Many business owners and executives know they need some guidance or assistance, but are not sure whether to source a coach, consultant or mentor. Depending on which expert you listen to, there is a measure of overlap between the roles. In fact, it's not unusual for the same person to be carrying out each of the roles at different times, sometimes at the same time. But it's important that both the professional and the client are aware of the differences.
So what is the difference between a business mentor, coach or consultant? Here is a thumbnail description of the three roles.
A Business Consultant is an expert who carries out a specific task in a business, usually by being “hands on”, and is responsible for delivering an agreed outcome for the client. A consultant may be brought in for a short-term (or a long-term) project, whereas coaches and mentors are generally steady, ongoing engagements.
A Business Coach is an expert who trains and teaches a particular required skill so that the client learns “how to” carry out the tasks in future in a more effective and productive way. Top athletes have coaches, because they know a good coach will improve their performance. The same concept applies to top executives.
A Business Mentor is an expert who has broad, lengthy business experience, sometimes evidenced by “grey hair”! The role of the business mentor is not to be “hands on”, nor to teach particular skills, but rather to listen and to understand the business issues being addressed, and then to guide the executive to make his or her own decisions and implement a plan of execution – but only after a range of alternatives or “scenarios” have been explored, drawing on the mentor’s experience.
The mentor is there as a “guide on the side” to facilitate the best plan of action. However it is always the executive who makes the decision and is responsible for the outcome. In this way, the executive also grows in experience and becomes a more confident, productive and effective all-round executive.
An “executive mentor” is a mentor who focuses on the development of the person, while a “business mentor” focuses more on the business issues at hand. These roles are different, but do overlap.
The value of business mentors has been well established, just as coaches are proven in the sporting and athletic world. The real question for you as a business owner or executive is “Who should be my mentor?” That is crucial.
Contact us if you would like to discuss options for business consulting, coaching or mentoring, and which option is best for you.