Mentor, Coach or Both?


Mentor, Coach or Both?

When it comes to sports, it’s all clear. A guy is a gifted baseball pitcher. He’s been throwing more balls than strikes lately. The coach looks at the whole team during the game and goes out to the mount and asks about the balls and the strikes. The coach sees what’s going on and he acts as an objective observer and tells the pitcher what he sees going on. A day or so after the game, the pitcher gets someone to watch him practice. Someone who will give him pointers on the exact things he’s doing when he throws a strike versus what he’s doing in his form that’s different when he throws a ball. It’s a way to correct his form. The coach acts as a mirror and the “mentor” acts as a guide.

A coach is not a mentor. And it’s true in the business world as well. But it isn’t as clear. I hear people interchanging the concepts in the same paragraph. A Coach identifies the best of a person and questions them until the best emerges. A mentor takes the mentee by the hand and takes them through the steps to implement changes they could be making.

So what do you think you need? You’re managing your business alone. Everything you know about it is inside your head. Would you benefit from having someone tell you exactly what others see? Then you might benefit from having a coach. Or would you prefer to have someone give you suggestions about the things you’re doing in greater detail so you could be guided through the improvements? Perhaps you need a reliable mentor. Are you the kind of person who can self-correct if you hear objectively how you’re seen (Coach). Or are you the person who can benefit from having a shoulder-to-shoulder partner through the whole process (Mentor).

You could also do two other things:

  • You could go it alone and hope that what you think is being perceived IS really being perceived; OR
  • You could have both a coach and a mentor to help you identify AND implement the things you’d like to change.

It’s lonely out there when you’re trying to do it alone.

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