Coaches, mentors often confused

August 21, 2010

[Mickey Maurer] really did a great job in [his Aug. 9 column,] “Even CEOs need mentors.” I agree that having a mentor, or having someone to coach you, is valuable.

It has been our experience that some leaders use the words “mentors” and “coaches” interchangeably. There is a difference.

Mentors are valuable in providing information on what they personally did in a similar situation. On the other hand, leaders also need coaches who help them learn how to identify all of the options available to them in a particular situation to find the best solution for themselves. Both share a common goal of helping the leaders be the absolute best they can be.

What we have found with some of our clients is that, although top management may have a goal to build leadership that outperforms their competition:

• Leadership training programs are not designed to produce coaches.

• Leaders who attend leadership development programs only retain 15 percent.

• If you combine leadership training with leadership coaching, you can help the person being coached achieve leadership excellence.

• Coaching is a learned continuous-improvement process. Leadership effectiveness can be measured, like sales and production efficiency, and continuously improved year after year.

Companies who apply the principles of continuous improvement to leadership development and coaching typically will gain a competitive advantage and outperform their competition.


Dick Butz

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