Oftentimes people assume that a Leadership Coach and Mentor are one and the same. Or, they believe that their guidance is interchangeable. Here we’re going to talk about some of the key differences between them, and why having both a mentor and a coach might be the best investment of your life.

How is a leadership coach different from a mentor? While many guidance styles outside of mentorship and coaching exist, they are typically reserved for spaces outside of the professional world. We’ve all heard of the successful CEO who attributes their success to the guidance of their mentor, but is a mentor all you might need?

What Makes a Leadership Coach

Mentors are individuals who have been in the exact same position as you, and provide guidance by telling you what they did. Their recommendations for tackling a challenge would be to follow in their footsteps, which can be very limiting.

A Coach on the other hand is an individual who may have been in the same position as you at some point, but has the tools to help you approach the challenge yourself. They empower you to see the correct path and allow you to seize the solution yourself.

Consider this: you are on a deep forest hike with both a coach, and a mentor. You come across a raging river that lies just before your goal. You know that if you step in carelessly, the river will sweep you away.

Your mentor says, “I’ve crossed this river before. Do exactly as I did and you’ll pass.”

The coach says, “I haven’t seen this river before, but I know the signs of how you can best cross any river.”

Sure, the obvious answer for this specific situation may be to follow the guidance of the mentor, but what about the next river that you’ll face? What about when they aren’t around? 

What if it isn’t a river at all, but an entirely new situation that your mentor has never seen? If your mentor can’t recall how they handled a challenge because they’ve never seen it, then you’re at a serious disadvantage.

Training Makes a Difference

In short, a Coach provides long-lasting and powerful tools to you that are future-proof. 

They are trained in ways that allow them to open up spaces that help you self-discover. With a coach’s guidance, you may be able to see paths even your mentor might’ve missed.

An investment in a coach is an investment for your future. That’s the difference.

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