Sponsor, Coach, or Mentor?

What’s the difference, and why do I need to know? I've found these labels to be very useful in organising my thinking about relationships that play out naturally in life and in the business world.


Sponsor*: A person who talks about you when you are not in the room. Someone who portrays your skills and traits to others and effectively tells others about you and what you do when you’re not in the room.


Coach: A person who has a skill that you are trying to attain and they actively engaged in teaching you this skill. Usually, you are engaged with your coach on a regular basis, and in business, this is generally a trusted colleague or your leader.


Mentor: A trusted person who helps you to shape your mindset for success. A mentor will help you to realise your goals and will challenge you to find and implement the best strategies for you. A mentor’s role is to help you understand your strengths and weaknesses as an individual, design ways for you to grow your strengths, and manage your weaknesses and de-railers. The key in part of this relationship is they are there to support you and hold you accountable. Mentors do not work it out for you like a coach. They are also an invaluable asset to help improve your network. Once trusted, they should open up the doors to their network for you to achieve your goals.


*Obviously, it goes without saying there are such things as negative sponsors. Regardless, they are still sponsors. I like to think that they have still done their job and they’ve sponsored you. Once you hear about a negative sponsor, you can use this feedback to improve your personal branding. Think about how they have come to that point of view, is there an area you can improve? Was this a one-off? Or was this a ‘water-cooler’ conversation that needs to be dealt with so you can move forward with your reputation intact. Maybe it is time for you to practice another skill of having a ‘Hard Conversation’.


PeerThinc brings together incredible mentors who are all successful in their own right. Our mentors are here to help you develop your goals, create your strategy, challenge your thinking, support you, encourage you and critically hold you accountable along the way.


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