Mentoring vs Coaching
By Merci Miglino
Throughout my many transformations – from teacher to political fixer, from burn out to enlightenment to professional coach, I crossed the bridge that said, “I don’t need any help” to “Who can I get to help me?”
On that side of the bridge stood a posse of professionals including several coaches and mentors. Each brought with them opportunities for analysis, reflection and action that ultimately got me unstuck and moving toward success and contentment once again.
However, I must say (and not just because I am a coach because I’m also a mentor) my first coaching experiences were unlike anything I expected or frankly believed possible. My coaches had no agenda. No opinion on what I should do, need to do or better do to get what I wanted.
It was a so different, unique – here was someone who really got me – showed unconditional, non-judgemental regard for my views, lifestyle and aspirations. It was just amazing!
And in this heady space, I came up with my own definition and approach to success.
Clearly, coaching and mentoring have their place as they both:
- Facilitate the exploration of needs, motivations, and skills to support someone in making real, lasting change.
- Offer support in setting appropriate goals and methods of assessing progress in relation to these goals
- Observe, listen and ask questions to understand the client’s situation
However, a coach approach also maintains unconditional positive regard for the client, which means that the coach or mentor is at all times supportive and non-judgmental. There is no modification of action based on what the mentor would do.
Finally, I have to say good mentors use coaching skills to help folks:
- Be clear about their big picture goals, values and needs
- Develop sound structures and accountability to accomplish the important long-term development goals
- Leverage their best qualities and talents
If you’re serious about making changes in your life, get support. Find someone skilled at listening and powerful questioning who can release judgement and ‘stay in the room’ while you explore the right course for you. I say find a coach.
If you want to understand what coaching is, get some coaching skills and implement a coaching culture in your organization start by sampling a Coaching Module.
Download a coach training module & listen to recordings of live teleclasses.