If You Want to Be a Good Mentor, Have Wisdom to Share

Solution, life coaching key

While having a mentor will change your career, being one will change your life.

In season 24 episode 7, we cover the important topic of mentorship.  Specifically the difference between mentorship and coaching.


On the surface, most people know mentorship is important. However very few professionals have one. In research done by DDI in 2019, they found 60% of frontline leaders don’t have a mentor.  This means the professionals underneath front line leaders in the organizational chart are even less likely to have a mentor. LearnLoft estimates between 80% and 85% of professionals have no mentor to help with career-related issues.

 According to an Emerging Workforce Study, 35% of employees without regular mentoring start looking for other jobs within 12 months of joining an organization and 68% of millennials in an organization are likely to stay for five years or more with an organization if they have a mentor. It evident the value of mentorship is important in a career but it also important in life.

One of the most famous examples comes from Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. While Buffett has been a great business mentor he has also passed along some phenomenal life lessons Gates carries with him today. He mentioned Warren Buffett touched his life by teaching him that the measure of success is not through his net worth but by ‘having people you care about loving you back.’

When people don’t have mentors they get lost. They might still get to their destination but they could have hurt a lot fewer people in the process and gotten there faster.

The difference between mentorship and coaching

Is there a difference between Mentoring versus Coaching? They are often used interchangeably, but their not the same. 

Mentors tend to be at the highest level possible thinking about and advising the whole person. They might not even have specific expertise in a particular job or field of their mentee but they can still add value based on their business or life experience. Having said that, there are times when they might act as a coach to their mentee in specific situations.

A coach, on the other hand, has deep expertise in a particular job or skill that needs to be developed. In a formal setting, they have either been trained or gone through extensive studying of their particular craft. They often think of themselves as the instructor and they leverage various methods to help their “student” develop the skills.  Typical coaching behaviors include things like modeling, asking questions, or watching with a keen eye.  I have written and spoken in detail about the role managers need to play in acting more as a coach for their people.  

Great mentors have wisdom to share

Regardless of where you are in your own journey, you can be a mentor to others.  If you are going to mentor others you have to wisdom to share. The only way this is possible is you have done the work through books and studying or have the experience to share.

The best way to share your wisdom with your mentee is during “mentorship moments.” Regardless of the frequency of these moments, they provide an opportunity to share wisdom through critical life or business lessons, accountability or encouragement. As Zig Ziglar famously said “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is currently booking events and speaking engagements for 2020. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.