[December 28, 2013] Teaching, coaching, and mentoring are some of the fundamental traits of a leader. It is commonplace to find articles on the subject and organizational programs demanding it.
Yet, there is some confusion over the concepts. The confusion stems from the fact that the concepts are overlapping and are used differently according to organizational culture. In this blog, the common usage is employed for ease of the reader. For strict definitions see the links below on: teaching1, coaching2, and mentoring3.
All leaders are expected to teach and coach employees. Normally, this is a formal developmental process for the leader as they themselves advance in the organization. Leaders must be able to teach information and see to it that employees improve on their ability to execute organizational tasks.
Junior leaders with some experience must also coach progressively complex team skills. This normally involves coaching nearly all or selective team members of the organization. It could also involve specialized or ad hoc teams. This has the side benefit of helping more senior leaders judge the capability of the junior leader.
While anyone can mentor, it is more likely to find senior leaders employing it.
Select employees (more often than not, junior leaders) are identified early as having the characteristics of a successful leader or manager. Senior leaders are more likely to mentor those employees because the return on their time investment.
Mentoring is also selective because it is resource intensive and requires special skills. Those skills involved in mentoring differ from teaching and coaching. It requires a greater degree of people skills, effort, and motivation techniques.
Leading means to teach, coach, and mentor. Leaders are in the business of people and people are what makes us successful.
Teaching means to depart information, knowledge, and wisdom. This can be done in a variety of settings and by various methods, but communication is the key.
Coaching means to oversee the reinforcement of skills, often repetitively practiced. A proficient coach also provides guidance and feedback on the development of those skills being coached.
Mentoring is enabling a person to be successful over the long term in the organization and involves both teaching and coaching. The relationship between mentor and protégé is often longer in duration.