When to coach, when to mentor. They are very different.

Q: As a leader, how would I know when to mentor or when to coach? My answer may surprise you.


Coaching and mentoring are two ways of solving business problems, but many people confuse them.


Mentoring is an information PUSH strategy. Think of it as one-to-one teaching from an accomplished expert. Mentors have been there, done that. Mentors like to share their greatest stuff-ups and pass on knowledge in “teachable moments”.


Coaching is an information PULL strategy. A coaching mindset assumes employees have the capacity to solve their own problems. Coaching will draw out their solution by challenging, exploring, reflecting and sense-making. The coach is the expert in the coaching process, and the coachee is the expert of the context.


Mentors guide and upskill. I know your world. I have walked in your shoes.


Coaches empower and stretch. Why let the fear of failure, self-doubt and a lack of confidence hold you back?


Both bring out the best in people and enable positive change.


Mentors rely on their experience while coaches are experts on navigating the tension of challenge and support.


Either way, the mark of a great leader is being frank and fearless when it matters. Otherwise, what are you there for?


Life's great, Bruce