What’s the difference between a mentor and a coach? Good question. I came across this quote recently and while no-one knows who said it, they generally agree that it’s accurate.
“A coach has some great questions for your answers. A mentor has some great answers for your questions.”
I think it’s well put. Mentoring is the transfer of learning – of knowledge – from mentor to mentee. Coaching is more about helping people understand themselves by asking questions which guide their thinking.
When it comes to career development, coaching and mentoring are both enormously powerful tools. However, it doesn’t matter which you choose if you don’t enter the relationship with the right approach.
Over the years I’ve found 7 keys which make the difference between success and failure in a coaching or mentoring relationship. They are all linked to your attitude.
The seven keys.
Be curious. You have much to learn so listen, ask questions, make suggest, query things, try thinking out of the box.
Pay attention. Listen to what is being said. Think hard about the questions you’re asked. Apply the information or think about how it could be used and the difference it might make.
Accept feedback. You’re not always going to like what you hear but that’s probably your best growth opportunity. If there’s a skill or knowledge gap or perhaps a behavioural issue, you need to know so you can overcome it. By the same token, accept positive feedback when it’s due. You need to build a balanced view of yourself.
Be honest. In these kinds of relationships, honesty is paramount. Vulnerability and openness are your allies. Say what you think. Express how you feel. Tell the truth. You’re trying to shape your personal and professional future, so you need to be able to live with it – happily!
Have goals. Know what you want to achieve through coaching or mentoring. Be clear about that up front so the coach/mentor understand the outcome you want.
Keep an open mind. Most of us are set in our points of view. It’s hard to accept a change, especially of our basic beliefs. Neuroscience tells us that this is our brains natural response to threat kicking in. It’s trying to protect us from the unknown. As Frank Zappa said, “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.”
Follow through. Your coach or mentor will ask you to make a commitment to actions you’ve agreed to take. It might be a commitment to learning, to your coach/mentor, or to yourself. While they are there to help, support and encourage you to move forward, they can’t take the action for you. If you’re not committed to the actions, you’re not really committed to growth.
I hope this list has made you think.
When people look for a professional development, they usually focus on what the coach or mentor can do for them.
They should be thinking about what they can and will do for themselves.
Are you ready?
- Are you ready to achieve high performance?
- Are you ready to inspire yourself and your team to outstanding results?
- Are you ready to have a purposeful conversation about your career advancement?
It all starts with you. With one click, you can take the first step to fast track your success. Talk to Linda about your coaching needs today.