Mentors apply their expertise to real-time situations their clients face. They talk things through with clients and interventions are usually of the expert “tell me what to do” variety. Development comes when clients take the mentors ideas, go away, and take action.
Coaching is different, especially if it’s ‘coaching for the executive’s agenda’*. Coaches create a safe environment for clients to think for themselves, find clarity, make decisions and plan. That takes being more interested in your client’s thoughts … than sharing your own.
- The concept of “coaching for the executive agenda’ comes from Robert Witherspoon’s book Four Essential Ways That Coaching Can Help Executives. It’s very different from coaching for skills, performance, or development.