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Comments, Characteristics, & Coaches


“Are you ready for some football?”

-Hank Williams, Jr.


Every once in a while I write an email that really resonates, and based on the comments I received the past two weeks, THIS email about mentors was one of them. Many readers even were kind enough to say that I was one of their mentors, a role I accept with both honor and appreciation. I also like to consider myself a coach, which begs the questions

What are the differences between a mentor and a coach? And can I be both?

The start of football season seems like a good time to consider both the similarities and differences between the two, as the words will be used interchangeably on TV broadcasts all season. The great coaches I watch every weekend share similar characteristics, but coaches do not only exist on sports teams, as there are business coaches, performance coaches, and in my case, career coaches. My examination of coaches across multiple industries begins with the three greatest differences between and mentor and a coach.

  1. Duration – A mentor is a long-term relationship, often a lifetime, designed to provide continued support while a coach is often a short-term relationship within a defined time period.

  2. Focus on goals and performance – While a mentor may take pride in her mentee achieving their goals, that is often not the focus of the relationship. For a coach, however, the focus is on both improving performance and achieving measurable goals.

  3. Formality of the relationship – The mentor relationship is not a formal agreement, rather often an unspoken commitment from one person to another. A coaching relationship is more formal, however, with a clear understanding of the responsibilities of each person.

With the differences in mind, we can also identify the characteristics that great coaches and mentors share that allow them to be successful. Notice that these are all verbs, meaning great coaches and mentors are people of action (although may use words to assist them). In summary, great coaches and mentors:

Inspire: Through both their words and actions, they create an environment where you want to take build, create, serve, or change.

Educate: Always an instructor, they see the gaps in your skills and work to fill them.

Motivate: Imaginative and resourceful, they find a way to get results from the “not yet inspired”.

Lead: Providing direction and setting the pace, they are always showing the way.

Inspire, Educate, Motivate, Lead…I like that! By that definition, it appears that I can be both a mentor and a coach (and so can you) if I have those four characteristics. With that in mind, I am so happy to announce that I will soon be launching a new online resource to Inspire, Educate, Motivate and Lead you to a deeper understanding of your personal and professional development. While I can’t offer any additional details today, be sure to watch future emails for more information.

Ready to Inspire, Educate, Motivate, & Lead, -ks

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