching relationship this is turned on its ear. With an executive coach, the focus is on YOU – the person being coached. Instead of offering guidance from their own experience, a professional coach will draw on a coaching skillset to help you find solutions that are best for you.
A mentor is great for providing guidance and support as somebody who has direct experience and can set you on the right track. An executive coach on the other hand is great for when you need a trained professional to partner with you. A coach helps you both solve problems and provides accountability to achieve your goals.
Here are a few examples where you might benefit from an executive coach.
- You have a unique challenge, a stretch goal or a great opportunity to do something new.
- You recognize that a gap exists in your mindset, skills or confidence.
- You have a desire to accelerate things to get improved results, faster.
- You need help with strategy or making difficult decisions. Here the coach comes in and acts as an outside sounding board that helps you think of solutions to your specific problems rather than giving you the answer.
- You feel like the world is out of control and work & life are out of balance.
- You need help thinking through your strengths and how you can best leverage them.
The bottom line is that executive coaching and mentoring are both great personal development vehicles. Make sure that you choose the right ones for the right situations.