During this week’s Team Leader training (at our office), we discussed the differences between being a “coach” and being a “mentor.”  The two words are often used interchangeably, but really have different meanings.  Both are critical to success.

We shared two very small words that point to the key difference: DO and BE.

A coach is more about the doing; how do I complete a task correctly?  How do I work more efficiently? How do I meet production goals?

A mentor is about the being; who am I being in the world?  What kind of person do I want to be?  What kind of employee/leader/teammate do I want to be?

I decided to do some additional research and found other simple contrasts between the two.

  • A coach is function-based, while a mentor is rooted in the relationship.
  • The focus of a coach is performance, while the mentor is focused on the individual.
  • The coach often comes with the job; the mentor is usually selected.
  • The coach’s teachings are applicable to the task at hand, the mentor shares skills for life.

Consider these quotes:

A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. -Oprah Winfrey

A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment. – John Wooden

What qualities have you observed in your best coaches and mentors?

Tuesday Tidbits are weekly messages I send to my leadership team. They are generally short & sweet, often focused on leadership or teamwork, always positive and, hopefully, motivational. I hope you also find some meaning in them.

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