Coach and Mentors

What makes the difference between a coach and a mentor? Do they use the same tools and do they have different intentions?

Coach and mentors use similar tools: transactional analysis, Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), Non-violent communication, meeting facilitation, Cynefin, balanced scorecards, and a wide range of communication and self-development technics. Does it make them delivering the same service? We may explore the origin of the knowledge of the coach and the mentor to explore their difference.

Where does a coach get its training from? I often heard that it’s necessary to be trained by a coach to become a coach. A similar image is said about studies to become a psychotherapist: “ … before you start being a practitioner and deliver psychotherapies, you must first receive one”.
If that’s true, you still get a lot of online resources to train yourself to coach yourself, maybe you have already visited the “self-development” section in libraries. These are labelled as coaching resources.

So where do you get the resources to become a mentor?

There are plenty of success stories about mentors related to articles in Harvard Business Review and The Economist but where can you find a training on mentorship.
I’m not even sure that I could find a mentor in mentoring. Let’s assume it exists, for the minimum I would ask you to agree they are rare. Is that the difference between a coach and a mentor? I feel there is something more substantial to it, maybe we can continue to explore together.

Both are seasoned guides delivering educational content for professionals. A coach can deliver a few hours, few days to several months of coaching but a mentor would probably tend to be present for a longer duration.

Mentors will probably address one individual when a coach can help one individual or a large group. Agile coaches are familiar with the education of an entire tribe and groups of Agile coaches are collectively addressing swarms of tribes.

Alternatively, a mentor may educate a single professional. He illustrates his lessons with examples of his own experience, serving as a reference and a guide. A mentor relates to situations he experienced or witnessed similar to the one he tries to help with. A mentor will probably have a long-term vision of where he wants to take a mentee to.

Notice that if the mentor/mentee exists in the language, nothing equivalent exist for a coach. Coached doesn’t seem to be an appealing equivalent to the mentee. A coach acts less than a Sensei and more as a facilitator to help an individual or a group to discover a knowledge, a tool or a practice.

The listening skills are important for a mentor to succeed in delivering its knowledge. It probably makes the difference between an average and a great mentor.

But not a single coach can survive and thrive without great listening skills. There is not one but many ways of opening your attention to an audience, and that is maybe the most difficult coaching skill to acquire.

I’m interested in reading your comments.


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