Varying Shades of Gray….Mentors, Coaches and Consultants
Mentors, Consultants and Coaches, are terms both similar and yet opposed depending on who you talk to. The degree of overlap and misuse is astounding. Fear not, oh yea of newness to business, as we will do our best to help bring clarity to these three sometimes confusing services.
When you talk with professional mentors, consultants, and coaches, you get various definitions. Based on our research, we have concluded that mentor, consultant and coach do have rather specific definitions but the area is of varying shades of grey. Here is their definition by Merriam Webster:
- Mentor: someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mentor).
- Consultant: a person who gives professional advice or services to businesses for a fee (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consultant)
- Coach: a private teacher who gives someone lessons in a particular subject (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/coach)
These are our interpretations of the above definitions:
- Mentor: Giving advice or, put into other terms, “taking someone under their wing”
- Consultant: Gives both advice and services
- Coach: Private teacher
You may note that the mentor and coach are similar in that they both offer only advice where the consultant offers both advice and performs services for the client. We believe that the real difference between mentor and coach is that the mentor works quietly behind the scenes, observing the mentee and stepping in with advice when either appropriate or the mentee asks for help. The coach, on the other hand, is a teacher who works continuously, a predetermined schedule, with the student, as it were, to help set goals and to guide them down a path to achieve the student’s goals. Like a teacher, the coach also holds the student accountable for completing those milestones needed to reach each goal. Coaching is a continuing process where mentoring is as required. Consulting is usually project or goal bases and can either be a continuous process or end once the specific goal has been achieved.
Next week, we will bring you our thoughts on mentors, consultants and coaches and when they are applicable and how to determine their value.