A Career Coach or Mentor and What is the difference?
Many of us are navigating through these challenging times on our own, and it's tough. If you're lucky enough to have someone who can help put things into perspective and narrow your focus, you're more likely to succeed and have a more balanced life. However, when you're at a fork in the road in your career path is it best to seek a mentor or a career coach, and what is the difference?
Michael Mondavi is a firm believer in mentorship; he says it’s probably the most important thing a young person can do as they are growing up.
“Having a mentor to at least bounce ideas off of, to take their experience and guide you, whether it is a skill or a knowledge is extremely valuable,” says Mondavi.
But many of us are navigating through these challenging times on our own, and it’s tough. If you’re lucky enough to have someone who can help put things into perspective and narrow your focus, you’re more likely to succeed and have a more balanced life.
However, when you’re at a fork in the road in your career path is it best to seek a mentor or a career coach, and what is the difference?
According to Forbes, “Mentors are successful people who share their hard-won wisdom to provide insight and guidance as an entrepreneur encounters challenges along her journey.” On the other hand, a career coach focuses on the tactical skills you need to advance your career.
In the most basic terms, think Yoda versus Phil Jackson.
Yoda is regarded as one of the ultimate mentors. In the movie, “The Empire Strikes Back,” Luke Skywalker finds himself needing guidance and training to understand his full potential as a Jedi Knight; this is when he meets the elf-like creature and Jedi Master, Yoda. Yoda understands Luke needs support and the opportunity to learn and grow. These life-lessons eventually enable Luke to build self-confidence and independence.
But mentors are not just for entrepreneurs or lead characters in fantasy films. Anyone can benefit from a mentor. Mentor/mentee relationships are often lifelong. They develop organically and can go a while without contact only to pick up where they left off down the road. Your mentor does not necessarily have to be from your industry, but generally, they have a working knowledge of the situation or path you want to take.
A good mentor can advise you on anything from career management to where to send your kids to school. In some situations, they may be looking to groom you to eventually replace them.
Keith Krach, founder of the Global Mentor Network describes in Forbes how mentor/mentee relationships have to establish that they are friends first, professionals second. They are your one phone call, your lifeline that will help you through the twists and turns of your career.
Mentor/Mentee relationships are strong, unique, and increasingly rare. Most people don’t stay long enough at a company to build those relationships with their colleagues. Unfortunately, seasoned managers don’t seek potential mentees in this more aggressive, overworked, and competitive atmosphere.
A career coach focuses on the skills you need to move you to that next level. They know your industry and understand how you go from point A to B. This could be a project that encompasses a leadership role working cross-functionally within your organization or just a necessary software skill you need to operate in your position. Coaches are there to take a 360 view of your skills (positives and negatives) and get you to the next level. In Phil Jackson’s case, that meant 11 NBA championships. But how did he do it? He had to manage a team of the best players, understand each of their skill sets, and get them to work together to produce results.
He once said, “The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome. The ride is a lot more fun that way.”
The most significant difference between a mentor and a career coach is that a coach is compensated, and they work on a specific timeline. When you need a push or are looking to change direction in your career, a coach might be someone you want to hire, but if you are looking for long-term guidance a mentor is more appropriate.
Formulating a mentor and mentee relationship can take time. Our mentor Fred Ryan, CEO and Publisher of the Washington Post, talks about how he and Ronald Reagan formed a lifelong relationship when he was right out of college. As a young college graduate, Ryan was bold enough to approach President Reagan after a speaking event. Ryan told President Reagan that he was impressed with what he heard, and he would like to work with him one day. President Reagan didn’t brush him aside as a young kid who didn’t know anything. He took the time to speak to Ryan for 45 mins that day, and a few years later, Ryan joined his Presidential campaign and later became his Chief-of-Staff.
The Global Mentor Network believes that mentorship is key to a successful career. We are not all lucky enough to have someone like President Ronald Reagan take an interest in our career. So GMN has pulled together incredibly accomplished leaders to offer their hard-won wisdom and provide mentorship at scale. Their stories, advice, and life lessons can help you in your career journey.
Discover why Tim Draper says, “leaders are superheroes” or why Audrey Cooper says having a North Star “is the most important thing.” If you have a pressing question, get ready to ask it at one of our Ask a Mentor LIVE sessions, or send an email through our Ask a Mentor Online portal.
Mentorship no longer has to be for the lucky few. We can help you through the most challenging points in your career and can be your lifeline now. The Global Mentor Network is here to help. Register to start learning from our mentors today.