Mentor Moments – Mentors have great answers!

Coaches ask great Questions, Mentors have great answers.

The difference between coaching and mentoring, is summed up in the statement: “Coaches ask great questions, mentors have great answers”.

Coaches understand that the person they are coaching already knows the answers they are seeking even though they don’t know they know the answer. To tease that information out, coaches ask open ended questions to stimulate new thinking. Our brains are wonderful processing machines –it will work on unanswered questions until it finds an answer. Each question asked from a different perspective will open new possibilities and allow for innovative, creative thinking.

The aim of coaching is therefore to help the person being coached to think differently, to stretch their thinking and to get them to dig deep and explore alternatives. Coaching usually takes longer as the person being coached may need time to peel back the layers buried deep in the subconscious mind.

Mentors on the other hand have the most impact when the mentee has NO exposure to what is being mentored. In these cases, the mentee taps into the mentor’s knowledge and experience to fast track development and get to solutions quicker. It is my firm belief that in the real world we switch naturally between coaching and mentoring depending on the knowledge and experience of the person we are engaging with.

Great leaders are mentors and coaches first and leaders second, because mentors and coaches take the time to invest in the growth of others. As a mentee, mentoring is, a brain to pick, an ear to listen. If you have not already done so I highly recommend that you think about who you can approach to mentor and coach you through both your Toastmaster’s and your life and career challenges. The best investment you can ever make is to tap into the guidance and wisdom of people who have experience and knowledge and will push you out of your comfort zone so that you can fly in your chosen role in Toastmasters and other areas of your life.

During my 18 years as a Toastmaster one of my greatest strengths has been the ability to tap into the diverse and willing network of coaches and mentors available through Toastmasters. These Toastmasters are CEO’s of companies, experienced sales people, branding experts, social media specialists, Industry experts and above all are incredible human beings.

Some of my personal mentors and coaches who made the most impact include but are not limited to: Richard and Zosia Greaves, Errol van der Merwe, Dave Cairns, Frank Tsuro, Cheryl Brown, Brian Hovelmeier, Adri van Zyl, Lois Strachan, Beth Thomas, Aletta Rochat, Tim Knights, Adolph Kaestner, David Preece, Justin Prozesky, Erich Viedge,– however there were also many many others, too numerous to mention ,who helped on a particular Toastmaster assignment or life challenge I was facing.

Then there were still others like Douglas Kruger, Njabula Thela, Craig Valentine, Ed Tate, John Maxwell to name but a few who also mentor me, but don’t know they are mentoring me and in many cases, do not even known who I am. Their mentoring takes the form of advice posted on social media, their bloggs, and podcasts.

How to approach a Coach/Mentor:
1. Decide what coaching/mentoring you need, is it a specific task/assignment or is it leadership/behavioural/relational focused?
2. Be clear about the outcomes you want to achieve from the mentoring or coaching intervention.
3. Continuously scan the environment, speak to people and find out who is the best of the best in the field you want to learn.
4. Do you know this person? If yes, invite them to coffee and ask them to coach mentor you. If not, do you know someone that could introduce you to the person? If yes, then ask them to introduce you personally or online.
5. Make sure that every time you meet with your coach/mentor you come prepared with questions and that you are respectful of their time. i.e. be on time, don’t take more time than you asked for.

Karen Levy Strauss DTM