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A mentor, coach and sponsor walked in to a room....

A recent post made me realise not everyone knows the difference or the importance of each of these roles in our life, so I hope to clarify it for you.

People ask, how do I find a sponsor? I have a mentor is that the same as a coach. Here’s my interpretation:

  1. Everyone should have a mentor, this is usually a relationship with a defined time commitment (for example a year.). They may be 2 roles ahead of you, someone you admire and have clicked with. They guide you using their experience and can relate to the challenges you are facing to reach your potential. There are online tools, even on LinkedIn to help you to find a mentor, or you can simply ask someone. You then agree meeting frequency and the mentee drives the discussion and agenda with areas that they need supporting in. They will take time to understand your strengths and goals. This isn’t usually a paid relationship.

  2. A sponsor is someone who has seen evidence of what you are capable of. They believe in you and they want to open doors to help you to reach your potential. They’ll be you’re champion when you aren’t in the room and may connect you to their network. They’re also usually at least 2 roles more senior however it could also be someone who has influence (might not be your typical ‘important‘ on the important/ influence stakeholder matrix) You can’t ask someone to be your sponsor. They might choose too and often mentors go on to become a sponsor.

  3. A coach is usually a paid relationship. You might seek a coach to support you through a specific challenge. They are a qualified professional and you will select your coach to meet your individual need. It’s important you click so when finding a coach they often have a free taster session to see if you get a long.

The saying goes ‘a coach talks to you, a mentor talks with you and a sponsor talks about you’. I would recommend all 3 if you could!

Mentoring and coaching relationships are often 1:1 but there can also be mentoring circles, where a group get together to be mentored on a challenge and group coaching. There is value in talking through with many.

I hope this helps. Mentors and coaches can be found in my group, open to all, men, women, parents and not.

thanks for reading.

Amanda Newman

The Career Mum


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