Leadership Coaching and Mentoring: What's the Best Way to Develop High-Performance Leaders?

Coaching and mentoring are two popular methods of development that are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct similarities and differences that leaders use to help people develop more confidence, think more creatively, take risks, reflect and learn. Coaching is a great way to help people adapt to new roles, responsibilities, or challenges. Research has shown that coaching and mentoring can increase productivity and job satisfaction, which means that you're more likely to be happy in your position and to be more effective. This is because typical coaching approaches focus on “matching” coaches and coaches based on attributes that have little evidence of having a positive impact on positive outcomes for individuals or organizations, such as personality and gender. Coaching is based on inquiry; insightful questions can make a person see themselves and the world differently and solve their own challenges.

With a little training in coaching, leaders who act as coaches and mentors can have an enormous impact on the development of employees and future leaders. While mentoring is a great tool for connecting people in an organization, sharing different ideas and giving confidence to emerging talent to succeed, coaching is a better solution for boosting leadership performance. Coaching and mentoring provide leaders with the opportunity to practice and explore problems and opportunities in a collaborative, personalized and nuanced way. Leadership coaching encourages professionals to establish a specific improvement plan so that they can move forward and change their behavior and improve their skills. Major large companies and public sector organizations are investing in counseling support and mentoring to help develop their leadership teams.

However, many leaders may be missing out on the opportunity to develop training skills (or a coaching approach) to increase their mentoring capabilities. The key difference between coaching and mentoring lies in the approach. Coaching is more active than mentoring; it requires leaders to think not only about improving, but also about creating an action plan. An excellent coach can help a leader understand their own strengths and weaknesses and determine how to complete any knowledge or skill gaps. To help give businesses a boost after the coronavirus pandemic, I spend part of my day offering free executive mini-coaching and mentoring sessions to people who want help to adopt new ways of working. Learn the fundamental differences between coaching and mentoring now so you can decide which one is best for training high-performance leaders.