Mentoring and coaching may give the impression that they have the same job description, but the reality could not be further from that idea. The point of similarity between a mentor and a coach lies in their personal investment in making the life of whoever they are mentoring or coaching, more successful. In a professional work environment, these two very different kinds of relationships can bring very different kinds of results.
What is the difference between a coach and a mentor in a professional environment?
A coach and a mentor are different in how their approach towards how they navigate you through a professional work environment. A mentor is someone who is well established in the industry you are trying to make a name for yourself in. They are the people who have made it to where you want to be, and they know what advice you need to get there. But a coach has a more hands-on approach to how they help you achieve success.
When you think of the word 'coach' without any context, the first image that is likely to crop up in your mind is the coach of some sports team – say football or basketball. And any coach you meet in your own professional environment undertake some of the same philosophies in helping you find success. They are more likely to actively engage with each step of your progress and even point out your mistakes while showing you how you can improve. If your mentor was one of your favorite sports players giving you advice, then your coach can be likened to the coach on your team, someone who is actively involved in your growth.
A good example of a great coach is Bill Campbell. And while there are various people who can attest to how he has helped them, he has never made it a point to try to shine himself. And that is also a differentiating factor behind a mentor and a coach. While a mentor is more likely to be someone who has achieved a level of social recognition, a coach can also be someone who is well known within their industry for their talents and expertise, but not necessarily outside of it.
How do you find a coach or mentor within your profession?
You may be intimidated at the thought of looking for a mentor or coach, but the process is actually rather simple. The first thing you need to do is find someone who you look up to. The person does not necessarily have to be within your company but they should be someone whose career you can aspire to. If you think that the person is authentic and can provide you with real professional guidance, then they are a good candidate for becoming a mentor.
In case you cannot immediately think of anyone you admire or do not want to mail someone you are not familiar with, do not fret. There are many other ways to find a mentor. Your University Alumni Association may be able to guide you as can any local meetups you are interested in. The more you network, the more your chances of finding the right mentor goes up. You could also ask your family and friends for guidance. Alternatively, you could approach an association that can link you with your ideal mentor or coach. A recommended association and community that works with pairing mentors and coaches to women, in particular, is Lean In Singapore.
How do you find a coach or mentor through an association or community in Singapore?
Associations and communities designed to pair you with a mentor or coach bring together people across industries that have shown interest in doing just that. By approaching an organization that specializes in your area of interest, you will find access to well-known and reputed mentors and coaches.