The most critical questions a business owner can ask themselves when looking for an external ally to help them grow their business, who will help me take my business to the next level, a coach or a mentor? To further elaborate on the criticality of the question, imagine yourself standing in a shop where you can buy a time machine, and the salesperson asks you," where do you want to travel to, past or future".
Most business coaches present their credentials as previous owners of successful businesses, and since they have been in your shoes in the past, they can help you in the present and future. They are offering to take you to their history to learn from their experiences, mistakes, and success so that you can be successful.
Mentorship is about someone else past and learning from their experiences. The assumption here is that everything around you, including yourself, your mindset, your strengths and weaknesses, are almost the same as the person mentoring you. This approach can and does work in limited circumstances, but not always. Factors around us are changing at a rate we have never seen been and no two days are alike. It's actually about them and not you.
Coaching is about the present and future. its about helping you create your own journey. You may make mistakes but coach will ensure you learn from these and do not repeat them. A coach leverage you, your mindset, your strength, your weakness, your circumstances and your strengths. It's all about you. Note a business coach does leverage their past experiences and learnings but not for you to use it as is but to help you find your path forward. They use it to create flags and boundaries that allow you to make your own choices and decisions.
Who is a business coach
A coach is an unbiased and skilled partner, who with your help, builds a good understanding of you, your business and your aspirations. They are always there to listen to you without judgment and highlight the patterns, vibes, and emotions you cannot pick. Challenges you to go beyond the day to day and set stretched yet achievable goals. They help you make better decisions by challenging your thought processes, habits and ways of doing things. They upskill you along the journey with tools, approaches and mindset so you can grow as a person and an entrepreneur. A coach holds you accountable and, most importantly, teaches you to take time to acknowledge and appreciate yourself and the people around you because nothing is either achievable or worth it without you.
Here are four critical differences between a coach and a mentor
Future Focused Vs. Past Orientation
A coach works as per the needs and style of the client to solve present and future problems. In contrast, a business mentor shares their past and personal experiences with an assumption that their mentee has the ability, knowledge and skills to tailor it to their situation.
Learning Journey vs. Advice
A coach shares feedback, frameworks, methodologies and tools to help their clients explore and find a more relevant and tailored solution. This approach upskills clients to build their capability to do the same for themselves in future. On the other hand, a mentor provides advice or solution based on their personal experiences without considering clients uniques situations and circumstances. The expectation is that client can apply them as is.
Mindset shift vs. Solution-focused
A coach facilitates behaviours and mindset change by offering choices, questioning thought processes and reinforcing learning. A mentor provides immediate solutions focused more on putting out fires rather than preventing them.
Independence vs. Dependence
A coach enables their clients to build their capability by reinforcing the learnings and embedding a structured approach to problem-solving. On the other hand, a mentor unconsciously feeds dependency syndrome by offering solutions without making the client do the hard work to search for them.