Understanding the Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring
Many leaders describe themselves as coaching employees when they’re actually mentoring them. Because of this, many organizations may be missing out on opportunities to develop leaders as coaches as well as leverage the benefits of mentorship. To help differentiate between coaching and mentoring, here’s a brief definition of each: Mentoring is offering advice based on knowledge, expertise and experience. Coaching is inquiry-based; insightful questioning can spark a person to see themselves and the world differently and solve their own challenges. Both mentoring and coaching can be extremely valuable and helpful. When leaders fully understand the difference between coaching and mentoring, they can have both of these critical skills at their disposal, which can be a double benefit for developing others. They can choose to have a coaching conversation or a mentoring conversation, or they can decide to blend the two. There are many coaching skills courses offered for leaders around the world, but you don’t have to become certified in coaching to practice it as a leader. If you’re interested in expanding your own coaching abilities, here are five suggestions:
- Take the time to build trust, respect and psychological safety.
- Shift from a ‘knowing and telling’ approach to an ‘asking and listening’ style.
- Keep the conversation positive, strengths-based, future-focused and action-oriented.
- Hold candid yet compassionate development conversations.
- Help the employee set specific development goals and hold them accountable.
With a little coaching training, leaders serving as both coaches and mentors can have an enormous impact on the development of employees and future leaders. By doing so, they also can help improve their organization’s performance and productivity, reduce turnover, increase motivation and engagement and have a large positive impact on the bottom line.