I remember being told “It’s not what you know, or who you know, that advances your life.”
“It’s what you know about who you know!”
Folks get mighty confused when it comes to finding the right kind of help and support in business. As a leader in business, I engage with many people who challenge me, support me and show me really cool ways to achieve my goals with maximum leverage of time and money.
To some extent, I don’t care what they call themselves professionally, as long as they can make good judgement calls on the style of help I need at any one point in time.
Sometimes, I need someone to help me work something out. I’m not looking for someone to tell me the answer is 3.142, just someone who can guide my thoughts and actions in a sensible direction until I see the light or achieve my goal. This is what I call traditional COACHING. Its process based, and focuses on my self learning and decision-making, rather than being taught or told how to do it.
There are many coaching models (mainly processes) that one can follow, including GROW, FUEL and OSCAR – all acronyms representing step by step approaches to understanding, solving and executing effective plans.
A Business Coach doesn’t have to possess specific technical or commercial skills. A good coach understands
people, their psychology, motivation and nemesis. Coaching is largely about facilitating clear minds aka getting folk’s heads sorted out.
So what is MENTORING?
Mentoring describes a relationship in which a more experienced person uses his or her greater knowledge and understanding of the work or workplace to support the development of a more junior or inexperienced person.
The best Business Mentors will have specific skills, knowledge and experience of the topic being addressed. They can open doors for you and help you make new and valuable connections. If the topic is running a business, I would expect the Mentor to have significant experience of running businesses.
Rather than recreating the wheel, my Mentor shortcuts my journey to the finished solution. I have great people around me who mentor me in sales, marketing, finance and operations. I don’t have time to keep up with leading edge techniques in all disciplines, and I don’t have time to learn from first principles every time. Sometimes, I just want to know how to do something effectively and efficiently. Some may even call it consulting.
Mentors are often great role models too. The best companies in the world have structured mentoring systems in place to grow and develop staff. Mentors inspire like all great leaders.
Both COACHES and MENTORS should hold you to account. Being accountable for doing what you say you will is powerful. Painful sometimes, but essential in ensuring things get done.
In my experience as a Business Coach & Mentor for others, I have found that my clients ask for solution based help first, but we end up sorting out their heads first (Coaching) before we can talk about specific strategic or tactical solutions.
So being a little provocative, Coaches don’t need to Mentor, but Mentors must be able to Coach 🙂