Many company leaders are seeking a mentor, coach or advisor to assist them. Is there a difference between these roles?
I think so.
A mentor has already achieved something you want to emulate or replicate yourself. You seek a mentor for wisdom and experience. Someone who is not, or has not been there, will not be effective as a mentor.
A coach helps you organize your thoughts and to develop and execute your plan. You seek a coach for clarity and accountability. Someone who doesn’t listen, in favor of giving advice or offering solutions, will be limited as a coach.
An advisor has a functional or technical expertise, such as manufacturing, retail or distribution. You seek an advisor when you need expertise to solve a specific problem. Someone does not possess specific expertise about your problem will not be helpful as an advisor.
A person hired for one role, say as a coach, may also be qualified to assist you as a mentor or advisor within their area of expertise. And this is useful because they already know how you think and what you expect. On the contrary, it is also important to be aware when the person is being asked to serve beyond their qualifications, such as asking a technical expert to coach in general business.
“Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong – these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”Winston Churchill
I’ve found the leaders who have chosen to work with me are first seeking a consigliere, a counselor. Someone loyal and trustworthy. Someone confidential and discreet. Someone who listens and seeks to understand. Someone who speaks objective truth without judgment. And if I qualify I can offer further assistance as:
- I am an effective mentor for a leader whose business is stuck or those struggling with the transition from individual to team leadership.
- I am an effective coach who understands how lonely it can be at the top and who wants to examine their own thoughts and follow through by working on their business, not just in it.
- I am an effective advisor for new product creation, expanding professional services, and improving client engagement.
Perhaps it would help to talk.
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