Coaching and Mentoring

As I am about to walk into another session of HeART to HeArt Sales Management and Coaching, a thought enters my mind saying people will ask me the difference between coaching and mentoring. It is a common question because many are still learning and will always continue to learn new disciplines.

Coaching is when you work with a ‘client,’ not a ‘coachee’ as many refer to the partner, to help him achieve a specific set of goals in a specified area within a chosen period of time ad with the outcomes having a measurable and beneficial impact on the client. In coaching, a coach does not teach, does not instruct, and does not impart any part of his own beliefs or choices at work or in life upon the client.

Mentoring is when you work with a ‘protégé’ and carefully teach, instruct and, maybe, impart portions of your own beliefs and choices at work or in life. Mentoring essentially presupposes that you are more skilled, more knowledgeable and wise. Coaching, on the other hand, does not require of you to be more skilled, more knowledgeable in the area you are coaching your client in. It does, though, require you to be competent in the discipline of coaching.

Martinez & Mandhyan
Martinez & Mandhyan

That is coaching and mentoring in a nutshell but let my friend and mentor, Adrian Martinez, tell it in a much better way in an article he wrote:

“The Man called Mentor

What do you call the person who is being mentored? Most would respond—rather hastily and unthinkingly, I might add—that such a person is called a mentee. Understandable since we have trainor (another non-word) and trainee, why not mentor and mentee? But I find that sad and alarming since mentor refers to a special kind of person with whom one has a special relationship. It goes beyond training, tutoring and patronage.

The man who gave his name to this special relationship served none other than Ulysses, the king of Ithaca of the legendary Trojan War. As he left for Troy and subsequently began his 20-year absence (10 for the Trojan War and 10 more for his roundabout journey home), he asked Mentor to see to the care and upbringing of his son Telemachus.

Apparently, Mentor did a very good job, and thus his name passed into language to describe anyone who is ‘a wise and trusted counselor.’ So, based on this, a person who is mentored can call himself a Telemachus, as in “I am Telemachus’ to his Mentor.” Fo those with less bookish tastes, I recommend the word ‘protégé’ even though it is better suited to describe one who is under the care of a patron.

But why is this important? Words convey meaning and experience and I am concerned that the meaning of this wonderful word will be leeched away by corporate newspeak. Without meaning to, corporations adopt words hoping to imbibe the spirit of those words but the opposite happens. The fast pace of work drains the meaning of the word and leaves it hollow, creating a buzz-word instead of a means of communication. Such is the fate, I fear, of the word Mentor. The process has already begun with the creation of the non-word ‘mentee’ to designate someone under the care of a mentor. There are other, more appropriate words that refer to various aspects of the word: student, pupil, protégé. There is no need to create another word, particularly one that threatens to forever leech the true meaning of the word and render hollow a relationship so urgently needed in the workplace. Instead of competitors and kings lording it over today’s corporations, we, more than ever, need corporations made up of Mentors and protégés.

by Adrian Martinez, for the program, “the MindFul Leader” by Inner Sun June, 2004”

Hope you like that? More of these InSights coming up in future blogs! Raju Mandhyan

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