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Why Business Leaders Should Know the Difference Between Mentoring and Coaching [Podcast]

Episode 69: In this episode, Michael and Kathryn discuss the difference between Coaching and Mentoring and why these terms are often confused with one another. If you run a company, supervise employees, or lead a team, take a listen to this episode to discover when you should intentionally 'coach', instead of 'mentor'.

a coach talking with someone about their problem

In This Episode You Will...

  • Discover the definition of Coaching and why it's often confused with the concept of Mentoring.
  • Find out how really good coaching helps accelerate results with your team.
  • Learn how Michael and Kathryn's company changed just after 1 year of business coaching.
  • Hear examples of having to quickly switch between coaching and mentoring when working with clients and staff.

"When you discover something for yourself, you tend to own it. – Kathryn Redman

References:

  1. Coaching For Performance (by John Whitmore)
  2. Stuck (By Terry Walling)

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Michael:
              Hello everyone and welcome to the HaBO Village podcast. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              We are really glad you're here today. This is a podcast based on helping leaders like you build passion and provision companies that are filled with more profit, more joy, bringing more fulfillment, and your companies more successful. I think I want that. I like that. I've been in business 17 years now with you, Kathryn. I remember the days that we didn't have that, and they sucked.


Kathryn:
               They really, really did.


Michael:
              I like it when the company is flourishing financially. I like it when it's working well relationally. I like it when I like the work that I'm doing.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely. Who doesn't like it when you like the work that you're doing? Our goal here really is to equip and support you in becoming the best leader you can be as you lead your company and as you lead yourself so that you can actually lean into what it is you're supposed to do like the contribution that you have and that your company has to the world around you. I'm super excited.


Michael:
              We addressed it all from a holistic perspective, not just leadership development, but we're right in the middle of a leadership series, which is really cool because we love leadership development. Last week, we talked about leadership and some different aspects that started this series. Today, we're going to talk about coaching and mentoring, defining those terms and then talking about how they apply within the business context and environment. What's our brief definition on coaching and mentoring?


Kathryn:
               Obviously, like with lots of terms, everybody has their own definitions around stuff. We want to tell you what it is that we are talking about and why we define it that way. We're going to say that coaching is about drawing things out of people, pulling things out of people.


Michael:
              Things that are already there.


Kathryn:
               Discovering what it is that they know, so that's the coaching, pulling stuff out. Mentoring is when you put stuff in, when you actually give advice, when you shift perspective by bringing your expertise to play.


Michael:
              In mentoring, we're talking about teaching. We're talking about direction. We're talking about instruction, or maybe even just in the business context, we're talking about folks being able to say, "Okay, I'm now in mentoring mode. I'm going to tell you what you need to do. I'm going to tell you how this works. I'm going to tell you the decisions you need to make." There is that kind of context. This can all sit around action items that people have, jog assignments and things like that. Then in coaching, we are going after people's ability. They already know things, and for some reason we all get stuck with what we know. Sometimes, we just don't have a clear picture, and we need somebody else on the outside to help us with that.


Kathryn:
               The principle that really, really matters here is coaching becomes important because when people discover stuff themselves, they tend to own it and implement it. If people discover, they own it.


Michael:
              When people own it, for somebody to own and implement, it's helpful if they discover it themselves as opposed to being taught.


Kathryn:
               Yes.


Michael:
              Because this idea of when you tell somebody something you've told them, and sometimes they want to know that, but it comes from an outside information. If you help them coach them through the discovery process, that's part of what coaching does. What you're doing at some level folks is you're helping people think. You're teaching them to think. You're teaching them to be more confident in their thought process, and it's incredibly powerful. Why would you even waste your time? Coaching takes longer than mentoring, right, Kathryn?


Kathryn:
               It takes a lot longer, but I love... There's this quote by John Whitmore, the guy who wrote a book called Coaching for Performance, and he says this, "If I give you my advice and it fails, you will blame me. I have traded my advice for your responsibility, and that is seldom a good idea, right?"


Michael:
              That's a big deal. Elaborate on that.


Kathryn:
               One of the things that happens a lot, especially when people look at you as further ahead in life than they are or you're their boss, they want you to solve their problems. They want to come to you and say, "What do you want me to do? What should I do?" What ends up happening sometimes is that if you tell them what to do and it doesn't work, then it's your fault, and they don't have to take responsibility.


Michael:
              Now, that sounds like a pretty cognitive conscious approach to avoiding everything. That sounds very maniacal the way that's described. I know we talk about it in training and everything else. I mean, do you see it? Do you see that that sounds like a maniacal perspective?


Kathryn:
               I'm going to make sure I never get blamed for anything as a leader. Is that what you're saying you heard in that?


Michael:
              Yeah. I mean, I think that. I think it's not always true. When I heard that for the first time, I went, "Because I've been around leadership long enough, I get what they're trying to say," but what's coming across or could come across to some people is that basically a very cynical approach. People are screwed. They don't want to take any kind of responsibility for anything. Therefore, they want you to answer the question so that they don't have to take responsibility for it. I don't buy it. I think it's true sometimes, but I think there's way more too. I think the question is begged to be asked, "Why do people not want to take responsibility?"


Kathryn:
               Well, and I wonder, I mean, as we process this through, the reality is that sometimes they want you to answer because they're not confident. They're just struggling. They're afraid. They don't feel safe. There's a hundred reasons.


Michael:
              Well, I think that's a big one, right? Again, that situation there, they're not intentionally thinking, "I don't want to take responsibility for it." I mean, I think there's multiple reasons. One is they're not confident. I don't know. Two, they want to please you as a leader. I've seen that. We've both seen that lot. They want to please you as a leader and they want to do what you want them to do, and they're very eager to do that. They don't even expect it to go wrong. There's no expectation. It's you'll do it. You'll tell me what to do.


Kathryn:
               You're the smart one.


Michael:
              You're the smart one, blah, blah. There is a point at which instead of being like, "I'm going to ask you and intentionally ask you to tell me what to do so I don't have to take responsibility." I think that sometimes is true but I think it also can be hidden deep in the... Somebody who is thinking to themselves, "I don't want a job where I have to make all the decisions, and I don't mind doing what else somebody is telling me to do. And if they tell me to do the wrong thing, they can't get mad at me for it. Really, I don't like being in trouble. So I would rather not be in trouble, and I would rather sit in the place where I'm not trying to avoid responsibility. I'd rather not opt into responsibility. And I'm more than happy to just take orders, tell me what to do while giving me a little bit of autonomy."


Michael:
              I think there's a combination of a lot of different things in there, and a lot of it is not conscious, "I'm trying to avoid responsibility." I think there's a lot of stuff that happens in there. That's one of the challenges I had with that quote is I like it. I'm not talking about hearing it for the first time today. I heard it quite a while ago, and we heard it again in some training that we went through. I mean, does that make sense?


Kathryn:
               Absolutely. I mean, don't you think that even if people are nervous or don't really want to take risks or whatever that part, part of our job as leaders is to coach them into that, coach them into actually saying, "I have ownership and a stake and a-"


Michael:
              Absolutely.


Kathryn:
               ... because I want people who are going to come to me not just with their problems but with their solutions to those problems. Those are the ideal place.


Michael:
              The average employee, the average job in America, I think, doesn't teach people to actually be forward thinking. It is so common that most leaders seem to say to us, and I read about it in books and elsewhere too, that they have to continue to train their employees, teach their employees to come to them with solutions, not just problems. That's a huge mindset shift, and it doesn't come by telling them to do that necessarily. You have to instruct, but there's a lot of coaching on teaching them to acquire new habits. How do they think?


Michael:
              You don't just... Some people just aren't good at solving problems, and so they have to be taught. The best way to teach somebody to solve a new problem, I believe, is coaching, coaching them through it. You start asking questions. "What do you think?" "Well, I don't know." "Well, if you did know, what would you think? I need you to be brave. I need you to be courageous in this conversation and to step forward," because coaching can accelerate the profitability of a company. It can accelerate the ability for you to multiply yourself as a leader so that you don't have to always be there answering the questions, solving the problems and everything else.


Michael:
              Now, some of you may not like the idea of spreading that out. You may not trust your people. That's a whole nother issue, or you may have...


Kathryn:
               That is not this podcast.


Michael:
              That is not this podcast.


Kathryn:
               That's a different seminar.


Michael:
              You also may have problems where you believe that nobody is trustworthy, so you have to be doing it or you have... This is a tough one. You have control issues.


Kathryn:
               Nobody can do it as well as you.


Michael:
              Nobody who can do it as well as you. I've seen that conjure up really mean people, but now after doing consulting and work for a lot of people at a lot of different size companies, I've seen really, really, really nice people who have control issues.


Kathryn:
               That's super sweet.


Michael:
              They don't seem mean. They don't think they have control issues. "I like them. I'm not controlling them. I just," and then blah, blah, blah.


Kathryn:
               I'm controlling them.


Michael:
              Then it's just like... Part of this whole leadership development process folks is an internal growth in our own leadership and looking at who we are, our motivations, our core motivations, our past successes and our past hurts and how they're influencing the way we make decisions. Now, assuming you really want your team to grow and assuming you want to not have to be there at every meeting to make every decision for your leaders. I got a client right now who has a fairly significant company with over 300 employees doing great work. They're going through an organizational transition, and the CEO no longer can be as available because of how they're growing to the next level as he has been in the past.


Michael:
              He's trying to train his VPs who all have teams underneath them and responsibilities and parts of the balance sheet that are they're responsible for. He was been sharing with us lately. It is something I'm trying to do on a regular basis because you have intelligent, middle-aged people. They're not kids. They've been at this a long time. They're experienced, and yet they want to come and get answers. He's like, "I need you to stand on your own two feet. I need you to solve those problems." One of the things that I found very interesting in what he said to us one day when he was talking to us is he added this, "I need you to live and die by your decisions."


Michael:
              That is scary for anybody at some level. A VP is looking at it going, "Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. I have not been used to doing that because you have been the one giving certain a level of instructions, and you have been making certain levels of decisions. And now you're telling me I have to make those decisions and I have to be responsible for them if they fail?" There's this level of even smart people are really responsive, and I'm hoping that some of you listening right now are going, "Yep, I get that. Yep, that's happened to me." There is a point of us telling these stories to where hopefully you can find a way to relate to this at some level.


Michael:
              Coaching is a tool that works with it. Now, a lot of coaching happens as pure model. Coaching is all about asking questions, and that's it. The model we use is unique because it combines coaching and mentoring.


Kathryn:
               Yes.


Michael:
              Do you wanna elaborate on that and the difference, because a lot of people think coaching is just you don't tell anybody?


Kathryn:
               The reality is in coaching... I mean, that's the goal. You're asking good questions. You're helping them discover. You're helping them figure things out or figure out what it is that they already know but were just not able to articulate. That's pure coaching, but let's face it, in business, in life, people come to us who they really are stuck. No matter how many questions you ask them, they just are spinning. They cannot answer them. They don't know what to do. In that place, there is a strategic moment where you have to make a decision to say, "Hey, I'm going to take off my coaching hat, and may I have permission?"


Kathryn:
               You don't necessarily have to ask us a boss, but if you're talking with someone, "I think I would like to give you some things to think about that might help shift your paradigm or might help you think differently. Let me give you some input." You move from coaching to mentoring. You provide the input. The challenge that we have as leaders is switching back. I mean, I don't know about you, but we get hired to help solve people's problems. When we're consulting, which is a whole nother thing, we're not getting paid just to ask them questions and draw stuff out.


Kathryn:
               That is a piece of it because we have to learn who they are, what they know, what lives deep within them so we can solve stuff deep within them, business counseling.


Michael:
              Deep within them.


Kathryn:
               We can solve stuff in a way that actually is meaningful for them. The answers actually translate to who they are and how they function, but as people who are walking with, especially our employees and developing our employees, we are trained to tell, and so learning to stop telling and start asking and move back into coaching once you've given a little bit of input, that is a hard shift.


Michael:
              As leaders and entrepreneurs, we didn't get here by just asking a lot of questions. We're usually pretty good learners. We like to learn. We're very good at learning, so we ask questions to learn, but we don't ask questions to help people learn often. We're really good a lot of times at moving in. It's funny. We're good coaches. We've been doing this a long time. There's still more we can learn. Even two weeks ago when we were at that conference reviewing and brushing up on our skills, there was still great gold nuggets in there. There were some things that...


Michael:
              There were two pieces of information that I felt were really helpful. There were types of information. The first type of information was just the gold nuggets I'd never heard before. Like, "Ah, there were a few of those. That was good." The second one was that I think was even more valuable was the repetitive information, the same information that we've heard before, but it had new illustrations. Even more powerful than that for me was it's in a new context of my life. Our life has... Things have changed and time's gone on, and we have new clients or new experiences. I have this whole new framework of stuff that I can draw on of experience, and I'm thinking about through that.


Michael:
              I found myself thinking it's amazing how many people don't want to let go over renew something that they learned before. I'll read a book three or four times, and people go, "I read that once. I'm not going to read it again. I mean, I got it. I understand the concept." I'm like, "Yeah, but there's, a, understanding the concept at a high level, and then there's integrating it and then there's the whole process of rereading it at this point in my life because the context of my life gives that information new meaning." We got both of those, and really just realizing in some of the exercises like, "Wow, I really do struggle with moving to telling way too fast. It is really easy for me. I'm good at it."


Kathryn:
               Well, I'm not so bad at it either. Part of the problem with it is even you realize your own internal stuff in the middle of it, because a lot of times I move to telling too fast because I want them to know I'm smart. They came to me because I'm the smart one.


Michael:
              Let me tell you what I am. I am [inaudible 00:16:47].


Kathryn:
               I will dispense my wisdom now. One of the great acronyms that we learned in coaching that was brand new for me, I hadn't heard it before. But when you're coaching and you're trying to train yourself to stop telling and start asking questions, and you find that you're talking, there's this acronym WAIT. It stands for why am I talking?


Michael:
              I hadn't heard that one either.


Kathryn:
               Why am I contributing right now? Do I need to be contributing? Is this the right time or am I just talking because I need to fulfill my own personal need to be smart, or because I don't actually believe that they have answers in them and I'm not being patient? I mean, there's just a hundred reasons why those things can happen, so to be able to say, "Why am I talking?"


Michael:
              It's super true and important. Coaching is about questions. Coaching is really important to help people own their stuff. Coaching allows people to retrain their thinking. Coaching allows us, especially if we're getting coached, "Oh boy, super helpful," because it allows... or we're bringing in somebody who can read the label from the outside of the bottle. Now, there's a difference between hiring a business coach, leadership coach, and hiring a business or leadership consultant. You may hire a consultant that's really good at coaching too, and if you'd get that, that's awesome. A consultant is typically somebody coming in to do an assessment and tell you what you need to do and they give you their recommendations.


Michael:
              You want an assessment. You need it. There's times for that. It's perfect. Coaching isn't always the answer, but depending on who you are and how you learn for you to acquire a skill, for you to really grasp it and take it from a surface level of just, "Yeah, I'm familiar with that in my mind, into my memory and into my system." Coaching can be really helpful. When they do the assessment and then walk you through that, there is that kind of a form of a Socratic method to helping you realize what's going on and everything else. We've all experienced consultants that...


Michael:
              Well, maybe we haven't all, but many of us have experienced consultants that come in and just give you an answer, and you're not sure you buy the answer. You paid for it and everything else. That's great, but the report sits in the drawer and you don't do anything with it.


Kathryn:
               I was recently just reading that. Actually, I'm part of an organization. I sit on a board of an organization where we had a consultant came in two days, got the report, and I read it. I was like, "Ah. I'm not sure you get who we are. I'm not sure you asked the right questions. I'm not sure." Nobody can grasp your entire organization in two days, but there is that sense sometimes of, "I think you missed a couple of really critical points that shape everything else." To be able to be asking the right questions, again, it goes back to how do you ask the right kinds of questions to help a person frame the path they need to move forward on?


Michael:
              Well, it occurs to me one of the important factors to this process is asking questions, assessing, "Am I hearing correctly?" Formulating an opinion when it's appropriate, because when you're coaching along, you're asking, but then you're going to say ... One of the tools that we use is to actually make the motion and tell people, "Okay, I'm switching from a coaching to a mentoring. I'm going to take my coaching hat off, but put my mentoring hat on. Now, I'm going to talk to you. Now, I'm going to take my mentoring hat off, and we're going to go back to coaching. What do you think about that? How do you want to handle that piece of information? What do you think is the best way we can do with that?"


Michael:
              It takes a little bit of coaching to help people understand how to handle coaching, because some people get really frustrated. It seems very inefficient, but I will tell you that if you map out the time and the data down the road, actually, good coaching accelerates the results you get. They accelerate your time to get to the results, and they accelerate the amount of results you're getting. Then there's a whole lot of other side benefits because what you're doing is you're teaching your employees to think more on their own, to problem solve more on their own.


Michael:
              You're telling them in a sense that you want them to, and you start to create that dialogue which allows you to go faster. It really gets wrapped up in that old saying, go slow to go fast. A lot of people who are... Even in the course we were in last time in the workshop, there were some extremely bright, educated people who were professional problem solvers and systems developers that consistently were wrestling with the emotion. "This is not efficient. This takes too long. Just tell me," and yet he was realizing, this one guy, over and over again that really you have to go slow to go fast because he's also seen how things don't work.


Michael:
              People don't implement changes that you tell them. It may be faster now, but not later. That's coaching. Mentoring, when we sit there and we go, "The reason we combine mentoring and this model of coaching we're recommending is a combination of coaching and mentoring is because people get stuck." You may or may not have experienced this, but some pure bred coaching says you never, ever, ever tell them anything. The philosophy is the person you're coaching knows all the answers. They're there inside of them, and if you just ask the right questions, you'll get them out.


Michael:
              Quite frankly, experientially for us, that doesn't always work, and so you have this model, this mixed model that allows you to move back and forth and at times when coaching is really powerful, stay with it, but you may have to switch out of it to mentor. Using these techniques in business, using them as a leader is a phenomenal way to train your leadership. It's a phenomenal way to train your people because if you're going to continue to build a Passion and Provision company, you need to figure out how to get the things that aren't supposed to be on your plate off of your plate.


Michael:
              You need to help build up and groom leaders that support your vision of your company, of where you're going, your core values and your core purpose that they can actually think through what's coming across their desk and make decisions to respond without saying, "I can't talk about this. I've got to go talk to somebody else." Sometimes it's appropriate, but when a customer has a problem, if you can set your forward facing people to solve those problems quickly, it's way better.


Kathryn:
               Again, as we talk about this holistically, if you have continued to train your employees and your company and understanding your core values, who you are, who you operate as, no matter what, then part of it is how do they respond to this situation based on who you guys are as a company, based on the values that you've laid down. It could be that they could come up with some solutions that perhaps don't quite fit your values. There's a customer who has an issue. How about if we just tell him he's obnoxious, and tell him it's his issue? How does that fit your values? Really helping people understand how to solve a problem within the values that you've structured as a company is really powerful.


Michael:
              Today's podcast is really to introduce the concept of coaching and mentoring, and the way we talk about it. It's not meant today to be, "This is how you coach. This is how you mentor." Part of what you're doing is you want to come at all of it with a posture to say, "I want to help you grow. I want to help you deal with the challenges that you're facing. I want to help you grow and solve those problems, and how do I best serve you and best serve the organization when we're talking about business and as a leader?"


Michael:
              I'll tell you what, one of the things that we did several years ago was an amazing experiment. We chose to not keep going forward with it at the time because we felt like we'd learned a lot, but we brought in a coach for our small company for one year. A couple of times a month, everybody, there was like eight or nine of us on staff at that time. I guess the size of the staff hasn't changed a lot since then. Actually, that included a couple of interns that we had. I wanted to see what coaching would do for our staff. I wanted to see what coaching would do for our company, because we were also in a transition state at that point dealing with several things.


Michael:
              I was trying to grow personally as a leader. Kathryn and I both, we're trying to grow as leaders. We had a level of staff that we'd never had before as far as leadership. We had our first office manager/general manager for the company. We're trying to figure out what that looked like. We'd never had one of those before. We brought in this coach and went, "All right, this looks good. What's this gonna work?" For a year, he coached everybody including interns." Well, first of all, everybody, one. Second, we got great perspective and it was an amazing process for Kathryn and I to evaluate leadership, to evaluate the situation to how to handle the different personality conflicts and issues and challenges that we were facing as we were growing, because the company was growing towards a transition and was rattling quite a bit like a plane just before it breaks sound barrier rattles way more than just after.


Michael:
              That coaching, we did that for a year. We still have the impact. I may have mentioned something in the last podcast about this, but we still have the impact and are still seeing residuals of when that happened. That happened eight years ago because we did it when Paige was first hired, and Paige just crossed eight years, one of our staff. She has said multiple times how helpful it was and how she points towards her longevity with our company and being such a great asset as far as we're concerned, her path being set and her trajectory being set by some things that happened in that coaching that allowed us all as a company to process through some information.


Michael:
              The way that was all handled, it said a lot to Kathryn and I as leaders. It said a lot to her and et cetera on a path to becoming an incredibly valuable member of the company. It has happened with multiple people. Some of them, the best thing for them to do was their path took them elsewhere, not because we wanted them to leave, but because their journey was at Half a Bubble Out for a period of time, and we poured into them. Then their journey took a turn somewhere else. We would've loved it if they'd stayed and everything else, but many of them have moved on to amazing, great things.


Michael:
              We still talk to them. We still have relationship. They can still point to... Some of them have talked about it. They still point back to some of those events.


Kathryn:
               Well, and another, I'll just throw this out there. Another reason there's incredible value in coaching is sometimes, you have to coach someone out.


Michael:
              Yes.


Kathryn:
               Sometimes, you're asking the questions that lead them to the conclusion that perhaps this is not the best place for their gifts, skills and talents to be utilized. It's way better to be able to coach somebody out than to have to fire them.


Michael:
              It's so much better.


Kathryn:
               So much better.


Michael:
              Again, they own the idea. They own the thoughts, and they see and they discover for themselves. Not only does it relieve the tension that you have of, "This is not a good fit. This position in this company is not a good fit for them." It also sets them up for greater success because they can see what they're doing, and you give them a gift to start evaluating and owning some of their stuff. Sometimes, it takes them a few years to figure out, but we had one employee who we had to coach out. He realized it wasn't the best place for him anymore. Two, three years later, he showed up and said, "I want to talk, and I want to share what I've learned. Here's where I went wrong two or three years ago. I'm sorry. Here's what I've learned."


Michael:
              That was incredibly rewarding. That was a huge blessing. We have these things. This is coaching. This is mentoring. We want to introduce this subject to you. We really want to encourage you to think about what does it look like for you to grow your coaching skills, for you to grow and understand more about what it looks like. There's a book by Terry Walling called Stuck. It's really good on understanding transitions and how coaching can be valuable for helping us move through transitions. The book's more about transitions and what's stopping you as a leader for moving to that next level. While we've been talking this whole podcast about encouraging you to coach others and create a community of coaching in your company to help accelerate growth, so you can become a more effective Passion and Provision company, we believe coaching is phenomenally important for Passion and Provision companies, but for you as a Passion and Provision leader.


Michael:
              Kathryn and I are regularly involved in coaching at formal and informal levels of getting coached because good coaches get coached also. We think it's incredibly important, incredibly valuable. Just two weeks ago, had some good coaching and had a great breakthrough on some observations that are going to take us through the transition and instruct us and guide us over the next two or three years of our organizational transitions. Our company goes through a new transition. These things are important. We just want to encourage you to do that. There is a book called Stuck. It's going to be on our website on the page for this podcast episode.


Michael:
              Then we're going to close out today. Then we're going to have one more episode next week where we're going to dive a little bit farther into leadership development and what's important for you as a leader. We're going to talk about burnout. I think burnout is super important. What leads you to burnout? How do you get there? Did you know that there were four stages of burnout? We're going to talk about that in the next episode. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              Thank you so much for joining us on HaBO Village today. We hope that you can continue to experience Passion and Provision in your company and grow as a Passion and Provision leader. We'll see you next week.


Kathryn:
               Bye.