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Mentor or Coach?

In Coaching, General, Leadership by paul

Mentor or Coach?

Its interesting that Mentor and Coach are regularly used when describing the same discipline and how there is some confusion over the true meaning of each.


Coaching is a powerful method of helping an individual to grow. It requires no technical knowledge of a subject but assumes the individual has within them all they need to grow. The coach will ask questions of the coachee in oder that they come up with their own answers.
In sport, is the coach a better performer than the student, and often the coach has been successful in their respective discipline but thats the Mentoring aspect of the relationship, is Rory McIlroys coach a better golfer than he is? I doubt it or he or she would be the one earning the big bucks!
A coach stands on the outside looking in, Mike Spracknell, coach to Redgrave and Pinsent, confirms that the pair had long exceeded his technical expertise in the sport and it was his coaching skills that allowed the pair to excel.


A mentor on the other hand, shares technical experience and skills with the mentee and is often an expert in their field, the term originated as follows:-
“The story of Mentor comes from Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus, king of Ithaca, fights in the Trojan War and entrusts the care of his household to Mentor, who serves as teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus.
After the war, Odysseus is condemned to wander vainly for ten years in his attempt to return home. In time, Telemachus, now grown, ventures in search of his father. Athena, Goddess of War and patroness of the arts and industry, assumes the form of Mentor and accompanies Telemachus on his quest. Father and son reunite and cast down would-be usurpers of Odysseus’ throne and Telemachus’s birthright.
The word Mentor evolved to mean trusted advisor, friend, teacher and wise person. History offers many examples of helpful mentoring relationships: Socrates and Plato, Hayden and Beethoven, Freud and Jung. Mentoring is a fundamental form of human development where one person invests time, energy and personal know-how in assisting the growth and ability of another person.
History and legend record the deeds of princes and kings, but each of us has a birthright to actualize our potential. Through their deeds and work, mentors help us to move toward that actualization.”
*From Shea, Gordon F. (1997) Mentoring (Rev. Ed.). Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications”
So we use a combination of the two disciplines to achieve great results with clients.