You’ll have heard both terms of course. But what is the difference between mentoring and coaching? There is definitely something of a fine line between the two. And both can be highly beneficial to both an entrepreneur, and their business!
The first significant difference between mentoring and coaching is that people may engage a coach for many different areas of life. There are life coaches, business coaches, executive coaches, health coaches, accountability coaches…the list goes on!
The coaching market can, at times, be described as saturated. Some may go as far as arguing that ‘everyone is a coach’. But at Tabono, we firmly believe that the right coach, for the right thing, at the right time, can be gold dust. The power of coaching is enormous. It can allow people to take control of their life and future, rather than just allowing it to happen.
In comparison, it tends to be primarily business owners who seek the support of a mentor. In this instance, mentees are looking to learn from another’s experience and knowledge. They also have the opportunity to ask questions, knowing that the answers will help them to grow their business. We provided a more detailed introduction to mentoring in an earlier blog.
Both coaching and mentoring are all about moving forward and making progress. Both are about about supporting you to make things happen and improve. But a big difference between mentoring and coaching lies in how the relationships actually work.
A coach’s role is to ask questions of the coachee, aiming to draw out what they think is the next step. It’s empowering and effective. When you have a problem, or you’re feeling stuck, it can be so tempting to want someone to tell you what to do. To take the decision making away and make your life (supposedly) easier.
The flaw in this plan though, is that doing what someone else tells you to is not empowering. In fact, it can often leave you feeling like you’re doing the wrong thing.
When we make decisions and take action, it is imperative that we check in with our values and ensure that we’re intending to do aligns with those values. Often when we take advice from others, it is aligned with their values, rather than your own. Coaches will often work on a coachee’s values with them to ensure they’re able to make quicker, easier decisions in future by checking in that it meets their values.
Mentoring is more of a space for the mentee to ask questions of their mentor, drawing on the mentors own experience and knowledge to help them progress. You might ask whether that means they’re asking for advice and so it’s disempowering? Good question. But what business owners are looking for in this scenario is experience. They’re looking for a mentor who understands what they’re working with and can help them with any knowledge gaps, or to suss out where they have weaknesses they can work on.
Getting things done
Both coaching and mentoring can be very action-based and are fantastic for accountability. When you commit to getting something done, you have an increased desire and will to see it through if you’re committing to someone other than just you. This is another reason people might seek out either a coach or a mentor – to make things happen.
Another difference between mentoring and coaching is the length of the relationship. On average, clients would generally work with a coach for anything from a few months to a year, but mentoring relationships tend to go on for much longer. As your mentor gets to know the nuts and bolts of your business, and the journey you’ve been on, as well as where you’re going, their expertise becomes even more invaluable as they know you so well and you don’t need to ‘catch them up’ on things. They become a part of your team. For the long term.
So yes, there are differences between mentoring and coaching, but both can be incredibly helpful as you move through your business journey. And while there are clear differences, both can work hand in hand, to set you, and keep you, on the path to success.