What is the Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring?

There are many differences between coaching and mentoring. The key difference is coaching addresses specific, performance-based areas. Business coaches help improve skills like employee management, financial analysis, presentation skills, and a variety of other skills related to running a business. The coach’s job isn’t done until the client improves.

Mentoring, on the other hand, isn’t tied directly to performance. It is a long-term relationship that has broader objectives rather than specific goals. Mentoring often happens in the workplace in the form of a senior employee showing a newer employee the best practices associated with their position. Let’s take a look at the difference between coaching and mentoring in more detail.

How is Coaching Different Than Mentoring?

A coach is someone you pay to help you improve in a specific area. A mentor helps you on a strictly voluntary basis. The expectation of outcome is the foundational difference between coaching and mentoring. This is why coaches are much more results-orientated than mentors. Their livelihood depends on getting results for their clients.

Another way coaching is different than mentoring is in the level of commitment. Meetings with mentors are informal and irregular. They often take place over lunch or coffee and don’t have a specific agenda. Meetings with a coach are more formal and have to take place at a specific interval to be successful. Weekly meetings are best for those who are new to business coaching, while a biweekly or monthly frequency might work after a few months of successful coaching. Each meeting with a business coach has a specific agenda and should build upon the previous session.

The final difference between coaching and mentoring is the relationship between coach/coachee and mentor/mentee. In a coach/coachee relationship, the coach asks the coachee lots of questions. The goal is to learn about the thought patterns holding the coachee back in a specific area and then develop a custom strategy for addressing the behaviors holding the coachee back. In a mentor/mentee relationship, it is the mentee who asks the questions. They determine what they learn and when they learn it.

Next, we’ll use the role of a business coach to show examples of how a coach differs from a mentor.

What is a Business Coach’s Role?

The role of a business coach is to use their expertise to help improve their client’s competence in a skill or task. This seemingly simple job description actually involves many different roles.

The diagnostician is one role a business coach plays when they first start working with a client. They help their client determine the health of their business by setting up a key performance indicator (KPI) dashboard. Analyzing the right KPIs allows a business coach to discover the specific adjustments needed to boost a business’s productivity.

The psychologist is another role the business coach plays throughout the relationship. They have to know how the business owner themselves thinks and operates to truly understand what type of CEO they are. The business coach uses this understanding to diagnose specific thought patterns blocking their client’s potential.

Finally, the business coach puts on the coaching hat, as if they were coaching an athlete training for the Olympics. Once a business coach equips their clients with the right strategies, their goal is to inspire the best execution possible. This can include anything from motivational conversations to showing tough love – it all depends on what the coachee responds to best.

Now that you understand the role of a business coach, also known as an executive coach, let’s discuss some scenarios in which hiring an executive coach would benefit you.

What an Executive Coach Can Do For You

As mentioned above, the key difference between coaching and mentoring is that you pay a coach for a specific purpose. An executive coach, for example, specializes in helping CEOs and high-level executives run a better business. Consider hiring an executive coach if you find yourself in any of the following scenarios.

You Don’t Have a Clear Plan

Up to 80 percent of business owners and entrepreneurs who seek executive coaching don’t have a business plan that is clearly defined and documented. You’re leaving up to 50 percent of your revenue on the table if you don’t have an annual business plan.

An executive coach helps you understand your business better. They teach you how to analyze each section of your business on a yearly, quarterly, and monthly basis. The basis of this analysis involves setting up and monitoring key performance indicators to track the health of each section. Once the KPI dashboard is set up, an executive coach helps their client create and execute a plan to hit their new KPI goals.

You Don’t Understand Who You Are as an Executive

What defines you as a business owner? If you’re like most business owners, you probably don’t have a concrete answer. Many see themselves as entrepreneurs. The truth is it’s only one of three types of executive. You could also be an operator or an artist.

An executive coach helps you understand the why behind your business decisions. The entrepreneur type has a high-risk tolerance and is primarily focused on growing the business. The operator likes to focus mainly on the systems that keep the business running efficiently. The artist’s primary focus is on creating the best product or service possible. They are driven by the founding mission of the business.

Each business owner has all three types within them. The primary type makes up 70 percent of decision making, the secondary type makes up 15 percent, and the “forgotten” type makes up 5 percent. Once an executive coach helps you figure out your primary, secondary, and forgotten types, they’ll teach you how to use your arrangement of characteristics to make better business decisions.

You Struggle With Getting the Most out of Your People

Finally, an executive coach helps you improve your management skills. Most executives who aren’t getting the most out of their business struggle with proper delegation. Your human resources are your most important resources. There are two ways executives misuse delegation.

The first is under delegation. This type of executive is too involved with each and every process. They never allow their employees to take ownership of their work, which puts a cap on their performance. They’re also prone to micromanagement, which alienates employees.

The second is over delegation. This type of executive isn’t involved enough in their employee’s work. They give instruction at the beginning, completely disengage throughout the process, and wait until the work is done to give feedback. This overwhelms employees and makes them feel like they don’t know what they’re doing.

An executive coach teaches their clients how to properly delegate work to employees. It requires strong business systems that are set up for the employee to succeed as long as they follow standard operating procedures.
Now that you understand the difference between coaching and mentoring, you are ready to decide if you need a coach or mentor to reach your goals. If you are a business owner or executive ready to catapult your career forward, then you need to invest in an executive coach. Contact us for a consultation with a coach that has over 25 years of proven business success.

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