When organizations talk about leadership development, words like coaching and mentoring are often discussed. These terms are used correspondingly. So, it is often assumed they mean the same. Certainly, they do appear similar at first glance. Both involve a person of influence who helps guide a leader to victory. That appears the same thing. In fact, there’s a big difference between mentoring and leadership coaching; and both are essential.
A leader concentrates on a goal, while a mentor focuses on an individual. When a leader is doing a good job, work gets done more quickly and efficiently. A leader usually work with people who are good at what they’re doing already, and make them more efficient by providing the space and resources for them to do their tasks. Leaders encourage their team towards the goal line.
A mentor teaches someone to be better. Their goal is the success of their task, nothing more or less. They provide their mentees space to grow and learn. A good mentor rarely takes charge the way a leader would, they let people work out for themselves, answering questions in a way that would create a positive impact.
Difference between Mentoring and Leadership Coaching
There is much difference between mentoring and leadership coaching but both are important to leadership development:
- Mentors Use Their Own Experience
- Mentoring is less performance based and more relationship based. Mentors share their own personal perceptions, experiences, and knowledge with the mentee. Mentoring is more about overall advancement.
- Relationships Matter in Development
- Mentors are an important part of leadership development even though they don’t guide leaders to immediate action and change. New leaders need that guiding hand and advice, to help them grow into improved professionals. Having somebody to consult for help and advice for developing their leadership skills was profitable. When leaders are attached to a mentor, they’re also more attached to their job. Mentoring, then, is important to keep leaders committed to their jobs and seeking to be better.
- Coaches Focus on Action
- Yet another difference between mentoring and leadership coaching is, while mentoring derives from the experience of the mentor, leadership coaching does the opposite; it comes from the experience of those being coached. Mentors share their experiences, but coaches provoke leaders to reflect on their experience and draw their own resolutions. A mentor will convey what a mentee could have done better, while a coach will ask the person what he could improve on and how to make that possible. Leadership coaching is more active and requires leaders to think not just about improving, but also how to create a strategy.
- Reflection Makes Better Leaders
- When leaders are conveyed how to handle a situation or what they need to change, they usually agree to do better next time around. But coaches don’t make false promises, rather they believe in action. Leadership coaching encourages professionals to improve so they can execute and actually change their behavior and improve their skills. Coaching requires leaders to draw their own conclusions and find solutions. Leaders need someone to coach them to think for themselves while keeping them answerable for their actions and skills development.
Just because there are many differences between mentoring and leadership coaching, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Both mentoring and leadership coaching are essential parts of development coaching. A mentor’s advice and insights can help leaders to see new ways of advancing and learning from the knowledge of others. The chance to reflect on their own experiences and get help setting specific strategies for improvement helps those same leaders improve their practical leadership skills. You can feature mentors as the stage above leaders. You develop from being a manager to a leader to a mentor. Once you’ve attained the mentor stage, it doesn’t mean that you give up your leadership. In contrast, you can be both a leader and a mentor.