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Coaches, Mentors or Both!

Mentoring and coaching share a common purpose: helping people develop and grow. However, leaders and managers must understand that the approaches to their implementation are different in some important ways. This will help them make informed decisions about the development of others for the road ahead.

The prevalence of coaching and mentoring in articles, websites, and promotional materials is rising. This trend underscores the need for a personalized approach to leadership development, whether coaching, mentoring or a blend of both. Understanding when, how, and why these practices might be beneficial.

There are commonalities and differences in coaching and mentoring. What's common is the one-on-one interactions, usually delivered by skilled exponents, planned and impact-evaluated, and can be internal or external. The difference is that coaching is short-term; mentoring is often longer. Coaches ask questions, and the Mentor advises and guides and typically relates to professional development.

The Mentor is generally there to provide wisdom, build confidence, and give a guiding hand. Mentors must possess the appropriate and relevant experience, communication skills, patience, and approach to help their mentees develop their understanding, skills, and careers. Mentoring, especially in succession planning, is crucial in preparing individuals for the next step and supporting them afterwards, making them feel prepared and supported in their career progression.

The Coach has skills and capabilities that may occur naturally in an individual. A good coach is generally one who has been trained in specific skills and techniques of questioning, listening, and prompting reflection. Coaching, being non-directive, empowers the individual to find their solutions. Unlike a mentor, it is not the coach's place to advise or instruct but to ask questions and encourage the individual/s they are coaching to find their answers.

I believe that in the realm of leadership and management, every leader can benefit from both a coach and a mentor and here are my reasons:

Most leadership thinkers and commentators, including myself, believe that one of the most remarkable capabilities any leader and manager can have is the ability to see themselves clearly and understand their impact on those around them. Not just being self-aware but knowing yourself can promote great coaching and mentoring.

Leaders face significant challenges, particularly at the executive level, mainly because having the courage to speak the truth can be difficult. Leaders and managers need a 'critical friend,' someone who will hold them up in a mirror and help them see the coach's job—and then give the coach wisdom, ideas, and advice to help them grow and develop the Mentor's job.

In conclusion, coaching and mentoring schemes in an organization can bring plenty of benefits in various areas and need to be part of the broader strategy for the road ahead.


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