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The Concepts of Mentoring, Coaching, and Directing

Published On 12/27/2011 |

Category: Personal Development

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Being a guide for someone is definitely not an easy task. You have to be experienced and wise enough to be able to share knowledge and wisdom, and moreover, you need to be able to know how to share your knowledge and wisdom well enough in order to be completely understood. You also have to know how to approach people, how to empower and encourage them, and how to make them feel better about themselves without babying them. You also have to tread the fine line between cloistering people and keeping them away from the wrong path in life, while still giving them the chance to learn on their own by making a few mistakes on their way to greatness.

There are many different ways that you can be a guide to a potential follower, and it all depends on what you aim to do, as well as on how control you are willing to exert. There are three main paths that you may want to take as the guide, and you can do this through mentoring, coaching, or directing. Although these three different types of guidance are often mixed together or interchanged in both conversation and media, there are actually subtle differences amongst them that you need to understand and explore.

In mentoring or mentorship, you are dealing with a relationship between a mentor, who is more experienced, knowledgeable, and wise; and a protégé, who is less experienced, probably (but not always) younger, and sometimes flighty and uncertain. A mentor will often be more prominent than the protégé, or more skilled in a particular field. The mentor is then the teacher of the protégé, and serves as the guide for the protégé to do better in the field. Most often, a mentor will teach by example on the job itself: for instance, a mentor opera singer will have a protégé who the opera singer will take on while the opera singer is at the peak of his or her career, and while the protégé is just starting out. By emulating the opera singer, the protégé will hopefully succeed one day as well.

On the other hand, coaching refers to a guidance process in which a person, acting as a leader, oversees a group of persons, or sometimes even a single person, with the aim of achieving a goal. Coaching differs from mentoring in that a coach will often be out of or done with his or her career already, and will therefore be teaching a younger generation based on his or her experiences. Another difference between coaching and mentoring is that coaching often has only a single goal in mind, while mentoring might be more abstract and widespread in its aims.

Coaching is most popularly seen in sports teams, where a person who has once been a good player is now helping other players to succeed in their game, and with the aim of as many victories as possible for the team. Another popular coaching technique is that of life coaching. In this case, a person is not necessarily dead done with life, and coming back to teach the living. Instead, a person is already successful enough and is probably ready for retirement, but is coaching other people in making their lives start to work. In a variant of life coaching, a person who has already faced all of his or her fears can also coach persons who are still living in fear, helping them to get over their anxieties and emerge as better people.

Lastly, the process of directing involves the instruction of a higher person to that of a lower person. In the mentor and protégé relationship, the mentor acts as a guide, not as someone who makes orders; a guide will steer a student through to the right path, but not point it out directly. In the coach and team relationship, the coach acts as an encouraging person, and even as a trainer, but not as someone who directly tells the team what to do. In directing, a boss-employee relationship would be closer in definition, especially when the higher person is ordering the lower person on how exactly to live his or her life.

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