Mentor, Consultant and Coaches – How They Work


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In our last blog, we gave some definitions about three services: mentoring, consulting and coaching. One set of definitions, courtesy of Merriam Webster and the other, what we have learned in discussing with various people in the industry. What we would like to do is to expand our understanding regarding these three services.

A mentor is someone who looks over your shoulder acting as your guide offering suggestions and recommendations. A mentor is someone who has the necessary experience to offer support with what you are doing. Experience here is key. Without experience, recommendations are no more than good intentions or, and not to be insulting, nothing more than a blind guide.  A mentor is someone who has walked your path before you and has made those mistakes you are about to make but having made them before, they help you recognize them and then navigate you around the problem.  A mentor allows you the opportunity to be yourself and go your own direction. A good mentor will allow you to make minor mistakes as a learning experience but will not allow you to fail your business.

A consultant brings specialized expertise and talent to the table. They typically either act as advisor or in many cases, perform specialized services. A dear friend of mine, my mentor to be honest, has assisted clients with projects ranging from software development to financial matters to actually running the company for a brief period of time to help sort out internal corporate problems. He has led team meetings, and has given recommendations for, and coordinated reorganization efforts. His services are by performance more than advice as he is integrated into the company, although usually on a temporary basis. He is a troubleshooter of sorts. When the project is complete, he steps down and awaits the next problem to be dealt with should it arise and the business, request future services.

Coaches start with an objective assessment of the business from both a financial and functional perspective. Once that is understood, the coach will work with the business owner or management team to identify the short and long term goals and objectives. Based on the assessment, the coach will help the owner or management team determine whether the goals and objective are attainable or if they need to be broken into smaller, more attainable goals. Once the plan to reach the goal has been defined, the coach and owner or management team will agree to a timeline to meet each goal to which the coach will hold them accountable. Once the goal is met, a new goal will be set. If you have concluded that coaching is an ongoing process, womb to tomb, you are absolutely correct. Coaching is a continuing process.

Next week we will talk about valuing mentoring, consulting and coaching services.