Do you need an Executive Coach or an Executive Mentor?

Do you need an Executive Coach or an Executive Mentor?

Do you need an Executive Coach or an Executive Mentor?

When choosing an Executive Coach, clients will often ask how much you ‘tell’ as opposed to ‘ask’ them during Executive Coaching; there is an acceptance that 60% of ‘telling’ the client the answer to a particular question or challenge is fine, providing the Coach is skilled, qualified, and experienced  enough to do so; these Coaches are acting more as Mentors at a senior level.  

More traditional Coaches tend to ask the Coachee a long series of questions in order for them to greatly increase their self-awareness and come up with their own solutions.  This method is effective but can take up a lot of time and result in frustration with the Coachee sometimes becoming annoyed at being asked too often questions, such as: ‘How does that make you feel?’ or ‘What do you wish you had done?’     Coaching sessions can then end up dealing with only one issue,  going round in circles, not resolving key issues, nor creating a SMART Action Plan for improvement and ongoing development. 

So how does an executive or a company’s HR professional decide whether they need to engage an Executive Coach or a Mentor?  Of course, many seasoned, veteran Executive Coaches also operate as Mentors.  Frequently a Mentor can be someone internal within the organization, but the higher a manager climbs, the more difficult it is to find a colleague or peer with the skills and knowledge to develop them into a more effective leader.  It is well documented that ‘it’s lonely at the top’ and often a leader will not want to share their concerns or fears with someone within the organisation.  

When a leader works with an external Executive Coach or Mentor  they can speak openly and frankly in a safe environment to bounce ideas and options around without being judged; they can reach solutions to long-standing problems through the process of talking out loud and being asked very probing relevant questions; additionally they can be challenged on points and decisions and be able to check that their ideas, plans, and actions fit with the long-term business strategy.

In order to identify whether to call in the services of a Coach or Mentor, here are some of the differences between Coaching and Mentoring:

Coaching is usually very goal-centred and aimed at improving behavioural performance, whereas Mentoring tends to be more about guiding and assisting a leader and is conducted by someone who has experienced the same challenges, ‘been there, seen it and done it’, either in a similar role or in an Executive Coaching capacity with other industry leaders. 

Coaching tends to be a shorter-term developmental intervention lasting a few months, whereas Mentoring tends to be longer-term where  major issues and outcomes are discussed and action plans agreed over many months, if not years.  Coaching tends to be very task oriented and often performance driven, focusing on specific issues and competencies  to be developed.  Once the Coachee has successfully acquired and developed the necessary skills and competencies the Coaching Programme can end.  With Mentoring the development tends to be ongoing for the future career and success of the individual leader.

Coaching is often required when there is a gap in performance or expectation, or following a promotion when a leader is asked to ‘step up’ and take on more responsibility, or as a result of a 360 Feedback Review

Mentoring often forms part of a company’s process for Talent Management and Succession Planning.  An Executive Mentor is frequently engaged to assist executives in overcoming certain hurdles, dealing with challenging situations, making the ‘hard calls,’ and to develop expertise in strategic areas.

At Natural Talent we don’t tend to concern ourselves too much with labels but prefer to take the best and most relevant approach; we are more interested in creating swift and sustainable behavioural change and creating excellent results and ROI for our clients, some of whom refer to me as their Executive Coach, others as their Executive Mentor!

‘I can see why they describe you as a Veteran Exec Coach and Mentor!  And why they say that you’ve not just got the Coaching T-shirt, but that you designed it!  No matter how difficult and challenging the issues I brought to the table, you were always able to offer an objective and non-judgemental sounding board, as well as excellent, practical advice.  Thank you for the major difference you’ve help to create in me and my team.’ CEO

About Jill Maidment

If you would like to book any of the following, please contact me.  You can read my eBooks and listen to audiobooks on key leadership topics here.

Executive Coaching and Mentoring, Career and Transition Coaching, Business Coaching, Resilience Coaching, Life Coaching Retreats

Leadership Training, High Performance Leadership Development, Management Training, Leadership and Management Team Development, Team Facilitation, Strategy Away Days and Offsites, Group Coaching

Executive Assessment, 360 Feedback, Face to Face 360 Feedback, Talent Management and Succession Planning