Coaching, training or mentoring? 1


I often have to explain that coaching is not the same as mentoring, training or counselling.

I thought it might be useful to take a step back and reflect on the differences between various forms of capability development options, and their different uses.

The differences can best be illustrated by comparing the different capabilities in a grid:

Purpose Approach Agenda Owner Source of Expertise Intended Outcome
Coach Unlock individual’s  inherent potential in coached area Ask powerful questions to tap individual’s vision, wisdom, & directed action in service of individual’s self-identified agenda Both Coach and individual hold individual’s agenda Individual Predictable sustainable results; achievement of full potential
Trainer Gain specific skills Provide targeted learning  experiences Trainer Trainer Classroom learning, at least on site
Mentor Get advice Tell, based on personal experience Mentee Mentor Help at point of need; may not be self-sustaining
Career Counsellor Obtain career direction and support Serves as counselee’s advocate, adviser, and guide Counselee Career Counsellor Enhanced career performance and growth
Psychologist or Therapist Psychological healing and/or insight; pain resolution; coping mechanisms Varies. Understand history, increase self-awareness / observation, & behaviour change Largely designed by therapist, though typically client brings ‘presenting problem’ Therapist, although he/she does not normally give ‘advice’ as in training and mentoring Insight into history, understanding of feelings, change in dysfunctional behaviour patterns

So pick the right option, depending on what you want to achieve.  Oh, and sometimes we pick the easy option – we want someone to tell us what to do (e.g. a mentor, trainer or career counsellor) – because we don’t have to expend energy thinking about it for ourselves….

But think back to the times when you have had to work something through and come to a solution yourself, and how much more committed to action you were as a result.

I know I’ve had many experiences where a supervisor has told me what to do, and then I have faltered because I didn’t really buy into what he/she suggested, and I don’t have the same drive as I do when I work out my own answers.
Isn’t that the better place to be – passionate, motivated, and empowered to take action; and that sense of satisfaction that you worked it out for yourself, with the help of someone else’s great questions.

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