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Being a Coach vs. a Mentor

Manager and mentor concept

Coaching and mentoring are terms that many people use interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two.  Coaching is usually task based, while mentoring is more relationship based. Sometimes a coach and a mentor are the same person, sometimes they are not.

The new school year recently started, and with the new school year comes new sports seasons. I have friends that volunteer their time by coaching kids’ sports at various levels. One friend coaches young kids in soccer and his philosophy is that soccer should be fun, especially at the level he teaches. Another friend coaches athletes at the high school level and their technical ability and understanding of the game is taken more seriously.

Both love what they do, which is helping kids be better at their sport; that to me is a coach. In my opinion, coaching is focused on teaching a specific skill within a set time frame.

Manager and mentor conceptOn the other hand, mentorship to me is about the bigger picture. The coach that is teaching little kids to not only kick and chase the ball, but also to have fun along the way is a good mentor to them. My friend that coaches high school basketball also gives them advice to navigate the college application and selection process.  While he is no expert, he provides great insight and many of his  past students still call him and ask for life advice. His investment in his team outside of the lessons on enhancing their basketball skills shows me is that he’s evolved his position as a coach into a mentorship role.

There are moments when all of us are coaching, whether it’s helping to train a new employee at your company or teaching your kids how to tie their shoes. My challenge for you is to take these moments and just like my friends did, evolve your coaching into mentoring.

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”  ― Robert Frost

Have a great weekend,